Compass

Nov. 19, 1863: Lincoln gives Gettysburg Address, dedicates cemetery

Compass

(Photo: Sallicio via Wikimedia Commons)

Four score and many years ago today, President Lincoln made one of the most famous speeches in American history at the dedication of a military cemetery in Gettysburg, Pa., in 1863.

The battle of Gettysburg, fought four months earlier, was one of the bloodiest of the Civil War. Lincoln’s short speech sought to memorialize the fallen but also to set a standard for defining the ideal of democracy. Lincoln famously wrote the remarks — just two minutes long — on his way to the event. While reception to the speech was mixed at the time, the notion that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” has become a hallmark of American history.

Gettysburg National Military Park now attracts more than two million visitors a year to the cemetery and the historic battlefield.

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, the park will be hosting a number of events today and this weekend, including a Civil War Ball on Friday and Saturday nights. It will commemorate Nov. 19 with a dedication ceremony, multiple lectures, a walking tour and an appearance from Ken Burns. See the full list of events on the Gettysburg visitors bureau website.

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