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Abraham Lincoln: Gettysburg Address - Abraham Lincoln: Gettysburg Address

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On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered an address at the dedication of the national cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, that has become one of the most famous speeches of U.S. history. Lincoln's speech came less than six months after the conclusion of the Gettysburg campaign (June 27–July 4, 1863), one of the bloodiest battles of the U.S. Civil War. Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his forces were defeated by Union forces led by General George Meade. The losses for both sides were immense with more than 7,000 killed and 44,000 wounded or missing.

The principal orator at the dedication was Edward Everett, a senator, preacher, and scholar who spoke for more than two hours in the florid style of the time. Lincoln, who presided at the dedication, followed with a few brief remarks in a speech he had written in Washington and then revised slightly before the ceremony. Lincoln honored those who had died at Gettysburg and proclaimed that the cause for which they had died had given the nation a "new birth of freedom."

Lucid, terse, and precise, Lincoln's speech stood in stark contrast to Everett's. Though the crowd that day applauded Lincoln's address without enthusiasm, generations of schoolchildren have memorized and recited it, while Everett's speech was quickly forgotten.

Abraham Lincoln: Second Inaugural Address - Abraham Lincoln: Second Inaugural Address [next] [back] "A House Divided" Speech - "a House Divided" Speech

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