«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».
On November 19, 1863, 87 years after the Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln used these words to open the Gettysburg Address, one of the most famous speeches in American history.
The Civil War was underway and, right in that place some months before, one of the most significant battles of the conflict had been fought and had ended with the victory of the Federal army. The President’s visit had been organized to dedicate the National Cemetery to the soldiers killed in that battle. The outcome of the fight turned out crucial for the victory of the abolitionist Unionists against the Southern secessionists, that opposed the abolition of slavery.
In less than 300 words, Lincoln succeeded in making his address go down in history and in conveying both what he conceived as the meaning of the Union’s commitment in that conflict and the fundamental values of the United States.
Indeed, the President finished his speech as follows: «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».
As a matter of fact, different versions of the address exist and there is uncertainty about which one is the authentic copy; however, the deep meaning of Lincoln’s words is the same and they remain a milestone in American history.