Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address 147 years ago today, and if the mark of a great speech is how it stands the test of time, then this one is pretty amazing. Its themes of hope, liberty and patriotism still ring true today.
Teach your kids about this speech with these interesting facts about it, plus take a look at the full text of the speech at the bottom. I think today’s politicians could learn from its clarity (and its brevity).
* I’m not kidding about brevity – the speech was less than 2 minutes long.
* It was made at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg.
* The date was Nov. 19, 1863 (in case you couldn’t figure it out from my math up there).
* Four score and seven years ago = 87 years (a score is 20 years). He was referencing 1776 (this is a good activity for an elementary student – figure out what year that was).
* There are five different manuscripts of the speech; no one agrees which one is right.
* There is also disagreement over whether anyone applauded when it was done.
Here’s the text (well, one of the five versions). Pretty amazing stuff.
The Gettysburg Address
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.
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