The Gettysburg Address – First Day of Printing, Philadelphia
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“…The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract…”
This rare first day of publication newspaper contains Lincoln’s timeless embodiment of American ideals on page 2. This printing from November 20, a day after the speech, includes Edward Everett’s entire speech, and a report on the ceremonies. Printed in an important Republican newspaper owned by staunch Lincoln supporter John Forney, this text is unique and in some ways more accurate than the Associated Press report. [ABRAHAM LINCOLN]. GETTYSBURG ADDRESS.
Newspaper, Philadelphia Press, Philadelphia, November 20, 1863. 4 pp., 20¼ x 28 in.
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. [Applause] Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a general battle-field of that war; we are met to dedicate a portion of it as the final resting place of those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this, but in a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. [Applause] The world will note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. [Applause]. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work that they have thus far so nobly carried on. [Applause]. It is rather for us here to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion. That we here highly resolve that the dead shall not have died in vain. [Applause] That the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom, and that the Government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth. [Long applause. Three cheers given for the President of the United States and the Governors of the States….”
The AP version of Lincoln’s speech was the most widely distributed first-day printing of the text. However, many other newspapers had reporters in the field. John Forney, publisher of the Philadelphia Press and the Washington Chronicle (read by soldiers of the Army of the Potomac), was called “Lincoln’s dog” for his closeness to the administration. Forney had his own reporters in the field at Gettysburg, and this version of Lincoln’s address offers some key differences when compared to other accounts. First, the notation for applause differentiates the Philadelphia Press version from the AP report, especially the wording of the three cheers at the speech’s conclusion. Forney’s reporters also correctly quoted Lincoln as saying the nation had “unfinished work” instead of the AP’s “refinished work.” Importantly, this version includes the word “poor” in the line “far above our poor power to add or detract.” Heard by some reporters and present in both of Lincoln’s drafts, the word is omitted in most accounts of the Address. This version also calls the “…great battle-field of that war…” the “…general battle-field of that war…” in another example of minor differences between various news sources. Ultimately, the speed with which first-day printings were produced, as well as the vagaries of nineteenth-century communications, produced many slightly unique versions of Lincoln’s words.
Additional differences between this and other versions of the text include:
“We are met to dedicate” is “We have come to dedicate” in Lincoln’s written copies.
“carried on” is found here and in Lincoln’s second draft, but he replaced it with “advanced” in subsequent drafts: “have thus so far [so] nobly [
carried on advanced]”