Fourscore and a good number of years ago in early July of 1863, the Confederate Army led by General Robert E. Lee had pushed their way into the state of Pennsylvania to a town known as Gettysburg. They entered into the North in hopes of winning the American Civil War, but the tide turned. The Battle of Gettysburg was the turning point of the war, and the Confederate Army was forced to retreat back to the South and, years later, to their surrender.
On November 19, 1893, President Abraham Lincoln arrived in Gettysburg to dedicate the National Cemetery. It was at this very ceremony where he gave his famous speech known as ‘The Gettysburg Address’. It is considered to be one of the greatest speeches in history. Although it mentions about what happened in Gettysburg months earlier, there is a story behind the speech on how it was delivered.
If you are wondering if the speech was delivered by the railroad, you are absolutely right. This speech was delivered by the railroad. The ride began in Washington D.C. It went north through Baltimore, and he continued into Pennsylvania all the way to Hanover Junction. (The tracks between the state line and Hanover Junction remains and can be ridden by the ‘Steam Into History’ excursion train.) While at Hanover Junction, he switched trains, and he rode the line to Gettysburg. (Only a small section of the spur exists today. The rest of the tracks between here and Hanover were taken up.) Abraham Lincoln arrived in Gettysburg by train at what is now called the Lincoln Train Station. (It is a museum today.) From there he stayed at the home of David Wills to prepare his speech, and the next day, the speech was made.
Whether you are in your American History class of if you are visiting the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania of even if you visit the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., you can see the words of the Gettysburg Address:
(Copied from Wikipedia)
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
The next time you hear or read these words, remember that these words were delivered by a man who rode to train to Gettysburg.