Battle of Gettysburg Address

Article excerpt

Six score and 11 years ago, Abraham Lincoln produced five handwritten copies of his Gettysburg Address. Now one of those documents is the subject of a tug-of-war between the nation's premier library and the National Park Service, with Congress cast as referee.

Lincoln wrote the brief address for a cemetery dedication on Nov. 19, 1863, honoring those who had died at the battle of Gettysburg in July 1863.

Although Lincoln was not the featured speaker that day - the crowd came to hear noted orator Edward Everett - the address came to be regarded as one of the most eloquent ever delivered by an American president.

Historians believe that Lincoln began composing the original draft of the speech in Washington and finished it after arriving in Gettysburg, Pa. A second draft is believed to have been written by Lincoln when he returned to Washington after the dedication. Both of these drafts were donated to the Library of Congress in 1916.

There are three other versions of the speech written in Lincoln's hand. One is on view at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. …