Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address Memorial is south of Gettysburg in the National Cemetery. (National Cemetery tour map) Lincoln made the speech at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery on November 19, 1863.
This is probably the only monument in the world dedicated to a speech. It includes a bronze bust of the president sculpted by Henry K. Bush-Brown, who also created the equestrian statues of Generals Meade, Reynolds and Sedgwick at Gettysburg.
A few weeks after the battle a ceremony was scheduled to dedicate the Soldiers National Cemetery, where Union dead were being gathered. The main speaker was noted orator Edward Everett. He delivered a two hour speech, very normal for the time when an oration was an entertainment event. A hymn was sung as musical interlude, then Lincoln rose to give “a few appropriate remarks.”
They were very few – ten sentences taking only about two minutes. No photographs show Lincoln speaking, as photographers were surprised by his quick finish. Reports speak of no, or very thin and scattered, applause.
But the ten sentences quickly came to be regarded as one of the greatest speeches in American history, providing guidance for a nation redefining itself in the middle of a war that threatened its very existence.
From the tablet in front of the monument
This monument commemorates
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address,
November 19, 1863.
The Address was delivered
about 300 yards from this spot
along upper Cemetery drive.
The site is now marked by the
Soldiers’ National Monument.
Dedicated Jan. 24, 1912 –
Sculptor, Henry Bush-Brown.
There are several versions of the speech. Even Lincoln’s handwritten versions differ. The version on the the right tablet of the monument is the last he is known to have set down, and the only one bearing his signature.
Text of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and 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 and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field 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 and 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 and 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—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
From the tablet on the left side of the monument
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 battlefield for a cemetery and are having the dead removed to them and properly buried.
These grounds will be consecrated and set apart to this sacred purpose on Thursday the 19th instant. It is the desire that 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 breasts of the comrades of these brave dead who are now in the tented field that they who sleep in death on the battlefield 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.
From letter of invitation to Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States who on November 19, 1863 near this place delivered the address at the dedication of the cemetery.
Location of the monument to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
The Lincoln Address Memorial is south of Gettysburg in the south end of the National Cemetery. It is about 50 yards east of the Taneytown Road gate. (39°49’03.1″N 77°13’54.7″W)