Saturday, November 19, 2011


November 19, 1863


Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (JFK+50) President Abraham Lincoln spoke today at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery here in Gettysburg.

The President followed the illustrious national orator Edward Everett who spoke for two hours.

By contrast, Mr. Lincoln spoke for about three minutes.

Despite the disparity of the length of the two addresses, it is more likely that Lincoln's words will be the most remembered.

Eyewitness Sarah A. Cooke, who was standing near the podium, said there was no applause after the President stopped speaking.

Photographers, expecting to have ample time to set up their cameras, were unable to get a picture of Mr. Lincoln giving his address.*

*The following day, Edward Everett sent a letter to the President which included these words:

"I should be glad if I came near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes."

Today, Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" is widely regarded as the greatest Presidential speech in American history.

"Four score & 7 years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty & dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.  Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived & so dedicated, can long endure.  We are met on great battlefield of that war.  We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.  It is altogether fitting & proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground.  The brave men, living & dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.  The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.  It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.  It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--& that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

              Gettysburg Address Memorial
              Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

November 19, 1963


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy paid tribute to the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in a statement issued by the White House today.

President Kennedy said:

"From the past man obtains the insights, wisdom & hope to face with confidence the uncertainties of the future.  On this solemn occasion let us rededicate ourselves to the perpetuation of those ideals of which Lincoln spoke so luminously.  As Americans, we can do no less."