The Gettysburg Address was a speech given by President Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863, at the official dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery (now called the Gettysburg National Cemetery) at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was an important occasion for the Nation to honor those who had given their lives during the Battle of Gettysburg.

The Battle of Gettysburg on July 1-3, 1863, was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War (1861-1865). The Union North and Confederate South lost more than 7,000 men during the three-day battle. Over 45,000 were wounded, and more than 10,000 were captured or missing. The cemetery was planned as the final resting place for more than 3,500 Union soldiers who lost their lives at Gettysburg.

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address begins with the words, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” A score is another way of saying 20, so Lincoln was referring to 1776, which was 87 years before 1863. Lincoln was declaring that the United States would continue to fight to preserve the nation that was created by the Founding Fathers who wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Gettysburg Address facts and figures:

  • At the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, the text of the Gettysburg Address is carved into one of the walls beside the statue of President Lincoln.
  • Lincoln’s speech lasted only two minutes, and contained only 272 words; one of the other speakers at the event, Edward Everett, spoke for two hours.

To see copies of the original Gettysburg Address, see the Library of Congress site.

To learn more, see the Gettysburg National Military Park site.