This day in history: Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
I had the great pleasure of visiting Gettysburg with my family earlier this year and what a feeling it was to stand on the ground where so many valiant soldiers (both on the North and the South) fought in what turned out to the turning point in the Civil. Looking over Cemetery Ridge, Seminary Hill, Little Round Top, the Peach Orchard, the Devils Den, the Slaughter Pit, Emmitsburg Road, and the copse of trees the feeling of history was immeasurable. Just standing on this ground was powerful and I look forward to someday visiting more Civil War battlefields; Chancellorsville (where General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was killed) and Antietam being the first two on my list.
It was on this day in 1863 that President Lincoln coined what is now considered one of the best speeches in United States history, and so I am reposting what I wrote last year on this historic date, with the addition of the slide shows of my trip to Gettysburg:
November 19th, 1863: a crowd gathers to witness the dedication of the nation’s first national cemetery. The site is Gettysburg Pennsylvania, where less than five moths earlier the Confederate army led by Robert E Lee made its last incursion into Northern territory before being driven south by the Union army which was commanded by General Meade.
This Union victory is considered the turning point in the Civil War, for up until that point while the Union had managed a few victories they were turned back on many occasions and moral in the North was at an all time low before this battle. Ironically the victorious General Meade was relieved by President Lincoln shortly after this battle because he failed to pursue General Lee’s troops and demolish them while they were on the run.
General Meade was replaced by Ulysses S Grant who led the Union into the battle of the Wilderness, and while that battle was considered a draw, it was what happened next that was of the most import. The Union soldiers expected to either fall back into defensive positions or remain where they were as General Lee escaped once again, but they cheered loudly when General Grant declared that they would pursue General Lee and would not stop until victory was achieved. Lincoln had finally found his general and the rest is history.
Edward Everett–who was considered the “key note” speaker and was the great orator of the time–spoke for over two hours before giving way to President Lincoln, but nobody remembers what Edward Everett said that day because his speech was eclipsed in just over two minutes by the man who gave what is considered to be one of the greatest speeches of all time.
Edward Everett himself said this of the Gettysburg address in a letter he wrote to President Lincoln the following day: “I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near the central idea of the occasion in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”
During the Gettysburg Address Abraham Lincoln stated, “the world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here.” Oh, how wrong he was about that, history has never forgotten what President Lincoln said on that day.
Here is a video tribute to the Gettysburg Address: