Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in 1863
by Ron Kurtus (revised 17 February 2018)
U.S. President Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863, at the site of the bloody July 1-3, 1863 Civil War battle in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was a heart-rendering speech that stated President Lincoln's feelings about the war and the Country.
Questions you may have include:
- How can I use this speech to improve my writing skills?
- How can I use this address to improve my speaking skills?
- What is the historical significance of the speech?
This lesson will answer those questions.
Learning from speech
Read this speech to gain insight on writing speeches and public speaking.
You can read the speech to examine its logical flow and use of imagery and emotional appeal. Note the length of the sentences and use of pauses. Short phrases make for effective delivery.
You can also outline the the speech to show where new ideas are presented and grouped.
(See Speech Writing for more information.)
Read part of the speech aloud—perhaps to a small audience or to yourself in a mirror. Pause at the commas and periods to allow for better understanding by the audience. Vary your pitch, rate and emotional level as you see fit.
(See Public Speaking for more information.)
Outline the Gettysburg Address to select the major points stated by the President.
Did he try to achieve these goals? Did he achieve them? If not, why not?
Audio of address
You can hear an audio of Abraham Lincoln's speech to read along. Note that it is not Lincoln's voice but a slightly mechanical computerized voice. Unfortunately, it does not contain the inflection and emphasis of a true orator.
Note: If you want to hear the text being read, click the Play button. It takes a few seconds for the sound to start. The voices are somewhat mechanical for computer use.
Length of speech = 1 min. 31 sec.
President Abraham Lincoln:
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.
Body of speech
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 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 and proper that we should do this.
But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot 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.
Use this Gettysburg Address by President Abraham Lincoln to improve your skills in speech writing, public speaking, or history.
Be patient, but persevere
Resources and references
Biography of Abraham Lincoln - From the White House site
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Students and researchers
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Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in 1963