Gettysburg Address

Given on November 19, 1863, at the dedication of a national Civil War cemetery on the site of a hard-fought Union victory, Lincoln’s speech stressed the Declaration’s promise of liberty and urged the continued struggle to secure it. The Bliss copy (featured here) was the fifth and final draft of the Gettysburg Address. It is the only one with Lincoln’s signature and has become the standard version.
Abraham Lincoln
Grade Level

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 battle-field 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 can not dedicate--we can not consecrate-- we can not 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 her, 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 in 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.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863
This text is in the public domain.
Text Dependent Questions
  1. Question
    What happened "four score and seven years ago?"
    "Our father" established a "new nation."
  2. Question
    What is happening at the time of Lincoln's speech?
    At the time of the speech, the nation is involved in the Civil War.
    (Note: Students may be able to identify the "fathers" in this first sentence as the Founding Fathers and this new nation as being based on the Declaration of Independence, but that information cannot be derived solely from the text.)
  3. Question
    Reread the second paragraph.
    For what purpose have they "met on a great battle-field?"
    To dedicate part of the battlefield as a burial site for those who have died in the war.
  4. Question
    What reason does Lincoln give for wanting to do this?
    He believes it to be "fitting and proper" because they gave away their lives so "that nation might live."
  5. Question
    Reread the third paragraph.
    What is the purpose of starting the third paragraph with "but"?
    This connects back to the previous sentence and negates it. What they came to do is not possible.
  6. Question
    To "consecrate" means to make or declare something sacred. Why can those gathered at Lincoln's speech not consecrate the battlefield?
    Because the "brave men" who fought and died there already consecrated it through their actions.
  7. Question
    What three things does Lincoln charge his listeners with doing?
    1. To be increasingly dedicated to the dead's cause (winning the war)
    2. To ensure that the dead did not die in vain
    3. To ensure that this kind of government, of the people, by the people, for the people, "shall not perish"
Reveal Answers
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