Published in 1864, one year after the consecration of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, this book includes the full program of events at the consecration ceremony along with a plan for the cemetery. Compiled by orator and politician Edward Everett—who also spoke at the ceremony—the book includes what is believed to be the first appearance of President Abraham Lincoln’s landmark speech, here called a “dedicatory address,” now simply known as the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln delivered the 272-word speech on November 19, 1863.
Fought four months earlier, the battle of Gettysburg was the most violent of the Civil War. Over a period of three days, almost 8,000 were killed, nearly 27,000 were injured, and an estimated 11,000 were missing or captured. The battle is now seen as the war’s turning point for the Army of the Potomac, as it marks the end of the Confederate’s advance into the North.
The brevity of Lincoln’s remarks can be clearly seen when compared to featured speaker Everett’s address, also included in the book. Everett’s talk spans more than 50 pages, while Lincoln’s two paragraphs are contained on a single page.
From the opening phrase, “Four score and seven years ago,” Lincoln puts forth that the Declaration of Independence, as opposed to the Constitution, holds the founding fathers’ true intentions for the nation. In that moment, Lincoln reshaped the Civil War as a battle not only for the reunification of the country but also a fight for the principle of human equality.
Within the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln famously states that “the world will little note nor long remember” what was said that day. One hundred fifty years later we know that it was Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, not Lincoln, who was correct when he said during his eulogy, “The world noted at once what he said and will never cease to remember it.”
For more on the language of Lincoln, join us for an evening commemorating the sesquicentennial of the Gettysburg Address. Prize-winning scholars Michael Burlingame and Douglas L. Wilson will discuss Lincoln’s language and rhetoric. This event is presented as part of the “Conversations at the Newberry” series, made possible by the generous support of Sue and Melvin Gray, and is held in conjunction with the Newberry’s current exhibition, “Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North.”