Metro-East News

See the original Gettysburg Address — in Lincoln’s own hand

An original copy of the Gettysburg Address will be on display, for two weeks only, in Springfield.

One of the most famous speeches in American history, this particular copy of the Gettysburg Address is one of only five surviving copies written by President Lincoln himself. It will be on display later this month at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum to commemorate the 154th anniversary of the speech’s delivery, which took place on Nov. 19, 1863, at the dedication of a cemetery for the soldiers killed at the Battle of Gettysburg.

“The Gettysburg Address expressed what the Civil War was really about, and therefore, what America is all about: ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people,’” said museum director Alan Lowe. “A handwritten copy of that speech is a physical link to that key moment in history. We’re proud to offer everyone a chance to see it for themselves.”

The museum will offer several commemorations of the speech, which is famous in part for its brevity: only 272 words, which will appear on a puzzle for student groups to assemble. On Nov. 18, the 33rd Illinois Volunteer Regiment Band will perform at the museum, and throughout that weekend, historic interpreters will portray Civil War soldiers.

Lincoln wrote out several copies of the speech, one of which was given to a group that sold it to raise funds for wounded soldiers. Almost a century later, Illinois schoolchildren donated pennies and nickels so that the state could buy that copy back. That is the copy that will be on display at the library.

For more information, visit the museum website.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald