Gettysburg Address 150 Years

“And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD Is My Banner,”
Exodus 17:15

from National Park Service websiteA painting of Union Soldiers at Gettysburg
National Park Service

THE BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC
lyrics by Julia Ward Howe, 1861

First stanza

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

Glory, glory hallelujah!
Glory, glory hallelujah!
Glory, glory hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

~

150 YEARS AGO TODAY
on
November 19, 1863

The
Soldier’s National Cemetery

at the
Gettysburg Battlefield
was dedicated

Park Visitors at Lincoln Speech MemorialPark visitors at the Lincoln Speech Memorial, Gettysburg National Military Park,
Pennsylvania

National Park Service

One hundred fifty years ago, the Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1-3, 1863, with General Robert E. Lee leading his defeated Confederates back toward Virginia on July 4.  23,000 Union soldiers lost their lives and 28,000 Confederate soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing in this one battle.

Penn. monument. GettysburgThe Pennsylvania Monument is inscribed with the names of all the Pennsylvanians who fought at Gettysburg
National Parks Service

The Battle of Gettysburg, along with the Battle of Vicksburg, which was also won on July 4 – the 87th birthday of the Declaration of Independence – turned the tide toward the eventual Union victory in 1865.

The Valley of Death and Devil's Den as viewed from the statue to General Warren on Little Round Top, 1910.The “Valley of Death” and Devil’s Den as viewed from the statue to General Warren on Little Round Top, 1910.
National Park Service

~

John Burns Monument at GettysburgJohn Burns - An elderly resident [72 years old] of Gettysburg in 1863, this veteran of the War of 1812 took his musket and powder horn and walked out of town to fight beside Union troops on July 1, 1863. Wounded in the legs, he made his way home where he was left in peace by Confederate occupiers of the town. Burns became a national hero after the battle and was the first resident of the town that President Abraham Lincoln stated he wished to meet during his trip to dedicate the Soldiers’ National Cemetery that November.
National Park Service

At the cemetery’s dedication, President Abraham Lincoln followed the two-hour-long, featured speech of orator Edward Everett.  Having been asked for “a few appropriate remarks,” with just 272 words, spoken in two minutes, Lincoln’s speech immediately found a permanent place in American history (the full text appears below).  The two speakers commemorated the lives of the soldiers who fought and died there, dedicating their final resting place as one of the first national cemeteries in our nation.

Stone wall on Cemetery Ridge divides Union and Confederate MonumentsStone wall on Cemetery Ridge divides Union and Confederate Monuments
National Park Service

President Lincoln invoked the original words and ideals of the Declaration of Independence in commemorating the most important battle fought in the American Civil War.  He ended by declaring to the world,

“. . . 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.”

~

Now we are engaged in a new struggle to preserve this nation under God, against the forces imposing a fundamental transformation destroying our liberty while building a government designed to establish tyranny over the minds, bodies, and souls of all Americans.  They seek to enslave us and our posterity, using the evil “promise” of a fictitious, impossible “collective body.”

It is our noble and righteous task to thwart their plans by spreading truth to our Fellow-Americans by God’s gracious will; to renew that immortal Declaration of Independence and our Liberty under God, and to restore our Constitution and Bill of Rights toward a new birth of true American Freedom.  That, under God’s Providence, We the People shall revive:

our
government of the people, by the people, for the people
that it truly
shall not perish from the earth.

Eagle.Flag 9.10.13

 

~

GETTYSBURG ADDRESS
President Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

“Fourscore 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.”

 Sunset at Gettysburg National Park Service

Sunset at Gettysburg
National Park Service

*  *  *  *  *

“The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy the gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people; then shall we both deserve and enjoy it.  While, on the other hand, if we are universally vicious and debauched in our manners, though the form of our Constitution carries the face of the most exalted freedom, we shall in reality be the most abject slaves.”    Samuel Adams

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[The first stanza and chorus of The Battle Hymn of the Republic also appear in the Poetry and Lyrics” Menu section at the top of every site page, or click here.  The full text of the Gettysburg Address is in the “Historical Documents” Menu section, or click here.]