Lincoln Library to display original copy of Gettysburg Address

SPRINGFIELD — A copy of the Gettysburg Address written by Abraham Lincoln himself will be displayed this month at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum to mark the anniversary of the famous speech.

The document – one of just five surviving copies written by Lincoln – will be in the museum’s Treasures Gallery from Nov. 13 to Nov. 26.

“The Gettysburg Address expressed what the Civil War was really about and, therefore, what America is all about: ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people,’” said Alan Lowe, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. “A handwritten copy of that speech is a physical link to that key moment in history. We’re proud to offer everyone a chance to see it for themselves.”

The display of this historic document is only part of the Lincoln Presidential Library plans to celebrate the anniversary of the brief but historic speech, which was delivered on Nov. 19, 1863.

On Saturday, Nov. 18, the 33rd Illinois Volunteer Regiment Band will perform in the museum’s main plaza at 11 a.m. On both Saturday and Sunday, the actual anniversary of the speech, historic interpreters will portray Civil War soldiers for museum visitors.

Lincoln delivered the speech at the dedication of a cemetery for soldiers killed in the Battle of Gettysburg.

He said the fallen soldiers had already consecrated the site “far above our poor power to add or detract.” It was now the duty of the living, he said, to seek “a new birth of freedom.”

After the speech, Lincoln wrote out several copies. One was given to a group that sold it to raise money for the benefit of wounded soldiers. Four score years later, it was for sale again and Illinois schoolchildren donated pennies and nickels so the state could buy the document. That copy of the address is the one now housed at the presidential library.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is dedicated to telling the story of America’s 16th president through old-fashioned scholarship and modern technology. It also serves as the state historical library.

The library holds an unparalleled collection of Lincoln material, as well as some 12 million items pertaining to other aspects of Illinois history. Meanwhile, the museum uses traditional exhibits, eye-catching special effects and innovative story-telling techniques to educate visitors.

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–Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

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