Lincoln's Gettysburg Address Memorial
The Gettysburg Address is a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, and one of the best-known speeches in American history. It was delivered by Lincoln during the American Civil War at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Lincoln's carefully crafted address, secondary to others' presentations that day, came to be seen as one of the greatest and most influential statements of American national purpose. In just over two minutes, Lincoln reiterated the principles of human equality espoused by the Declaration of Independence and proclaimed the Civil War as a struggle for the preservation of the Union sundered by the secession crisis, with "a new birth of freedom" that would bring true equality to all of its citizens. Lincoln also redefined the Civil War as a struggle not just for the Union, but also for the principle of human equality.
Beginning with the now-iconic phrase "Four score and seven years ago"—referring to the signing of the Declaration of Independence eighty-seven years earlier—Lincoln invoked the United States' founding principles as set forth in that document, then reminded his listeners of the peril to those principles posed by the Civil War then in progress. He extolled the sacrifices of those who died at Gettysburg in defense of those principles, and exhorted his listeners to continue the struggle for survival of the nation's representative democracy as a beacon to the world—urging resolve.