Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Lincoln's Gettysburg Remarks: Reread Them Today

November 19 is the 147th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's delivery of his remarks at Gettysburg. After Edward Everett, the featured speaker, had spoken for two hours giving his Gettysburg Address, the attendees were pleased but understandably tired. The President got up and read his speech, not even 300 hundred words, which did not impress many at the time. According to Garry Wills, author of Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America (1992), Lincoln created an "intellectual revolution" with his speech at Gettysburg. The media did cover them, but how would it have analyzed them, had CNN, Fox, MSNBC and a 24/7 news cycle been around then?

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 here, 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 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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