In the speech now known as the Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln delivered a reminder of the nation's origins, emphasizing the stakes at risk by the Civil War, and provided a call to action for the preservation of the nation and the ideals of liberty and equality. The Gettysburg Address was a speech given at the Nov. 19, 1863, dedication of the Soldier’s National Cemetery in honor of the fallen Union soldiers.
Gettysburg, Penn., was the site of a three-day battle in July 1863 between Union and Confederate soldiers. The battle was a turning point in the Civil War because Robert E. Lee's invasion of the north was stopped. More than 7,500 men were killed in the bloody battle.
The opening of Lincoln's speech reminds listeners about the country's birth 87 years earlier ("four score and seven years ago"). His words point out that the Civil War was testing whether the United States' foundations of liberty and equality were strong enough to survive. His address poignantly points out that the cemetery ground already had been dedicated and consecrated by the soldiers whose blood was spilled during battle. The speech ends as both a call to action and a justification for continuing the war for the sake of all the fallen soldiers who had given their lives for national unity and for liberty.
Lincoln's speech numbered only 272 words and lasted about two minutes. The speaker before him, Edward Everett, orated for more than two hours.