The Gettysburg Address, 149 years ago today

149 years ago today, President Abraham Lincoln delivered a two-minute address at the dedication of a military cemetery on the Gettysburg battlefield.

Four score 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.

Humbling, I hope. So, enough carping about the “fiscal cliff,” right? We’ve overcome bigger hurdles than this; let’s get on with it.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood


    What a mind that man had.

    270 words +/-.

    Written on the train on the way to deliver the address.


  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Abe forgot to bring his laptop with him.

  • Ken

    Two nations might have lived, and millions might have lived, if he hadn’t been such a tyrant in the first place. But hey, one nation, conceived in countless deaths, makes for a better speech.

  • John W

    Lincoln wasn’t even the featured speaker. That was the orator Edward Everett, whose speech preceded Lincoln and lasted two hours.

    Can’t wait to see the movie, “Lincoln.”

  • Elwood

    “Can’t wait to see the movie, “Lincoln.”

    It’s been panned by some critics. One said Lewis gives Lincoln the voice of a teenage boy. Another says his performance is more wooden than Washington’s teeth.

  • John W

    After reading Team of Rivals, I wouldn’t miss it. It’s not a Bond flick! More like a docu-drama about the 13th Amendment and the political skills that enabled Lincoln to be a successful leader.

    According to Doris Kearns-Goodwin, Lincoln did in fact have a high pitched voice. DDL has a deep natural voice but changed it to be Lincoln. Hard to imagine DDL giving a “wooden” performance, but we’ll see. In those days, before they invented microphones and sound systems, Lincoln’s voice actually allowed him to project his voice better; or so says Doris Kearns Goodwin.

    Tommy Lee Jones (Al Gore’s Harvard dorm mate) is supposed to be spectacular in his role as Thaddeus Stevens.

  • Steve Weir

    Goodwin’s Team of Rivals was so inspiring, I read her book Wait Till Next Year , a biography of her love of Baseball (Brooklyn Dodgers) and her association with her Dad over baseball.

    Team of Rivals is one of the best books I have ever read.

  • DanvilleDemocrat

    Don’t listen to the nay-saying critics, Elwood! “Lincoln” is quite excellent, and Daniel Day-Lewis does a fine job — worthy of an Oscar for which he’ll surely at least earn a nomination.

  • Noah

    Lincoln didn’t write it on the train. That’s a myth. He started writing it at the White House before leaving for Gettysburg and finished it at the Wills house where he was staying in Gettysburg.

  • Bo

    “Humbling, I hope. So, enough carping about the “fiscal cliff,” right? We’ve overcome bigger hurdles than this; let’s get on with it.”

    Absolutely right +1.

    I say we SHOULD go over the “fiscal cliff”, take the medicine now to forestall a Greek-like demise of our economy. The term “Fiscal cliff” is terribly perjorative, and the media and politicos should be ashamed for whipping up all the FUD (fear, uncetainty and doubt). It won’t be a cliff, just a slight dip near-term but far better than continuing with Obama’s reckless spending and mounting deficits. And don’t get me started with that “(wealthy) should pay their fair share” nonsense – when are the middle+lower – class folks who get 98% of the benefits of my huge tax payments going to stand up and pay their fair share?