November 19, 1863, President Lincoln delivered one of the most iconic speeches during the formal dedication of Gettysburg national cemetery for the fallen soldiers who died in battle. In attendance is Secretary Seward, Hon. Edward Everett, various state governors, and close to 130,000 people.
In his dedication speech, President Lincoln identifies a few principles: a government by consent by the people rather than through the use of force; equality among all people, for “all men are created equal”; liberty for all and the unity of the nation that it may endure the test of time, and the preservation of the Union.
Most importantly, he speaks elaborately on the significance of the Gettysburg battlefield, expressing gratitude to the deceased soldiers whose war efforts helped turn the tides of the civil war, effectively putting an end to the invasion of the North by Confederate General Robert Lee.
President Lincoln further reiterates the importance of carrying on with the unfinished work that the soldiers so nobly did, as a way to honor their undying devotion, “that the dead shall not have died in vain.”
The Gettysburg speech also acknowledges the presence of government leaders like Governor Andrew Curtin, several groups of individuals, and Union troops.
The theme of President Lincoln’s speech is the preservation of the nation that the country’s founders envisioned while remembering the sacrifices and war efforts of soldiers that died at Gettysburg.
In this short but moving speech, Lincoln reminds an already war-weary public why the war was necessary to protect America’s democracy. The bloody civil war battle at Gettysburg saw the death, injury, capture, and disappearance of more than 45,000 men in just three days.