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The Gettysburg Address – First Day of Printing, Boston
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“…Three cheers were here given for the President and the Governors of the States…”

This rare first day of publication newspaper contains Lincoln’s timeless embodiment of American ideals on page 4. This printing from November 20, a day after the speech, includes Edward Everett’s entire speech, and a report on the ceremonies. Mercifully, the afternoon paper adjusts two widely reported textual errors—one in Associated Press versions, and the other in a competing Boston newspaper from earlier that day.

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN]. GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. Newspaper, Boston Evening Transcript, Boston, November 20, 1863. 4 pp., 17½ x 23 in.

Inventory #22513       Price: $7,500


EDITORIAL COMMENTARY on the GETTYSBURG ADDRESS. Newspaper, Boston Evening Transcript, Boston, November 21, 1863. 4 pp., 17½ x 23 in.     

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 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 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. The 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 Boston Evening Transcript used the AP’s text, because both papers correctly quoted Lincoln as saying the nation had “unfinished work” instead of the AP’s “refinished work.” However, it appears that the Evening Transcript used some of the morning paper’s copy, because while correctly printing the much more sensible “forget” in place of “forbid,” the afternoon paper still left out the word “little” in exactly the same place. Other than that, the text from these two competing newspapers is nearly exact, except for a few commas. 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.
  • 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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