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Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address November 19, 1863

Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg
Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg
Photo is a reprint of a small detail of a photo showing the crowd gathered for the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Penn., where President Abraham Lincoln gave his now famous speech, the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln is visible facing the crowd, not wearing a hat, about an inch below the third flag from the left. Josephine Cobb first found Lincoln’s face while working with a glass plate negative at the National Archives in 1952. (Source: NARA, Rare Photo of Lincoln at Gettysburg, http://blogs.archives.gov/prologue/?p=2564)

In a speech of just over 250 words, and only two minutes long, President Abraham Lincoln provided a “few appropriate remarks” summarizing the national situation and reminding those in attendance that the work started must be completed. Union forces must continue to fight in order to preserve the nation.

While Lincoln was in Gettysburg, he stayed at the David Wills House, located in downtown Gettysburg at Lincoln Square. The house is operated by the National Park Service and admission is free. It is recommended to check the website before visiting as hours do change throughout the year. Here, you can visit the room where President Lincoln put the final touches on what might be his most famous speech.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coloring Books to Relax

The text below is quoted from the Bliss Copy of the address as provided by the National Park Service. To learn about the five differing versions of the Gettysburg Address please visit Abraham Lincoln Online.

Gettysburg Address

Delivered at Gettysburg, PA

Nov. 19th 1863

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 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.

Lincoln’s speech, which is often quoted, has been analyzed and interpreted since it was given. There are several worthwhile books on the subject of the address and the creation of the Gettysburg National Cemetery. Below are several I recommend.


The Emerging Civil War Series is highly respected for the continual high level of scholarship these books include. Dr. Brad Gottfried is a respected academic who has served as a professor, college president, and author. His book Lincoln Comes to Gettysburg is a perfect introduction to the topic. At less than 200 pages and around $15 this is an amazing value for anybody interested in the Civil War, Gettysburg in particular, or Abraham Lincoln.

 

 

 

Perhaps the standard work on the topic is that of Gary Wills and his masterful Lincoln at Gettysburg.

By examining both the address and Lincoln in their historical moment and cultural frame, Wills breathes new life into words we thought we knew, and reveals much about a president so mythologized but often misunderstood. Wills shows how Lincoln came to change the world and to effect an intellectual revolution, how his words had to and did complete the work of the guns, and how Lincoln wove a spell that has not yet been broken.

 

 

For those a bit more advanced in your studies, I recommend seeking out The Gettysburg Gospel by Gabor Boritt.

The words Abraham Lincoln spoke at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg comprise perhaps the most famous speech in history. Many books have been written about the Gettysburg Address and yet, as Lincoln scholar Gabor Boritt shows, there is much that we don’t know about the speech. In The Gettysburg Gospel he tears away a century of myths, lies, and legends to give us a clear understanding of the greatest American’s greatest speech.

 

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.

 

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Book Review: Lincoln’s Wartime Tours from Washington D.C.

Lincoln's Wartime Tours

Schildt, John W. Lincoln’s Wartime Tours from Washington D.C. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2020. ISBN 9781467145718, 172 pages, 153 pages of text, index, bibliography, notes, b/w photos, $21.99.

Lincoln's Wartime Tours
Lincoln’s Wartime Tours from Washington D.C.

Has there ever been a more written about person that Abraham Lincoln? Ford’s Theatre houses a 34 foot book tower to the Great Emancipator, while estimating the number of titles published is more than 15,000. Moreover, every year more titles are released not even taking into account journal, magazine, and newspaper articles. Authors and publishers continue to find aspects of Lincoln’s life that have not been directly addressed, new interpretations are provided, and in some cases authors just rehash other secondary materials. The historiography is mind boggling.

Adding to the literature is John Schildt, a certified battlefield guide at Antietam National Battlefield, who has penned a new book discussing the travels made by Lincoln while he served as president. In total, Schildt covers nineteen wartime trips Lincoln made outside of Washington D.C. These trips became less frequent as the war dragged on; beginning with nine in 1862, five in 1863, four in 1864, and a single trip in 1865. (page 18) As would be expected these sojourns were made close to Washington D.C.; visiting Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York.

The author proposes that these trips were made for three specific reasons. The first was to confer with generals, second to plot military strategy, and a third reason was to visit troops in the field. (pages 16- 17). The president seemed genuinely concerned for the combatants whether they be Union or Confederate. An example being provided in a lengthy quote from the Donald C. Pfanz work Lincoln at City Point, where the president is seen moving through the tents of injured men, shaking hands, offering encouragement, sharing a tear, and telling them they had to live. When it came to Confederates, Lincoln was known to visit those who were confined to hospitals. Lincoln is shown to be a truly benevolent leader. (pages 141-145)

A continuing thread about family, in particular Mary Lincoln, runs throughout the work. Mary is often seen as difficult, jealous, and perhaps another reason for Lincoln to have tried to escape D.C. for these short periods. Tad is shown to be a boy, doing boy things, and having boyish reactions. During the 1865 trip to Virginia, the presidential entourage came across three pound bales of tobacco that some of the adults took for their own use. Tad joined in and grabbed some as well despite being too young to smoke. (pages 126-127)

Some of the visits are better known than others. The trip to Gettysburg is well documented and Lincoln’s “few appropriate remarks” is perhaps the most widely known speech of all time. Other tours are less well known and herein lies the value of the book. For those seeking a concise and easy to digest book outlining a unique aspect of Lincoln’s life this is recommended. The endnotes, more than 200 of them, are helpful for those looking for further documentation.

Thank you to Arcadia Publishing for providing a complimentary review copy of this book.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.

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Library Addition: Lincoln’s Wartime Tours from Washington D.C.

Schildt, John W. Lincoln’s Wartime Tours from Washington D.C. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing. 2020. 172 pages, b/w photos, index, bibliography, notes. ISBN 9781467145718, $21.99.

Abraham Lincoln spent much of his presidency traveling. His visits to Antietam to issue the Emancipation Proclamation and to Pennsylvania for the famed Gettysburg Address are well remembered. During the course of the war, Lincoln also traveled to West Point and Harpers Ferry. As hostilities drew to a close, he spent time on the Virginia battlefields, from Petersburg to Richmond and beyond. In this new edition of Lincoln’s Wartime Travels, John W. Schildt details visits to wounded soldiers both Union and Confederate, conferences with generals and the logistics of getting a wartime president from place to place.

John W. Schildt grew up in Walkersville, Maryland, and is a graduate of Shepherd University and Wesley Theological Seminary. He has been a pastor, teacher and chaplain of the Twenty-Ninth Division Association. He is a founding member of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland, as well as the Save Historic Antietam Foundation. Among his many books are Drums Along the Antietam, Roads to Gettysburg, These Honored Dead and others. As a certified guide at Antietam, he has led tours of individuals, colleges, military groups and others for fifty years. Buy Book

Disclaimer: Arcadia Publishing has generously provided a complimentary copy of this book for me to review. Any comments or opinions are my own and are not influenced by the publisher. Links provided in this post may be affiliate links and any purchase made through them may earn me a small commission which does not influence the price you pay.