The Gettysburg Addresses

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.

Works Cited

Link to Wordle at top

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          alt="Wordle: Gettysburg Address"
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17 thoughts on “The Gettysburg Addresses

  1. I think it is great that Abraham Lincoln second-guessed himself as he is only human. Despite all of the brilliance he showed over the war he was still a human with flaws. His changing of his speech and his continuous attempts to improve it show how even the highest of the country still search for perfection in what they do, just like us.

  2. I had actually never know that so many drafts of the speech existed. I think that the fact that Lincoln revised the speech so many times alone reveals what kind of a man he was; I agree with what Michael said about how his perfectionism can reflect our nation to date, or at least the desire to be perfect.

  3. Honestly, I really never much about the Gettysburg Address. Let alone the 5 other copies Abraham Lincoln made. I like how you mentioned in your post how Abraham Lincoln’s speech was considered foolish in 1863 but is now considered a masterpiece.because I didn’t really know that!

  4. I like how Lincoln thought the speech was such a failure even though it was possibly the best speech in American history. I also liked how he kept editing it even after he delivered it and I think that shows that he thought he could have done a better job and I think that shows just how much a genius he was.

  5. It is surprising that the Gettysburg Address, which is know a very well-known speech, was originally considered to be a failure by Lincoln. He was able to give a message to the country in two short minutes. This was an unusually short speech for the time, since, for example, the speaker before Lincoln gave a speech that was nearly two hours long. Also, with all of the conflicting views held by Americans at the time, it must have been difficult to try to write a speech that would not anger lots of people. This may have been a reason to why he had to make several revisions to it.

  6. It is surprising that the Gettysburg Address, which is now a very well-known speech, was originally considered to be a failure by Lincoln. He was able to give a message to the country in two short minutes. This was an unusually short speech for the time, since, for example, the speaker before Lincoln gave a speech that was nearly two hours long. Also, with all of the conflicting views held by Americans at the time, it must have been difficult to try to write a speech that would not anger lots of people. This may have been a reason to why he had to make several revisions to it.

  7. I think it is interesting that Lincoln worried about and was unsatisfied with his speech when most people who heard it thought it was genius. It seems he was a bit consumed by trying to write the perfect speech since he rewrote it several times, even after he gave the speech. I like the research you did in the blog and I think it’s eye-opening to what Lincoln was thinking at the time.

  8. I looked up the Gettysburg address wordle. The words that are on there area actually really interesting, and represent the speech quite well. It’s interesting how he used the word nation the most, considering that the actual “nation” was not considered a nation by a good percentage of it’s people, and was going through the Civil War. It was almost as though he was using that word to conjoin the two, which would send a message home. Your research was very interesting. I would have never guessed Lincoln was often unsatisfied with his work.

  9. I think that it is really cool that Lincoln had five drafts of the Gettysburg Address. I haven’t really learned too much about the speech before and it is still funny how at just 278 words it still had so much impact. What I find even more interesting is how Lincoln thought the speech was a failure, but it is usually considered one of the more important speeches in American history today. I always find it interesting when things work out so much differently than expected in history.

  10. I think this is interesting from a commitment standpoint. I would probably get struck by lightning before i would edit a paper that was already submitted, that would require true interest in the topic at hand. Okay, i know the analogy is terrible because anything written for school is inherently meaningless crap. but the point still stands.

  11. I think that the reason why Lincoln was so conscious of his speech was the fact that he was a President, and as such, he was expected to give long, inspirational and impact-making speeches. When he delivered his two minute address, and was then eclipsed by Edward Everett’s two hour monster of a speech, I think that Lincoln felt like he hadn’t lived up to the expectations and therefore failed his people in a way. This lead to his insecurity over the address and the subsequent versions that appeared after. This post was very intriguing and I had certainly not heard of this before.

  12. This gives me a new perspective on Lincoln. I would have assumed that he made a few drafts before finishing a speech, but the fact that he rewrote it nearly every time a new copy was made strikes me as odd. I like your point that he was self-conscious. Other comments say that it was due to the pressure of presidency and the high expectations for his speeches that he wrote so many drafts, and that makes sense, but I would rather imagine him just worrying about the impression he made on the people who had witnessed the tragedy of the Battle at Gettysburg. Perhaps he was trying to say whatever he could to let the soldiers know that the deaths were not in vain. He could have been speaking for the dead or the living, but I don’t think he would ever have thought this little speech would be so well-known even today, a century and a half later.

  13. To expand on Lincoln’s doubts about the quality of his speech, he says in his speech “the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here” when his speech is one of the best-known in history. Additionally, I learned from the excerpt of Ken Burns’ Civil war documentary that after giving his speech, he sat down and turned to the person next to him and said something to the effect of “that was terrible.”

    I agree with Stoyan that Lincoln probably felt that, as President, he was expected to give a long speech. A photographer at the address, expecting a long speech from Lincoln, took his time setting up his camera, and by the time he took the picture, Lincoln had already gotten off the podium.

    Link to picture referenced –

  14. The fact that he drafted so many different addresses, but all of them under 300 words, really speaks to how the land dedicated itself. Lincoln knew how moving it would be just to stand out in that field where thousands of men would be laid to rest, and he was probably worried that saying too much would take away from the awe that the land itself inspired.

  15. I didn’t know that Lincoln had written so many copies of the Address. I read it and I think that it was very moving because it was short and sweet. It was for the common man, and it wasn’t uber-baroque to point that no one could understand it unless they were well-educated.The fact that everyone was able to appreciate this speech was what made it so special.

  16. I don’t really find the fact that Lincoln rewrote the Gettysburg Address multiple times to be that surprising. The people who are known as geniuses are often called that because they continue to make even greater inventions, works of art, or, in this case, speeches, as time goes by. Not one of them was ever completely satisfied with what they put out for the public, they look at their works, find flaws in them, and know how to make the next one even better.

  17. I think that it’s surprising that Lincoln would rewrite his speech so many times, and that he was so dissatisfied with both the speech and himself. Even though it’s so famous today, the fact that he worked on it so much proves how dedicated he was to his position.

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