When people look at Abraham Lincoln’s greatest speeches, The Gettysburg Address is considered one of the best. Considered an afterthought at the time, Lincoln was invited to speak at the dedication of the Gettysburg Cemetery and was picked to speak alongside Edward Everett. Everett spoke for over 2 hours before Lincoln spoke for 2 minutes. Lincoln considered his address a failure. However, it is considered by historians to be one of the most famous speeches of all time. A handwritten copy of the speech will be featured at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum for the next two weeks through December 2nd.
There are only five surviving copies of the speech. This one stays in a climate-controlled vault to protect it from light and humidity. Dr. Samuel Wheeler, who is an Illinois State Historian says that the speech is a tangible connection to President Lincoln and the turmoil of the Civil War. “We look at his handwriting on this plain, white paper, and imagine him searching for just the right words for a nation torn in two.
The Abraham Lincoln library holds over 12 million items pertaining to all aspects of Illinois history. For more information visit the President Lincoln website here.