The Gettysburg Address

On November 19, 1863, several months after the battle of Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln rose to make a "few appropriate remarks" at the dedication of a new cemetery for the Union war dead. Coming after the noted orator Edward Everett, who spoke for over two hours, some expected the president to speak for some time. Yet, he returned to his seat after less than two minutes.

In that time Lincoln touched on the central concepts of the War, freedom and equality for all under the law, the preservation of the Union, and what remains today probably the most stirring call to arms ever spoken by an American president. Despite its brevity, as opposed to Everett's long forgotten oration, it has become one of the most memorable of all time.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon 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 here on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it 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 can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they have, thus far, so nobly carried on. 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 here gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

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