One of the best-known speeches in American history, the Gettysburg Address, was delivered by the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Though the speech was just 273 words long, its power still resonates with a desire for “a new birth of freedom”.
Delivered on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, when America was gripped by Civil War, Lincoln’s speech reiterated the principles of human equality first espoused in the Declaration of Independence.
The setting was the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on the site of one of the bloodiest battles in American history. Lincoln used this opportunity to make a broad statement about the enormous impact of the war and the values that America was first founded on.
After a two hour speech from Secretary of State William H. Seward, Lincoln spoke for less than two minutes beginning with the now-iconic phrase “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.”
Lincoln led America through the Civil War but tragically did not live to see its conclusion after he was assassinated by Southern sympathiser, John Wilkes Booth, less than a month before the war was declared over.
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address has come to be regarded as one of the most elegant and eloquent speeches in U.S. history.
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