November 19, 1863

At the dedication of the new national cemetary at Gettysburg, four months after the battle there, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address. The bloodiest battle of the Civil War, Gettysburg had taken 46,000 casualties between the Union and Confederacy. Lincoln honored the fallen dead and linked their sacrifice to the survival of a nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” “We cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground,” Lincoln told the gathered crowd. “The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract,” Lincoln said. He closed his 272-word address by declaring “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.”

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