President Abraham Lincoln delivered, on November 19, 1863, a military dedication during the American Civil War. His dedication at a military cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania was to become one of the most famous speeches of all time.
Though only 272 words long, Lincoln’s address moved the public in its reminder of the necessity of the Union’s fight to win. Just four months prior to his speech the Battle of Gettysburg was waged. It was the bloodiest battle fought in the Civil War killing more than 45,000 men in just three days time and the point at which General Robert E. Lee retreated from Gettysburg in defeat. It was the last Confederate invasion of Northern territory.
Proceeding Lincoln’s words, that took him only a few minutes to deliver, the crowds listened for two hours as Edward Everett, one of the most famous orators of the day, delivered his wordy and meticulously prepared dedication. And though a fine orator, Everett’s many words were eclipsed by Lincoln’s brief, yet brilliant and moving address.
This was what he said in its conclusion: “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.”
Source: This Day In History: 11/19/1863 – Lincoln Gettysburg Address. (2012). The History Channel website. Retrieved 11:16, November 19, 2012, from http://www.history.com , http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/11/19.