Friday, November 19, 2010
Two Hundred Seventy-One Words
Four month after the Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln gave what is probably one of the best known speeches in history, to dedicated the Soldier‘s National Cemetery. Lincoln’s few remarks were given in just over two minutes on November 19th 1863. He arrived in Gettysburg Pennsylvania by train the day before. Lincoln spent the night in the David Will’s house, where he put the final touches on his speech. At 9:30 on the morning of November 19th Lincoln along with Secretary of State William H Seward and Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P Chase joined the procession traveling down Baltimore Street to the dedication.
It is estimated that 15,000 people attended the ceremony, including six sitting governors, and a Canadian politician William McDougall. The re-interment of Union bodies was only about half completed at the time of the ceremony. Following the featured speaker for the day, Edward Everett, Lincoln spoke for just a few short minutes, summing up the war in 271 words “The Gettysburg Address.”
“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. “