Handwritten Gettysburg Address Goes On Display At Lincoln Museum
Almost 156 years ago on November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered one of history's most famous speeches.
Lincoln wasn't even the keynote speaker for the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery on that day. Famous orator of the time, Edward Everett, went on and on for nearly two hours before Lincoln took the stage.
When it was President Lincoln's turn, his 272-word speech took only about 2 minutes from start to finish. Which, as it turned out, was more than enough time to make history.
Everett later wrote to Lincoln that the President had accomplished in two minutes something that Everett couldn't do in two hours.
There are just 5 surviving handwritten copies of the Gettysburg Address, and one of them is going on display starting today at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. The display will go on for the next two weeks, ending on December 2nd.
The handwritten copy will be displayed in the museum’s Treasures Gallery from Nov. 14 through Dec. 2. The anniversary of the speech is Tuesday, Nov. 19.
The document – one of just five surviving copies written by Lincoln – stays in a climate-controlled vault most of the time to protect it from light and humidity. The display in the museum’s Treasures Gallery offers visitors a rare chance to see the paper where Lincoln wrote “Four score and seven years ago …”
“This document is a tangible connection to President Lincoln and the turmoil of the Civil War. We look at his handwriting on this plain, white paper and imagine him searching for just the right words for a nation torn in two,” said Dr. Samuel Wheeler, the Illinois state historian. “Everyone should take the opportunity to see this piece of history with their own eyes.”