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Four Score and Seven Years Ago …

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Abraham Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address. Prints and Photographs Division.

The Gettysburg Address, which Abraham Lincoln delivered on Nov. 19, 1863, at the dedication of a national cemetery at the Gettysburg battlefield – the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War – is recognized as a literary masterpiece and one of the most important speeches in American history.

In three brief paragraphs, the president 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.

The Library of Congress will display the John Hay copy of the Gettysburg Address for six weeks, starting today through May 4, in its “Civil War in America” exhibition, located in the Thomas Jefferson Building. The Library also will extend the exhibition from its original closing date of June 1, 2013 to Jan. 4, 2014.

The John Hay copy of the address is one of five known manuscript drafts and is considered the second draft, made by Lincoln shortly after his return to Washington from Gettysburg. Lincoln gave the copy to Hay, one of his two secretaries. Hay’s descendants donated the copy to the Library of Congress in 1916.

The Library also holds the earliest known of the five drafts – known as the Nicolay Copy – of the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln’s other secretary was John Nicolay, whom this copy was entrusted to.


Comments (5)


  2. The Gettysburg Address combines the Precision of Hemingway with the Heart-Stirring Passion of Shakespeare. And it was written and spoken by a Politician. An unheard of combination before or since its first exhortation. I believe it to be the finest speech given in the entire history of the English Language.

  3. The last greatest Republican was Abraham Lincoln. It has been down hill for the Republican Party since Lincoln was in office.

    No even comes close to comparing with Lincoln and what he stood for and what he did to UNITE this country. He gave his life for his country and his beliefs.

  4. The Library of Congress blog does a great job of following the current commemoration of the Civil War. It’s a wonderful addition to understanding that conflict.

  5. Some will pronounce Reagan as “great”..Yet he described users of medicare and/or medicaid as “freeloaders”..

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