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Creating History at Gettysburg

It was a solemn occasion when President Abraham Lincoln arrived in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863, to dedicate part of the Civil War battlefield as a cemetery. The losses had been horrific: 50,000 were dead, wounded, or missing. Coffins were still piled high at the railway station waiting to be buried.

The gathered crowd numbered 15,000. For two hours, they listened to the classical oratory of the principal speaker, Edward Everett. Lincoln spoke for just three minutes. His opening line – "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" – is the most remembered and quoted in American history. The Gettysburg Address has, in fact, been called the best short speech since the Sermon on the Mount.


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