Lincoln experts less interested
in the technical wizardry of Walt Disney's Imagineers might have
found the area outside the "Great Moments" theater
to be the most compelling. Tucked away in it's own special alcove
was one of the most important items of Lincoln memorabilia. A
manuscript of the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln's most famous speech,
in his own handwriting.
This particular manuscript
was not unique, nor was it in fact the one that Lincoln had used
on November 19, 1863 when he gave his immortal speech. To this
day scholars believe that the one Lincoln used that day has been
lost. What remains are five copies in Lincoln's writing, only
one of which is known to have been written before the speech
and is commonly called "the first draft." This copy
was given to one of Lincoln's private secretaries, John Nicolay,
while another copy written just after the speech was given to
his other private secretary, John Hay.
The copy seen by Fair visitors
was written three months after the speech at a time when it had
begun to attract attention as a magnificent work of oratory.
Lincoln wrote it as a gift for former Senator Edward Everett,
the man who had preceded Lincoln on the platform at Gettysburg
as the featured speaker and who had delivered an address that
ultimately ran in excess of two hours. Not long afterwards Everett
had realized how Lincoln's brevity had been more eloquent than
his lengthy oration saying in a gracious letter, "I should
be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the
central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two
minutes." Everett ultimately used his copy of the Address
to help raise funds for veterans' widows.
copy of the Address eventually was donated to the Illinois State
Historical Library which furnished it for display at the Fair.
The display also featured translations of the Address in French,
Spanish, Greek, Hebrew, Russian, Latin and Japanese, which could
be heard on multi-lingual listening devices.