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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

November 19, 1863

Gettysburg Address

A National Cemetery for those who had died at Gettysburg was dedicated on this day. There were ceremonies throughout the day, culminating with a speech by noted orator Edward Everett. He spoke for two full hours. Following his speech a patriotic song was sung by a large chorus gathered for the occasion. With the festivities winding down, President Abraham Lincoln was finally introduced to make some brief remarks:

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 larger sense, we cannot dedicate-we cannot consecrate-we cannot 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.

Lincoln thought his speech was a failure, after the two hour oration by Everett. But he was mistaken. While he may have thought the world would not long remember what was said there, in fact it became one of the most famous speeches in American - and world - history. Of course, we all know it today as the Gettysburg Address.