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The Gettysburg Address
It was the summer of 1863 when the Confederate Army general Robert E Lee, an exceptionally talented officer and engineer, took his army into Pennsylvania. At Gettysburg General Lee and his soldiers met the Union army. The battle that followed would be one of the bloodiest in the Civil War. The battle was won by the Union army, and the Confederates were forced to retreat. An estimated 50000 soldiers lost their lives.
The Gettysburg Address took place 4 months later, when President Lincoln delivered his famous speech in front of an audience of thousands during the dedication of a new cemetery. The 272 words that Lincoln spoke would become a symbol of ideals and national purpose. For the people who gathered to hear Lincoln speak, and the approximately 2500 citizens of Gettysburg it must have been a surreal experience. Not far from them lay the bodies of thousands and thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers, rotting in the summer heat.
Whether President Lincoln nonchalantly wrote down his famous Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelop not long before his actual speech was to take place remains up for discussion. It is likely that a man such as Lincoln, who was well known to be meticulous when it concerned his speeches, to have prepared the address well in advance.
On the 19th of November 1863 on the bloody battlefield near the town of Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln spoke these famous words:
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.
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