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Reflecting on the Historic Importance of The Gettysburg address

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Wed, Nov 27, 2013 @ 08:00 AM

Gettysburg Address

A NATIONAL TREASURE - THE FULL TEXT OF THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS

If we look back at events that transpired 150 years ago, we may consider ourselves to be far removed from the sentiments conveyed by President Abraham Lincoln at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Actually, much of what was conveyed in this brief oration remains true in the context of modern life.

The timing of President Lincoln’s remarks on November 19, 1863, fell four and a half months after the Battle of Gettysburg, where nearly 8,000 American lives were lost over a course of three days. The dedication of the national cemetery set into motion the process of relocating bodies of soldiers who had been buried in nearby church and hospital cemeteries and it provided for a proper burial for the many fallen soldiers whose bodies remained on the battlefield, or buried hurriedly in shallow graves.

President Abraham Lincoln

THE LAST PHOTOGRAPH EVER TAKEN OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, IN 1865

This somber event required any speaker to show respect to the fallen soldiers and provide hope for a brighter day that is directly attributed to sacrifices made. Nationally known keynote speaker, Edward Everett, spent two hours addressing the crowd before introducing President Lincoln. It would seem that President Lincoln could have chosen to curtail his remarks after this lengthy oration but with some investigation, any researcher would see that he intended to be brief. The Gettysburg Address has come to be one of the most well-known speeches in history. Although the entire speech was delivered in less than three minutes, its content was rich and the sentiments conveyed were powerful.

Lincoln Memorial

THE HANDSOME LINCOLN MEMORIAL IN WASHINGTON DC, WHOSE 1922 DEDICATION WAS ATTENDED BY ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S SON ROBERT TODD LINCOLN

Historians have compared President Lincoln’s remarks to sources that appear to have influenced his choice of words. More specifically, the principles of human equality conveyed by the Declaration of Independence were echoed when President Lincoln referred to the “new birth of freedom” made possible by the recent struggle. It appears that this parallel was deliberate evidenced by the introductory phrase "Four score and seven years ago."

Other noted parallels include a structural resemblance to Pericles's Funeral Oration during the Peloponnesian War circa 400 BC as described by Thucydides. Both begin by acknowledging predecessors, followed by praise for dedication to democracy, respect for those who have sacrificed their lives for the cause, and motivation for the living to continue the fight.

Gettysburg Address

THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS AS WRITTEN BY THE HAND OF PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Another recognized influence is the words of Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster, "Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable" and "made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people." Additionally, many American historians recognize the literary style of the King James Bible in President Lincoln’s speech and writing.

President Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg address before and while the President was traveling by railroad to Pennsylvania. Reporters who captured the exact wording of the speech as it was delivered agree that its content differs slightly from each of the five handwritten copies that have been preserved; most notably, the addition of the words “under God” in the phrase “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.”

painting of Abraham Lincoln

GEORGE PETER ALEXANDER HEALY'S 1869 PAINTING OF PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Two versions had been written before the speech was delivered. They were provided to John Nicolay and John Hay, President Lincoln’s private secretaries. The remaining three versions were created upon request later and were provided to Massachusetts politician Edward Everett, historian and former Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft, and Colonel Alexander Bliss, the stepson of historian George Bancroft. The only version that includes President Lincoln’s signature and date is the one provided to Colonel Bliss, known as the Bliss copy. This is the version that is referenced most often.

The lasting value of these words was echoed in 1963, when President John F. Kennedy stated "Five score years ago the ground on which we here stand shuddered under the clash of arms and was consecrated for all time by the blood of American manhood. Abraham Lincoln, in dedicating this great battlefield, has expressed, in words too eloquent for paraphrase or summary, why this sacrifice was necessary."

Raleigh DeGeer AmyxRENOWNED COLLECTOR RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX

Raleigh DeGeer Amyx is a collector of museum-quality American historical memorabilia. Mr. Amyx has spent over a quarter of a century focusing on important artifacts, providing expert consultation for government and private entities as well as acquiring, selling, and trading important historically significant items. Mr. Amyx is proud to have acquired several authentic artifacts owned by U.S. Presidents including Abraham Lincoln. To discuss purchase, sale or trade of museum-quality historical artifacts, please contact Mr. Amyx.

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