Gettysburg Address

Four months after the Battle of Gettysburg, which caused 50,000 casualties—soldiers dead, wounded, and missing—President Lincoln was invited to speak at the dedication of a national cemetery at the site. A mere 275 words, Lincoln’s three-minute-long address redefined the significance of the Civil War. Drawing upon biblical ideas of suffering, consecration, and resurrection, Lincoln framed the war as a chapter in the modern struggle for self-government, liberty, and equality. Considered at the time a sidebar to Senator Edward Everett’s two-hour oration, Lincoln’s address soon emerged not only as the seminal event at Gettysburg but as one of the most visionary speeches of the nineteenth century.