The Gettysburg Address has been called one of America’s greatest speeches, focusing on President Abraham Lincoln’s thoughts on America’s principles of human equality and the importance of the Civil War.
While there are no audio recordings, and just one photo, from the Gettysburg Address, we still know plenty about the famous two-minute speech. Here is the exact transcript:
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.
You’ve probably heard of the now famous opening phrase, “Four score and seven years ago,” but maybe you don’t know what it means? A score means 20, so four score is 80. So the phrase, “Four score and seven years ago,” means 87 years ago an refers to the founding of America.
Take a look at some really cool Gettysburg Address historical items.
The only known photo of President Abraham Lincoln delivering the speech.
A close up of the president from the same photo.
An image from the crowds attending the address.
An original draft of the Gettysburg Address, with Lincoln’s handwritten notes.
The New York Times newspaper’s recap of the speech from the following day.