It took just over two minutes to deliver and was considered a secondary speech when the words were spoken on November 19, 1863, but those 278 words of our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, still ring in the hearts and minds of nearly every American.
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was delivered after a two-hour speech by famed orator Edward Everett, a former U.S. congressman, senator and governor of Massachusetts. Everett once served as an aide to his close friend and colleague, Daniel Webster.
Everett’s notoriety as an abolitionist as well as a famed orator brought him to the “keynote speaker” position ahead of Lincoln.
It was shortly after the election of Abraham Lincoln that seven southern states began seriously debating secession and Everett became an active participant in advancing the unsuccessful Crittenden Compromise; a last-ditch attempt to avoid a civil war.
Reportedly, Lincoln penned his now famous words on a train while en route to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the site of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle.
Lincoln’s words were a memorial to the sacrifices of those who fought at Gettysburg, but they also served as a reminder of our nation’s founding principles. Amazingly, he did it without a speech writer or a teleprompter.
Afterward Everett, the professional speaker, wrote to Lincoln saying, “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”
Lincoln, however, was wrong about one thing in his address when he spoke the words, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here.” Little did he know just how powerful his two-minute speech would be and how it would still be repeated 150 years later.
Reminding all that our nation was “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” is as important today as it was in 1863.
In honor of the 150th anniversary, we proudly present a version of The Gettysburg Address in this week’s edition of the Town and Country and hope that it serves as a reminder to all.
Maybe more of today’s politicians should shun speech-writers and teleprompters and try speaking from the heart and remembering the principles on which the United States was founded before they make decisions. Even if the elected official approves of the writing, they don’t always reflect that official’s feelings or emotions and end up being words of opportunity.
The people, for a change, would like to hear the words of their leaders instead of somebody else’s.