On This Day in History: President Abraham Lincoln Delivers the Gettysburg Address

On This Day in History: President Abraham Lincoln Delivers the Gettysburg Address

On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address.

On November 19th, 1863 President Lincoln was invited to speak at the official dedication ceremony for the Soldier’s National Cemetery of Gettysburg. The ceremony was held at the site of one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War, and while Lincoln’s words were few, he managed to provide solace and hope to a nation scarred by the most divisive war in U.S. history. Now considered one of the most important speeches in American history, let’s honor the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address while we share some interesting facts about it that might not be top of mind about his pivotal speech.

  • Lincoln Wasn’t Even the Keynote Speaker

While President Lincoln was invited to speak at the ceremony, the keynote speaker for the event was famed orator Edward Everett. Everett’s speech lasted two hours during which he recounted the Union’s exploits at Gettysburg and made many historical references. After the event was over, Everett wrote to Lincoln congratulating him for accomplishing in two minutes what took him two hours.

  • Lincoln Gave an Impromptu Speech Before the Address

The night before the official ceremony Lincoln spoke to a couple of hundred people who gathered in the town square. He made some jokes and essentially told the crowd to wait for his official speech the following day. After that, he went back inside to put the finishing touches on the Address.

  • Bodies Were Still Being Buried During the Ceremony

As the ceremony was starting, guests passed a burial party who were burying several corpses nearby. This sight helped set the somber mood for the commemoration.

  • The Cemetery was Only for Union Soldiers

The National Cemetery of Gettysburg was meant to honor the Union soldiers who had died in battle. Confederate soldiers who were killed in the North were returned to the South to be buried or were lost in history altogether.

  • Lincoln Worked Hard on the Address

While there is a myth that Lincoln wrote the Address quickly on the train to Gettysburg, historians have debunked this story. There are at least two prior drafts of the speech, indicating that the President carefully crafted his words.

  • How He Did It

In about 260 words, beginning with the famous phrase, “Four score and seven years ago,” Lincoln honored the Union dead and reminded the listeners of the purpose of the soldier’s sacrifice: equality, freedom, and national unity.

Join us at The Maria Sanchez Show as we learn more about the Gettysburg Address on the anniversary of its delivery. Don’t forget to check out our latest program, Shadow Politics with Senator Michael D. Brown. Tune in on Sundays at 4:00 p.m. PST/7:00 p.m. EST.


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