Gettysburg Address Manuscript


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.

This "Everett" 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.

The Everett copy of the Gettysburg Address

Everett copy of the Gettysburg Address

SOURCE: LP Album "Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln" Jacket Cover © The Walt Disney Company

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