The Gettysburg Address: 158th Anniversary

One of the most famous speeches in American History was delivered at the dedication ceremony for the new National Cemetery at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863. This was four months after the turning point of the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg.

This cemetery was created to be a permanent resting place for the Union soldiers that fell at the Battle of Gettysburg. The new cemetery is bordered by the existing Evergreen Cemetery. This cemetery was founded in 1854 and the only civilian killed during the battle, Jennie Wade, is buried at Evergreen. The front gate was the site of fighting on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

The front gate of the Evergreen Cemetery.

While the there is a monument to the Gettysburg Address on the grounds of the National Cemetery, featuring a bust of Lincoln, the speakers platform where Lincoln delivered the famous words was actually on the grounds of Evergreen Cemetery.

This is an ink sketch I did while seated in the National Cemetery looking towards the location of the speaker’s plateform
The bust of Lincoln at the Gettysburg Address Monument.

The most famous 272 words in American history, delivered my Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, November 19, 1863.

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.

Lincoln arrived by train in Gettysburg they day before. While it is untrue that he wrote the speech on the train ride from Washington, he did put the finishing touches on the speech at David Wills house in the center of Gettysburg. Wills was a prominent lawyer who hosted the president during his stay in Gettysburg.

The Gettysburg Train station where president arrived the day before he gave his Gettysburg Address.

Sketching Note: the featured sketch is made up of the first hand written draft of the Gettysburg Address by President Lincoln. I attempted to imitate Lincoln’s script. The silhouette of Lincoln was sketched in the field, a few blocks from my house in San Francisco. It is a mural on the side of Lincoln High School, where my father was a graduate in 1950.

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