Gettysburg Address

(1863)

On November 19, 1863, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, a short speech (lasting no more than two minutes) at the commemoration of the cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where more than fifty-one thousand Union and Confederate soldiers had died in a battle lasting three days, from July 1 to 3, 1863. This historic battle ended General Robert E. Lee's invasion of the North. Lincoln chose to focus not on the Union victory but instead on the principles for which he believed the war had been fought: liberty and equality as they had been defined in the Declaration of Independence. In a speech that is now considered the most eloquent ever delivered by an American president, he saw this battle and the war itself as leading toward a “new birth of freedom.”

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Gettysburg Address (National Archives and Records Administration)

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