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Recite the Gettysburg Address

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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.

Comments (14)

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

  2. 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. 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.

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

  4. 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.

    • 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!

  5. Thats an amazing speech he made!

  6. 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.

  7. There could be no better time than now,
    as America is riven in two more deeply than
    at any time since the civil war – culturally,
    economically and politically – with no sign of
    any strong desires for reconciliation. Especially
    today, February 12, Lincoln s Birthday, we
    can take some conciliation and hope from the
    fact that President Trump in his Inaugural address
    said he will be the president of all the people.
    Let us pray that all Americans, and thus our elected leaders, regardless of party or ideology, take him at his
    word, and declare a truce, if not total peace,
    to end this civil war and help ensure that
    this nation with its unique and precious government
    “of the People, by the People and for the
    People” indeed “shall not perish from the Earth.”

  8. In previous comment, that should be “consolation “, not “conciliation” in the second sentence.

  9. We had to memorize and recite the Gettysburg Address in school, 5th or 6th grade,in the mid 70s It is such an important part of our History. I doubt this is required anymore or passing the Constitution test before graduating elementary school either? So sad that our Countrys’ Education system doesn’t see it important enough today.

  10. What is the author of this article? I need a name for a school project.

    • Hi Bryce,

      The article was written in 2013 by Erin Allen, a writer in the Communications Office of the Library of Congress.

      Good luck with the project!

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