On 19 November 1863, the national cemetery was dedicated at Gettysburg. Edward Everett of Massachusetts, the greatest orator of the day, was the primary speaker. The next day, Everett and Lincoln exchanged letters concerning their respective roles in the ceremony. Everett wrote to Lincoln,
I should be glad, if I could flatter myself, that I came near as to te 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.
Provenance: Gift of the heirs of Edward Everett, 1930.