Thursday, November 19, 2009

"A New Nation ..."

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One of the most famous and enduring speeches ever made was given of this day, November 19.

Because of his pressing demands, the speaker was invited as a courtesy. When he accepted, they were both surprised and pleased.

His speech was a little over 2 minutes, but has been an enduring profile of the man's beliefs in American democracy and ideology.

Do you know the man and the speech?

On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the Soldiers' National Cemetery dedication ceremonies in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. After the Battle of Gettysburg, which took place from July 1-4, 1863, the citizens of the Pennsylvania town were over-burdened with the task of caring for the injured and burying the dead. With nearly 6,000 dead bodies left behind by the Union and Confederate armies, and hundreds more dying each day, the state of Pennsylvania purchased land on Cemetery Hill as a burial ground for the fallen soldiers. State officials invited President Lincoln to the dedication ceremonies as a courtesy, and were surprised when he accepted the invitation to come and speak. The day of the ceremony, Lincoln's address lasted a little over two minutes, but soon became a famous representation of Lincoln's beliefs in American democracy and ideology.

Today, only five copies of the speech exist, each with the immortal words written by President Lincoln himself, "...that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Primary Sources and more