The Only Photo of Lincoln at Gettysburg?
This photo (cropped, the full version is below) found in the National Archives in 1952 by Josephine Cobb, the chief of the Still Photo divison, is believed to be the only photograph of President Abraham Lincoln in Gettysburg, where he later gave his Gettysburg Address - arguably the most famous speech by a President of the United States - on this day in 1863. It was taken by Matthew Brady, the famed Civil War photographer.
Lincoln, who made the trip from Washington to speak at the dedication of a National Cemetery in the Pennsylvania town, site of the bloodiest and most momentous conflict of the Civil War. Over a three day period, from July 1 to July 3, 1863, some 46,286 Union and Confederate troops would be killed, wounded or go missing. The battle stopped the advance of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and marked the turning point of the war.
In Lincoln's characteristic eloquence and brevity, he explained why the war was being waged. He emphasized the principles of human equality and said the Union would be preserved with "a new birth of freedom."
"Four score and seven years ago," Lincoln began, referring to the 87 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed during the Revolutionary War, "our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
The President continued:
"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and dedicated, can long endure. We are met on the 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."
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