Gettysburg Address: 150th Anniversary

aclj featureEDWARD WHITE, ACLJ

Today, November 19, 2013, marks the 150th Anniversary of when President Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Lincoln gave the speech while the Civil War was still being fought and while the bodies of soldiers who died during the recently fought Battle of Gettysburg were still being buried.

The speech is considered by many to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, speech ever given by an American president.

There are five known copies of the speech in President Lincoln’s handwriting. The most commonly known version is the one Lincoln wrote for Colonel Alexander Bliss. It is the only version that Lincoln signed and dated. It is the same version etched into the walls of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The Bliss version is reprinted below and is something worth reading on this day to remember the importance of working to ensure that this country remains moored to the principles stated in the Declaration of Independence (the “why” of America) and in our Constitution (the “how” of America).

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.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863


Recommended read: Jay Sekulow’s, Witnessing Their Faith: Religious Influence on Supreme Court Justices and Their Opinions


Edward WhiteEdward White is Senior Counsel with the ACLJ and has been practicing law for more than twenty years. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School, where he was a Thomas J. White Center for Law & Government Scholar and managing and student articles editor of the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy.


Used with the permission of the American Center for Law and Justice.