One of the most well-known speeches in American history is the Gettysburg Address. In just 272 words, Abraham Lincoln was able to portray such a deep and moving message that has stayed instilled in the country until this very day. Many people believe the Gettysburg Address to be a stroke of genius, while still others thought it to be disgraceful and almost illogical. The question is, which side was Abraham Lincoln on?
Lincoln is considered by many to have been one of the smartest presidents the United States has had. Naturally on would think that Lincoln thought the same about himself. However, even concerning this ingenious speech, Lincoln second-guessed himself. Due to the divided view on his speech at the time, Lincoln himself considered the speech to be a failure.In fact, he never stopped editing the speech, even after he had delivered it.
There are five know copies of the Gettysburg Address that are handwritten by President Lincoln, and no two are exactly the same. The Nicolay copy, named for Lincoln’s secretary is considered to be the first copy of the speech and is the shortest at only 238 words. The second draft of the speech, or the Hay copy, named for a White House assistant, is 267 words. Edward Everett, the main speaker at Gettysburg also asked Lincoln for a copy of his speech, the copy in which Lincoln sent Everett is very similar to what is considered the actual speech, standing at 271 words. The last 2 copies are very unique given the fact that they both were sent to the same person. George Bancroft requested a copy of the speech so that he could reprint it and give it to the soldiers to read, and so Lincoln sent him what is know as the Bancroft copy and is the exact length of what we consider to be the Gettysburg Address at 272 words. However, the paper was unable to be reprinted, so Lincoln sent another copy by request of Bancroft’s nephew, Alexander Bliss. The Bliss copy is the most unique out of the five, because not only is it the latest and longest know copy, at 278 words, but it is also the only one to be signed and dated by Abraham Lincoln. This is the copy that is most used when reproducing the speech.
Lincoln did not always recognize the genius he was, and this shows through his constant editing of America’s most famous speech. He was constantly working to improve what he did and what he stood for. All he wanted was for his work to properly embody the nation. Little did he know that it would also make him one of the most famous Americans ever.
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