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The Gettysburg Address
The Gettysburg Address
The Gettysburg Address

See, touch, and do the same things President Abraham Lincoln did
as he came to Gettysburg four months after the battle for the dedication of Soldiers National Cemetery
and delivered a 2-minute speech we still talk about 150 years later.

 

Arrival

Amidst a raging civil war, President Abraham Lincoln came to Gettysburg on November 18, 1863, and stayed for 25 hours. In that time he shook hands with thousands, saw part of the battlefield and delivered one of the greatest of all American speeches.

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Hear a civilian’s account of the town that historic day

 

Behind the Scenes

With 51,000 men killed, wounded and missing, the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863, was the bloodiest battle ever fought in the western hemisphere.

Thousands of dead soldiers were left exposed in the battle's wake. These men were generally buried in shallow graves where they had fallen—mostly on the farmland of local citizens. Something needed to be done.

In Lincoln's Words

Click to read a quote from the Gettysburg Address

 

Preparations

President Lincoln and guests dined inside the Wills House while masses of people gathered outside to catch a glimpse of the President. When pressured by the crowd, Lincoln emerged on York Street, gave a brief speech and went back inside. That evening he entertained those in the Wills House, and then retired to a second story bedroom where he continued to edit his Gettysburg Address.

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Hear Abraham Lincoln’s “First Gettysburg Address” made to appease the crowd clamoring for a speech

 

Behind the Scenes

Gettysburg was still recovering from the horrors of the battle when President Lincoln, scores of dignitaries and 15,000 others came to Gettysburg to consecrate a cemetery for the Union soldiers who had died there.

In Lincoln's Words

Click to read a quote from the Gettysburg Address

 

Procession

On the morning of November 19, 1863, President Lincoln donned a black suit, white gloves and his signature top hat. He exited the Wills House at about 10 o’clock in the morning to meet the processional which began at the Wills House with great fanfare and ended at Evergreen Cemetery.

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Listen to a citizen of Gettysburg describe the procession as it moved towards Evergreen Cemetery

 

Behind the Scenes

The Gettysburg Address could not be delivered in the new cemetery—there were fresh reburials everywhere—so a platform was constructed in the adjacent local cemetery.

In Lincoln's Words

Click to read a quote from the Gettysburg Address

 

Gettysburg Address

President Lincoln, dignitaries, and thousands of onlookers listened intently while the keynote speaker, Edward Everett addressed the crowd for two hours. Adhering to David Wills’ request for “a few appropriate remarks,” Lincoln arose from his seat on the platform and spoke for only two minutes.

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Listen to a firsthand recount of the impact President Lincoln’s Address had on the Crowd

 

Behind the Scenes

The main speaker that day was Edward Everett, who spoke for two hours. Lincoln spoke for two minutes and said essentially the same thing in his plain, simple way.

In Lincoln's Words

Click to read a quote from the Gettysburg Address

 

After the Address

The conclusion of the Gettysburg Address shocked many as they believed President Lincoln’s speech would be longer. The masses of people exited from Evergreen Cemetery and Lincoln continued to attend his engagements throughout the afternoon. After returning to the Wills House for a reception and attending a patriotic meeting at the Presbyterian Church, Lincoln concluded his 25 hours in Gettysburg and departed for Washington.

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Listen to George D. Gitt recount the end of President Lincoln’s Address

 

Behind the Scenes

Lincoln spent just 25 hours in Gettysburg, but 150 years later his words and the course he helped chart for this nation are ever present.

In Lincoln's Words

Click to read a quote from the Gettysburg Address

Credits

This presentation is based on the research of Timothy H. Smith, author of John Burns: The hero of Gettysburg and Devil's Den: A History and Guide.

Thanks to the Adams County Historical Society for use of several historic photos herein.

Thanks to the Gettysburg Museum of History for allowing visitors to see what Lincoln held.

Civil War Trust would also like to thank the following institutions:

Civil War Trust
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The Civil War Trust is America's largest non-profit organization (501-C3) devoted to the preservation of our nation's endangered Civil War battlefields. The Trust also promotes educational programs and heritage tourism initiatives to inform the public of the war's history and the fundamental conflicts that sparked it. Learn more at civilwar.org »

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