Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Gettysburg Address: 150 Years Later

"But the long story is that no single American utterance has had the staying power, or commanded the respect and reverence, accorded the Gettysburg Address. It has been engraved...translated...and analyzed in at least nine book-length critical studies over the last century." -- Allen C. Guelzo, "Lincoln's Sound Bite: Have Faith in Democracy"

We've been so busy we almost missed this important anniversary: the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address! At only 272 words, it's a rather short speech for a President, yet the Gettysburg Address remains one of the most well-known speeches in American Presidential history.

"Four score and seven years ago..." is an introduction we all know, yet how many Americans know the details that surround this speech? For example, that Lincoln's speech was not the only one given that day, as Edward Everett gave a much longer oration as well? It's a testament to Lincoln's powers as an orator and writer that school children do not learn word one of the two-hour speech Everett delivered.

In honor of this anniversary we provide some links to interesting and fun articles about the address:
  • "Lincoln's Sound Bite: Have Faith in Democracy," by Allen C. Guelzo. Here the author examines the reasons behind the Address' staying power in American history, detailing why it was--and is--considered a "landmark" speech.
  • This famous speech went through multiple drafts: you can compare the text of five known copies (including the most-often replicated 'Bliss Copy') here.
  • To commemorate the anniversary, special events were held on the fields of Gettysburg, including a reading of the Address by a Lincoln impersonator. Check out the video below for a vignette about what it's like being a Lincoln impersonator!

To learn more about the Gettysburg Address and other significant Lincoln works, check out Abraham Lincoln: The Gettysburg Speech and Other Papers, our Series of the Month Abraham Lincoln: A History (in hardcover or paperback), or The Lincoln Year Book: Axioms and Aphorisms From the Great Emancipator, by Wallace Rice (paperback).

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