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Lincoln's Words at Gettysburg


National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Penn., where President Abraham Lincoln gave his now famous speech, the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln is visible facing the crowd, not wearing a hat, about an inch below the third flag from the left. Josephine Cobb first found Lincoln's face while working with a glass plate negative at the National Archives in 1952. (Library of Congress)

National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Penn., where President Abraham Lincoln gave his now famous speech, the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln is visible facing the crowd, not wearing a hat, about an inch below the third flag from the left. Josephine Cobb first found Lincoln's face while working with a glass plate negative at the National Archives in 1952. (Library of Congress)

Editor's Note: On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln spoke at the dedication ceremony for the National Cemetery of Gettysburg in the state of Pennsylvania. The brief address, known as the Gettysburg Address, would be remembered as one of the most important speeches in American history.


"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 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 for 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."

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Words in This Address

dedicatedadj. having strong support or loyalty; v. used time, money or energy for a purpose

dedicate - v. officially make a place for remembering someone or something;

proposition n. a statement to be proved, explained or discussed

consecratev. to make something holy

devotionn. a feeling of strong love or loyalty

resolvev. make a final, serious decision

in vainadj. without producing a good result

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