19 Nov. 1863: The Gettysburg Address

Four and a half months after the Battle of Gettysburg, on the afternoon of Thursday 19 November 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered a "few appropriate remarks" at the dedication of the cemetery for fallen soldiers.

After a 13,607 word speech by Edward Everett, the President’s address consisted of 10 sentences in 272 words.

The Gettysburg Address is one of the greatest pieces of public oratory in history.

I recently visited the Battlefield and the Cemetery. Here are a few images.


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.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Concerned says:

    And still not one photo of of the statue of Fr. William Corby, CSC granting general absolution to the troops. I am saddened. [Nihil dat quod not habet.]

    Otherwise, it looked like a beautiful day on such sacred ground.

  2. Beautiful. Good. True.

  3. Simpson Snail says:

    Our family visited Gettysburg this summer, and every American should be required to do so, as well. One thing that surprised me was the simple enormity of it, the thousands and thousands who fought and died or were gravely wounded, and the vast area where the battle took place. We were moved by dozen of stories of individual bravery and heroics and were so inspired by those who put others before themselves and died for what they believed to be right.

  4. R Koster says:

    I visited the area years ago along with Antietam. Both were so moving. My history teacher in college required that all of her students memorize that address and I haven’t forgotten it. No American should ever forget…

  5. mysticalrose says:

    Next time you go to Gettysburg, Fr. Z, check out the dairy in Antietam for the best ice cream ever!

  6. Rick says:

    One of my ancestors died at Gettysburg (Confederate). The Gettysburg Address is one of the great pieces of American propaganda.

  7. Forrest says:




  8. fortradition says:

    R. Koster….My teacher in the 7th grade, a Sister, had all of us memorize the Gettysburg Address and then, individually, we had to recite it in other classrooms. I had to recite it to the 8th grade class. I got through it ok, but it was still scary. We did a lot of recitations in those days back in the 1950’s. Gettysburg has a new Information Center complete with a cafe serving some Civil War dishes.

  9. Rachel says:

    I love Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural Address in huge letters at the Lincoln Memorial, especially:

    ‘Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”‘

    The Gettysburg Address is beautiful too. I wrote a report on it in elementary school and learned that the crowd had expected a much longer speech. The photographers weren’t even set up yet, and the applause was light because everyone was so surprised it was over. But if it’d been longer, would we remember it as well?

    [My anti-spam word is “lewis n short”. What in the world is that?]

  10. Luke says:

    I just came back from a weekend in Springfield, IL going to a few Lincoln sites: the Museum and Library, his home, and his tomb.

    The Museum was average; fine presentations, but lacking on information. For instance, there is little information about the selecting of his ‘team of rivals’ nor anything of the controversy over war time powers abuse. It very much de-myths the mortal, which I think was the museum’s goal. You do come away with it thinking he was an ordinary man, but a good ordinary man, who worked hard and saw the benefits from the hard work.

    His Gettysburg Address, along with so many other quotes, greatly show his wisdom and understanding of the scope and power of the events he was surrounded in. Propaganda? Perhaps in the sense that it is emotional and dramatic. But there is certainly no lack of truth in the underlying principles set forth in it: common human dignity and political equality for all. In our world of secular saints, Lincoln is one of the few who deserves the awe and respect for both what he did and who he was.

  11. Luke says:

    I’m sorry; I included “awe” in my last sentence. Strike that, and just go with respect. I suppose appreciation as well.

    Look, after just learning more about the strict humanity of Lincoln, I have unintentionally placed him on a Divine level.

  12. I go to Gettysburg several times a year, and am heading there this weekend. I am a huge Civil War enthusiast, and living 2 1/2 hours from the battlefield is a great delight and allows me my Civil War indulgence. Next time you go to G’burg, let me know, I can show you all kinds of things the general siteseeing public doesn’t know about.

    Rachel – Lewis and Short is a Latin-English dictionary.

    And if this html works, here is a photo of everyone’s favorite Holy Cross priest, the illustrious Rev. William Corby.

  13. If you get a chance, Fr. Z., visit the Battlefield of Antietam, or as some call it Sharpsburg, over in western Maryland. It is much less developed than Gettysburg and very solemn, esp. on the heights above the Burnside Bridge which are still small farms. It is a very moving place. [I have been there. Amazing.]

    But then I am prejudiced as my great-grandfather was a private with the 51th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment when they, with a Pennsylvania Regiment, were the first to cross the “Burnside Bridge.” The union forever, hurrah, boys, hurrah!

  14. “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.” How many politicians today mention God? It seems only those who want to eliminate Him. Those that call for separation of church and state as a means to eliminate church from the society never mention words like these. But we know the end of the Book.

  15. tertullian says:

    Some may enjoy reading this book, a collection of Lincoln’s telegraph messages compiled from the Archives.


  16. Oliver says:

    A nice little bit of Americanist propaganda in the usual name of freedom and liberty. That so much stuff like this is swallowed by so-called Catholics and priests is not surprising after decades of Masonic/Judaic control and manipulation. No doubt they will again fall for the empty words of another worldly messiah as he falsely postures holy script to a gullible nation of mongrels. [Nice!]

  17. jarhead462 says:


    Your synapses are misfiring again.

    Semper Fi!

  18. Liam says:

    “Judaic control and manipulation”

    Anti-Jewish diatribes are the very last thing the Church of Christ needs to defend Her. Vile.

  19. Frank H says:

    One of my favorite segments from the old NPR series “Lost and Found Sound” was this one, featuring a recording by a man who, as a young boy, witnessed the Gettyburg Address.


  20. Spiko says:

    Note on the Gettysburg Address
    by H.L. Mencken

    The Gettysburg speech was at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history…the highest emotion reduced to a few poetical phrases. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous. But let us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination – that government of the people, by the people, for the people, should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves.

    Think. The American public, ever since the Lincoln assassination, has been educated to believe that our republic is still the one devised by our founding fathers. It is not. Abraham Lincoln and his party destroyed federalism and final nail was the passage of the 17th amendment. I implore Father Z and others to study this important part of our history, not from a federal (ie: public education) viewpoint, but from an objective viewpoint. Read Thomas Woods or Thomas Dilorenzo for objective analysis on Lincoln, the War, and the aftermath. Go to http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig2/lincoln-arch.html for a very good compilation of information on the man.

    I know this is not a political blog, but Father Z’s decision (his blog!) to portray the address as almost emanating from the heavens is misleading and uninformed indeed (read Mencken’s lines again…).

    We are entering 2009, the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. With a black president from Illinois no less, the propaganda is going to be thick indeed…almost unbearable.

    God Bless this blog! I hope it continues to focus on things Catholic.

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