On Nov. 19,
1862 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the cemetery at the Civil War battlefield. One of the most famous speeches in American history, the speech is recognized as a literary masterpiece. In three short paragraphs—some 270 words—Lincoln proclaimed the principles upon which the nation was founded, honored the men who had given “the last full measure of devotion” in its defense, and challenged all citizens to a renewed commitment to freedom and democracy.
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the address, documentarian Ken Burns, along with numerous partners, has launched today a national effort to encourage everyone in America to video record themselves reading or reciting the speech. Among the notables participating in the project are the Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, all the living American presidents, Taylor Swift, Martha Stewart, Steven Spielberg, Uma Thurman and Stephen Colbert.
Here you can watch the Librarian recite the speech.
You can visit the website Learn the Address for more videos and information on the project.
The commemorate the anniversary, the Library of Congress is currently displaying the Nicolay copy of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in the spectacular Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building through Nov. 19, before the top treasure is placed in the Library’s exhibition “The Civil War in America.”
The Library of Congress holds two copies of the address: the Nicolay copy and the Hay copy, which are two of the five known manuscript copies handwritten by Abraham Lincoln. Likely the reading copy used at Gettysburg, the Nicolay copy was in the possession of Lincoln’s secretary John George Nicolay until his death in 1901. The Hay copy, or second draft, was made by the president shortly after his return to Washington from Gettysburg, and found among the papers of Lincoln’s other secretary, John Hay. Hay’s descendants donated both the Hay and the Nicolay copies to the Library of Congress in 1916.