• The Gettysburg Address

    In November of 1863, President Lincoln came to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to dedicate the Gettysburg War Cemetery, the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. As he came to Gettysburg on the train, he wrote a simple speech. This speech was only about four minutes long. Many people in the audience didn’t even know he had given it until they read about it in the newspaper the next day.


    But Abraham Lincoln’s speech is remembered as one of the most eloquent speeches ever delivered by an American President. Abraham Lincoln was a deeply religious, patriotic man. He believed that the Civil War was a punishment from God to both the North and South for their sins. He also believed that democracy was a fragile, precious thing, easily destroyed but worth protecting.

    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.


    1. Four score and seven years ago: A score is 20 years; Four score and seven years ago means 87 years ago, which refers to the Revolutionary War and America’s independence.
    2. Consecrate: to set aside as holy
    3. Hallow: holy, of God

    Questions and Answers

    Question: Do all American presidents write their own speeches?

    Answer: U.S. Presidents generally have speech writers to write their speeches although they may give ideas and directions about what should be in a speech.

    Learn More

    Did you know that Abraham Lincoln is often credited for our modern Thanksgiving celebration? Visit the American Presidency Project to learn more.



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