Gettysburg Address 150th Anniversary

Yesterday, November 19th, was the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This tiny town near the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania was the sight of the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War. In just three days the opposing foes, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac, suffered over 50,000 casualties (soldiers missing, wounded, or killed). Over 10,000 men lost their lives. The scale of this battle is practically incomprehensible to us today. Upon the dedication of the Soldier’s National Cemetery on that battlefield four months later, President Abraham Lincoln chose to deliver just a 2 minute speech to the crowd of thousands who had gathered there. This speech, which he himself believed no one would remember, is still one of the most profound pieces of oratory in American history.

In 1984, a Maroon contributor named Stan Hjartberg wrote a fictional story depicting the reception Lincoln would have received had he tried to get his speech published in a local newspaper. At the end of the story is the newspaper editor’s version of Lincoln’s speech, simplified for the public. Do you believe this ‘dumbed down’ version is more or less powerful and meaningful than the original?

Maroon Article, 1984

Maroon Article, 1984

Original Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863

Original Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863

Found in the Archives is a recurring series of crazy cool stuff found in the Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives.

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