Lincoln Delivers Famed Gettysburg Address 

US #978 was issued on the 85th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.

On November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered his eloquent Gettysburg Address.

In early July 1863, General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate forces plowed northward, aiming to force Union politicians to end the war. Upon reaching Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, they met the Union Army of over 93,000 soldiers against their almost 72,000. A bloody three-day fight ensued, resulting in the largest number of casualties in single battle throughout the entire war (about 23,000 killed, wounded, captured, or missing on both sides).

US #978 – Classic First Day Cover.

Soon after the battle, the people of Gettysburg sought a dignified and orderly way to bury the more than 7,500 soldiers’ bodies remaining on the battlefield. David Wills, a wealthy attorney, purchased the land needed for the cemetery that would be further funded by the states.

US # 1180 – This stamp was produced following the first nationwide contest inviting artists to design a US stamp.

On November 19, 1863, the Soldiers’ National Cemetery (later named the Gettysburg National Cemetery) held its dedication ceremony. The main speaker was Edward Everett, who held the crowd’s attention throughout his two-hour oration. Then Abraham Lincoln stood up to say “a few appropriate remarks,” as requested by the cemetery committee.

US #4788 pictures an 1887 chromolithograph by Thure de Thulstrup.

Soldier and lawyer E.W. Andrews was present that day, and remembered, “On this occasion came out before the vast assembly, and stepped slowly to the front of the platform, with his hands clasped before him, his natural sadness of expression deepened, his head bent forward, and his eyes cast to the ground.

“In this attitude he stood for a few seconds, silent, as if communing with his own thoughts; and when he began to speak, and throughout his entire address, his manner indicated no consciousness of the presence of tens of thousands hanging on his lips, but rather of one who, like the prophet of old, was overmastered by some unseen spirit of the scene, and passively gave utterance to the memories, the feelings, the counsels and the prophecies with which he was inspired.


US #2975t from the 1995 Civil War sheet.

“…There was such evidence of wisdom and purity and benevolence and moral grandeur, higher and beyond the reach of ordinary men, that the great assembly listened almost awe-struck as to a voice from the divine oracle.”


At the time, the President’s main concern was maintaining the support of the Union in the war effort. His two-minute speech captivated the crowd of about 15,000.

Lincoln reminded listeners of the nation’s past, acknowledged the present struggle to preserve the Union, and gave hope for the future. His opening, “Four score and seven years ago,” referred to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which stated the equality of all men, and their inalienable rights.

Item #CNPR09 – Lincoln Silver Proof Dollar with an excerpt from Gettysburg Address on the back.

Lincoln honored the soldiers who “here gave their lives that the nation might live,” and encouraged those who remained to be “dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.” He looked to the future when the nation would have “a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The speech was met with silence, which Lincoln interpreted as failure. To the contrary, the audience was in awe at the words he had spoken. President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address has since become one of the most famous speeches in America’s history.

Click here to read the full text of the Gettysburg Address.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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  1. Wonderfully written. I can still remember having to memorize the Gettysburg Address when
    I was in the 7th grade @ 1950 along with the rest of the class and having to give the speech in
    front of the class. What great memorise!

  2. Wonderfully written. It brought back memories of when I was in the 7th grade our class
    had to memorise this speech and read it in front of the class. A trip to Gettysburg was one of
    my first vacations. Great memorise!

  3. To which “God” is this referring–the God of the Bible who revealed Himself in the person and work of the historic Jesus Christ, or a generic “God” that refers to any supreme being that one chooses? Since secular government may not endorse any particular religion (with which I unequivocally agree) then by default that “God” must be a generic god which then becomes the god of civic religion. And that’s something that avowed Christians can not confess without compromising the belief that the God of the Bible is the only true God. Bottom line–being the devout Christian that I am, well, I go silent at that part of the pledge so as to not confess something that my heart does agree with or believe.

    1. BTW, I believe that a critical study of history will show that the founding fathers (whether or not they were avowed Christians) held the God of the Bible to be the true God. That sounds somewhat oxymoronic until we realize that what they really opposed was establishing any particular religion or god as the official state religion or god.

  4. I agree with Dave B that Lincoln was our greatest President. And I often wonder if he would have been elected in modern times. Would voters hear the wisdom of his spoken word and see the sincerity in his delivery? Or would they instead elect someone who did not possess those qualities but was more photogenic? Perhaps electing someone who had more financial backing by self serving special interest groups and therefore spent more on their campaign. One can only hope that if such a great individual steps forward to lead this nation we make the right choice.

  5. Are replies only for men? Or only religious men? I submitted a comment about this date and do not see it here. The important part of politics of that era and the war was that they saw the nation as indivisible, which is what I posted.

    I’ve learned much from these emails but never commented, as far as I recall. So, again, I ask, is this only for some people?

    1. All voices are welcome here. We do curate the comments to avoid advertisements, spam, and inappropriate content. So there may sometimes be a slight delay in publishing comments. Thank you for joining the group. 🙂

  6. I have read that following the speech, Edward Everett commented that President Lincoln said more in this short speech than he (Everett) did in his two hour speech.

  7. Lincoln was no scholar in the conventional sense of the word. He was truly a self-made man. But he could read, and think, and boy-oh-boy could he write. He did not like to speak extemporaneously (he would be terrible on twitter), so he took his time and prepared. His first Inaugural Address, the Gettysburg Address, and his Second Inaugural address are worth while to read and read again.

  8. I agree with BTW, that the Founding Fathers of what became the United States of America, were referring to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob –
    Yahwe to the Israelites. The God who sent his only begotten son Jesus Christ to save us. Lincoln is by far one of the greatest presidents the U.S.A has ever had. I like to add Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a top president, being that he carried the nation thru a world conflict: WWII. Lincoln was the only president that single single handedly carried the nation thru a national conflict: The Civil War, the U.S’s greatest single catastrophe. He also spent a considerable time searching for the person responsible for the death of his mother. A death he believed was caused by: Milk Disease, or being bitten by a ‘Vampire’.

  9. Fortunately Lincoln was the right man atbthevright time. Unfortunately he was assassinated by a misguided miserable lunatic. However, in his time as president, he was the best man to ever hold the office. There will never be another so great. The times of then and now are utterly incomparable, and ultimately the country is on course for another civil war. There will not be an ‘Abraham Lincoln’ this time however.

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