|Gettysburg Address (November 19, 1863).Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address during a dedication ceremony at the Union cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, just over three months after the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg. It caught the essence of his presidency and the meaning and stakes of the American Civil War, and it pointed to the path American history in many ways did actually tread in subsequent decades. He said: “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 battlefield 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 the 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.”|
|Gettysburg, Battle of (July 1–3, 1863). One of the decisive battles of the American Civil War, fought in and around a small Pennsylvania crossroads town during Robert E. Lee’s second invasion of the North. The Union Army |
under George Meade barely held off Lee’s Confederates on the first and second days. The third day saw the pathos of Pickett’s Charge, in which an entire Confederate corps was cut to pieces inside an hour. Union forces were too exhausted to follow-up, and Lee withdrew. News of the Union victory at Gettysburg was followed by word from the West that Ulysses S. Grant had taken Vicksburg. That finished Southern hopes that a great military victory might bring about European diplomatic intervention, and in that sense these two battles together decided the outcome of the war. Lee never again invaded the North, and the South thereafter went over to the defensive and ultimately lost. See also Gettysburg Address; Abraham Lincoln.