The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

The Real Gettysburg Address

On November 19, 1863, when Abraham Lincoln spoke to an immense crowd at the consecration of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Edward Everett of Massachusetts, the greatest orator of the day, was the primary speaker.  In his diary, Everett omitted any reference to the president’s remarks except for his praise of Everett’s speech.  The next day, however, after they had returned to Washington together, Everett and Lincoln exchanged letters concerning their respective addresses:

I should be glad [Everett wrote to Lincoln], 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 replied the same day:

In our respective parts yesterday, you could not have been excused to make  a short address, nor I a long one.  I am pleased to know that, in your judgment, the little I did say was not entirely a failure.

On Tuesday, 19 November, the Historical Society will mark the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address by displaying this extraordinary exchange of letters—and other materials related to the respective roles of Lincoln and Everett that day at Gettysburg—from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM.

 Come and help us decide what was the “real” Gettysburg Address.

permalink | Published: Monday, 18 November, 2013, 10:00 AM


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