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Gettysburg Address
Digital History ID 4014

Author:   Abraham Lincoln
Date:1863

Annotation: The Gettysburg Address was delivered on November 19, 1863, several months after the Union defeated the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg. Lincoln described the Civil War as a struggle for "a new birth of freedom"--his vision for a nation that provides equality for all of its citizens, creates a unified nation no longer dominated by states' rights, and defines democracy in terms of “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

It is Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speech and one of the most quoted speeches in history. It is believed that five different manuscripts were drafted of the Gettysburg Address. The Library of Congress has two of those copies, one by John Nicolay and one by John Hay, both private secretaries to President Lincoln.


Document: Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

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