Recite the Gettysburg Address

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.

9 Comments

  1. Indigo McNutt
    November 12, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    So why is there no link to the actual text. I am not a video-holic.

  2. Mandy
    November 12, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    We had to recite the Gettysburg Address from memory when I was in 5th grade (the late 80s – not that long ago!). Somehow I doubt students have to do this anymore, but they should!

  3. Erin Allen
    November 12, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Thanks Indigo. We have a full transcription of the address in the Civil War online exhibition mentioned in the blog post. Here is a direct link. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/gettysburg-address/?loclr=blogloc

  4. loring
    November 12, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    would have thought you would at least have the correct date. may want to look at what you published. try Nov 19,1863. battle was July 1- 3, 1863.

  5. CCS
    November 13, 2013 at 8:31 am

    The post does say the speech was given November 19, 1863. Not sure what you were reading, loring. Erin, thanks for the information about this interesting project. Looking forward to seeing the results. The Civil War exhibit at the Library is fascinating, too.

  6. Erin Allen
    November 13, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Thank you so much, Loring, for catching the mistake!

  7. Erin Allen
    November 13, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Thank you so much, CCS, for your comment. Loring was, in fact, correct and I in the process of notating the correction. As always, thanks for reading!

  8. ashley
    August 15, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Thats an amazing speech he made!

  9. Lucas Rendulic
    November 10, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    I think this is one of the most important speeches in our country’s history. As a fourth grade history teacher in Pennsylvania I encourage my students to take a trip out to Gettysburg to see what is truly a life changing experience. To walk on the battlefields and stand on such hallowed ground, it is a humbling experience. I love showing the actual photograph taken that day from the Library of Congress archives and showing it to the students. I try to see if they can locate Lincoln in the picture. In regards to reciting the Gettysburg Address, it was cool to see so many famous people get involved with the reciting. I am thinking at my school having all the teachers from different grade levels recite the speech, and put it together to show my students.
    I always enjoyed Ken Burns and his documentary “The Civil War” and I recommend it to anyone that wants to know the history about the War Between the States.

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