4150 HISTORIC DOCUMENTS
LINCOLN'S GETTYSBURG ADDRESS
[Editor's Note: This immortal address of 267 words was delivered by President Lincoln at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery, November
12, 1863. It is related that President Lincoln was too much occupied with many
pressing matters to find time to prepare any formal address for the occasion.
Instead, he jotted these few words down while on the train on his way to the
battlefield. Spoken at the ceremonies, modestly and inconspicuously, they
attracted no great attention at the time, and had no particular prominence in
the current newspaper reports. But their deep force and strength were soon
recognized, and won for the brief oration a place in the front ranks of American
An elaborate address for the occasion, prepared and delivered by one of
the nation's noted orators, has long since been forgotten, while these simple
words of the immortal Lincoln have become a classic wherever the English language is spoken.]
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 battlefield 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 large 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.