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Abraham Lincoln
Gettysburg Address
Battle of Gettysburg

Who was involved in creating the Gettysburg Address?


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September 23, 2009 12:24AM

There are two key aspects to the Gettysburg Address:

1. The principal address was given by Edward Everett. It is some 13,600 words long, and it took him two hours to give it.

2. After Everett spoke, President Lincoln gave a short address which was only about ten sentences and was delivered in about two minutes. Although much shorter, it is Lincoln's outstanding concluding speech that is more frequently referred to as the 'Gettysburg address.'

Everett wrote his own words, and Lincoln wrote his. However, analysis of the texts, particularly of Lincoln's, indicates that, in part, both drew upon familiar ancient texts and literary styles.

Obviously the American Civil War provided the primary motivation and inspiration for the address. Then unfolding circumstances led to the creation and delivery of the speeches on that day. Every speech needs an audience. The addresses were prepared with the needs of that audience firmly in mind. To that extent, it can be said that the audience themselves, including supporting dignitaries and functionaries, were as much a part of the 'creation' of the Gettysburg address as those involved in its presentation.

List of those 'involved' in the Gettysburg Address:

  1. Abraham Lincoln: He gave his short address as the final speech at the opening and dedication of the new Soldier's National Cemetery on Nov 19, 1863.
  2. Edward Everett: the person originally chosen to make the speech at the opening ceremony. But he asked for more time to prepare a good speech. The organizing committee agreed to this, and about two weeks or so before the event President Lincoln was also invited to attend and to say a few words to those present.
  3. David Wills: He set the wheels in motion for this local cemetery to be state funded, and was key organizer of the events of the day. He was also Lincoln's host after Lincoln arrived in Gettysburg the day before the opening ceremony. Consequently Lincoln stayed the night as a guest at Wills' house in Gettysburg Square that night. Doubtless Lincoln and Wills would have discussed important issues together.
  4. William H. Seward (Secretary of State) and Salmon P. Chase (Secretary of the Treasury) flanked Lincoln as he rode on horseback to the cemetery.
  5. Numerous dignitaries, townspeople, and widows joined the procession.
  6. Many state Governors supported Lincoln, and six of them attended:-
  • Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin of Pennsylvania, who was also very much involved in organizing military matters in the American civil war that was still raging at that time. Curtin was also played a major part in founding the cemetery.
  • Gov. Augustus Bradford of Maryland,
  • Gov. Oliver P. Morton of Indiana
  • Gov. Horatio Seymour of New York
  • Gov. Joel Parker of New Jersey
  • Gov. David Tod of Ohio

Also in attendance:

  • William McDougall, Canadian politician.
  • Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln's bodyguard, was close at hand throughout, and stood beside Lincoln as he gave his address.
  • About fifteen thousand locals and supporters who were in the audience.
Involved in the organizational side, under David Will's oversight, were
  • Birgfield's Band, and the Marine Band, and a choir, providing music
  • B.B. French, writer of the special dedication hymnsong.
  • Reverend T.H. Stockton, D.D and Reverend H.L. Baugher, D.D. who offered the prayers at the dedication.

Key Dates
The Gettysburg cemetery blessing ceremony was originally scheduled for October 23. and, on October 10th, renowned public speaker Edward Everett was invited by the organizing committee to give the main speech. However, Everett asked them for more time to write and compose his oratory. The committee agreed and subsequently rescheduled it for another day, November 19th, almost a month later than the original date. Thus Everett had a total of forty days to prepare his script.

On November 2nd, after the original date for the ceremony had come and gone, and in the light of 'anti-war-effort' sentiments now arising, it seemed opportune to the committee to invite the President of the Union, Abraham Lincoln, to make, after Everett's speech, a brief few words to the people who would gather at the cemetery. Lincoln accepted, and travelled by train to Gettysburg, arriving the day before the event. Overall, Lincoln had just seventeen days, while the civil war was still being fought, to prepare his speech.

EDWARD EVERETT --the part he played in the creation of the Gettysburg Address
Edward Everett Ph.D. gave the main oratory at the Gettysburg Address. His speech is known as the Gettysburg Oration. Being an academic, educationalist and theologian, Everett reminded his listeners of the relevance and significance of historic precedents, and of the hand of 'Providence' in the current state of affairs: " .... that gracious Providence which overrules all things for the best, ..."

Taking 'providence' into account, it seems appropriate to consider that, if Everett had actually accepted the first date proposed for the cemetery dedication ceremony, it is highly unlikely that the committee would have actually invited President Lincoln to also attend and to say a few words! And, had they not invited him, he would never have written and delivered what has come to be one of the most famous speeches of all time!

In other words, by the mere fact of his asking for more time, Everett actually played a not insignificant part in the chain of events which led to Abraham Lincoln writing and delivering his history-changing 'freedom and equality' speech at the Gettysburg Address!

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