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Constitutional Calendar

November 19: The Gettysburg Address

With the iconic words “Four score and seven years ago…” President Abraham Lincoln began his 1863 Gettysburg Address. He gave this speech at the Gettysburg battlefield, which had witnessed a climactic Union victory in July of the same year. Lincoln spoke for less than two minutes after Edward Everett’s two-hour speech, but the Gettysburg Address still stands as one of America’s most famous orations. Lincoln declared that the nation was “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal,” and vowed that “this nation…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.” In this way, he established that the Civil War as a battle not only for the preservation of the Union, but more broadly for equality among men and the future of republican government.

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