The Gettysburg Address delivered by President Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863, is one of the most famous speeches in American history.

The occasion was the dedication of the national cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in honor of those who fought and died during that crucial and historic Civil War battle which the North won.

The famous orator of the time was Edward Everett. Initially planned for October 23rd, the dedication was moved to November 19th because Mr. Everett could not meet the October date; he needed more time to prepare. Mr. Lincoln’s invitation to speak was an after-thought. Edward Everett had 2 months to prepare. Mr. Lincoln was given 2 weeks.

On November 18th President Lincoln and his entourage traveled to Gettysburg from Washington, DC by train. Upon arrival, Lincoln stayed at the large home of Judge David Wills, a wealthy lawyer who planned the entire event.

On November 19th, 9:30am President Lincoln rode a brown horse to the grounds to be dedicated. Members of the presidential party rode horses and drove wagons while others walked.

Mr. Everett spoke for 2 hours, followed by Mr. Lincoln, who spoke for 2-3 minutes. 15,000 people attended. The great orator Everett was so impressed by Lincoln’s speech he sent the president a note commending him on it and asked for a copy of the president’s speech.

The Gettysburg Address by President Lincoln will appear in a separate post later this August; as well as Mr. Everett’s letter to the president one day after the dedication.

Note: Grammar and punctuation are in accordance with the writer’s time period.

Invitation to President Abraham Lincoln
to Speak at Gettysburg Cemetery Dedication

Gettysburg, Nov. 2nd 1863

 
To His Excellency
A. Lincoln
President of the United States

Sir,

The several States having soldiers in the Army of the Potomac, who were killed at the Battle of Gettysburg, or have since died at the various hospitals which were established in the vicinity, have procured grounds on a prominent part of the Battle Field for a Cemetery, and are having the dead removed to there and properly buried.

These grounds will be consecrated and set apart to this sacred purpose, by appropriate ceremonies on Thursday, the 19th instant. – Hon. Edward Everett will deliver the Oration.

I am authorized by the governments of the different States to invite you to be present, and participate in these ceremonies, which will doubtless be very imposing and solemnly impressive.

It is the desire that, after the Oration, you, as Chief Executive of the Nation, formally set apart these grounds to their sacred use by a few appropriate remarks.

It will be a source of great gratification to the many widows and orphans that have been made almost friendless by the Great Battle here, to have you here personally and it will kindle anew in the breast of the comrades of these brave dead, who are now in the tented field or nobly meeting the foe in the front, a confidence that they who sleep in death on the Battle Field are not forgotten by those highest in authority; and they will feel that, should their fate be the same, their remains will not be uncared for.

We hope you will be able to present to perform this last solemn act to the soldiers dead on this Battle Field.

I am with great respect, Your Excellency’s
Obedient Servant,
David Will

Agent for A.G. Curtin, Gov. of Pennsylvania
and acting for all the States

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