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The Gettysburg Address – First Day of Printing, Lowell
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“It is rather for us 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...”

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 a report on the ceremonies, and mentions Edward Everett’s speech (calling it “long,”). The text of this Massachusetts newspaper closely follows the Boston Daily Advertiser’s text, which varies slightly from the AP versions.

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN]. GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. Newspaper, Lowell Daily Citizen & News, Lowell, Mass., November 20, 1863. 4 pp., 17 ½ x 23 in.

Inventory #23307       Price: $10,000

Partial Transcript

“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 great battle field of that war; we are met to dedicate a portion of it as the final resting place of those who have given 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 power to add or detract. (Applause.) The world will note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forbid what they did here. (Applause). It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work that they have thus for[far] so nobly carried on. (Applause). It is rather for us 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 government of the people by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth. (Long continued applause.)

Three cheers were here given for the President 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. Charles Hale, who worked for a competing Boston newspaper, the Daily Advertiser, was an eyewitness copyist at Gettysburg. His newspaper published a morning edition that differed from the AP version, and despite his careful account, the paper nevertheless introduced two unique errors to the text. Both the Lowell Citizen and the Boston Daily Advertiser omitted the word “little” before “note” and changed “forget” to “forbid” in the line: “The world will [little] note nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forbid [forget] what they did here.”

Neither the Boston Daily Advertiser nor the Lowell Citizen used the AP’s text, because both newspapers correctly quoted Lincoln as saying the nation had “unfinished work” instead of the AP’s “refinished work.” Other than that, the text from these two regional newspapers is nearly exact, except for a few commas and a minor typesetting error. Ultimately, the speed with which first-day printings were produced, as well as the vagaries of nineteenth-century telegraph 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.
  • the word “poor,” heard by some reporters and present in both of Lincoln’s drafts, is excluded here: “ far above our [poor] power to add or detract”
  • “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]”

 

For the full historical background of the Gettysburg Address click here.


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