The camera on the iPhone 6 sucks.....
This picture was taken November 19, 1863 in the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg.
Just four and a half months earlier, one the the greatest battles of the American Civil War, and the one that is considered the turning point in the war, was fought.
72,000 Confederate soldiers were met by 93,000 Union troops, and over three intense days of fighting, 50,000 troops were killed or wounded.
On November 19, 1863, President Lincoln traveled by train to Gettysburg to dedicate the soldiers cemetery. And for that dedication, he needed a speech.
Most Americans can recite at least the opening line to the Gettysburg Address. And, in school, we were all taught how Lincoln wrote the speech on the back of an envelope on the train while on the way to Gettysburg.
Well, too bad that's not how it happened. These anecdotal stories are never true, are they?
Lincoln was known to have spent a lot of time on this speech. He knew it was for a very solemn occasion, marking one of the darkest times in American history. He also knew his speech was for history, not just his contemporaries.
The copy of the speech Lincoln read from at Gettysburg is lost. it is known he was editing it up to the last minute. He really wanted this speech to be perfect.
Fortunately, he had time. See, the featured speaker at Gettysburg was not President Lincoln. He was there to dedicate the cemetery to the fallen.
The main feature of the day, and what was originally supposed to be the Gettysburg Address, was an oration given by Edward Everett.
Everett was, at the time, a senator from Massachusetts. But he was the most popular orator for the union during the war. (instead of watching the news for editorial opinions, people gathered and listened to orators)
And, he was good. Once you got him started, it was tough to make him stop.
At Gettysburg, Everett spoke for two hours. His speech was 13,000 words long.
He was followed up by Lincoln who spoke just ten sentences that took two minutes.
But, it is Lincoln's speech we remember because of the power it had. It wasn't long, but it touched the public.
Lincoln gave his two secretaries a draft of the speech. These are the only original copies known. Three other copies written in Lincoln's hand do exist, but they were written after the speech was given for charitable reasons. (auctioned off to raise money for the war)
Lincoln's Gettysburg Address has influenced many other historical texts as well. In 1963, standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King jr gave his famous 'I have a dream' speech. But he started it with the line, "Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation.", emulating Lincoln's opening line.
The constitution of France contains the line, "gouvernement du peuple, par le peuple et pour le peuple". (government of the people, by the people, for the people). This is taken right from the address.
Also, as a bonus tidbit, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation didn't free a single slave. It freed the slaves in the south, but the south had seceded, so Lincoln had no authority there. (until union troops occupied the territory, that is). As for slaves in the north, none of them were freed. (yes, it was legal to own slaves in the north. It just wasn't anywhere near as common as n the south. But it was legal). Slavery wasn't abolished until 1865 and the ratification of the 13th amendment.
History. It ain't always what you think it is.