The Gettysburg Address was delivered by Edward Everett, a politician, pastor, educator, diplomat, and a great orator of the Civil War Era. His address was 13,607 words delivered in 2 hours on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863 at the Consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, just four and a half months after the Union armies defeated the Confederacy on that battlefield.
At the conclusion of the well received address the program called for “Dedicatory Remarks, by the President of the United States.” President Abraham Lincoln’s invitation to speak stated, “It is the desire that, after the Oration, you, as Chief Executive of the nation, formally set apart these grounds to their sacred use by a few appropriate remarks.” The ten sentences that he delivered are remembered as the address, and are worth reflecting on today:
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 battlefield 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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