Facts in Five

Gettysburg Address edition


  • Lincoln did not write the speech on the back of an envelope during the train ride to Gettysburg- he worked on the speech in the weeks leading up to the ceremony, making minor alterations after arriving in Gettysburg
  • “Under God”  is in the original speech.  Secularists enjoy speculating Lincoln omitted those words, but three separate newspaper transcriptions include them- the reporters were in the crowd that day.
  • There is no photograph of Lincoln giving the speech- the one known photo captures Lincoln returning to his seat after speaking… a recent discovery may show Lincoln before the speech. 
  • Lincoln composed the address without speechwriters.  This is one of the few Presidential speeches where this can be positively asserted. 
  • The exact spot of the address is still in doubt.  Scholars now acknowledge that both commemorative plaques in the National Cemetery are incorrect. 
November 19, 1863-  nice hat, Abe

November 19, 1863- nice hat, Abe



Filed under News

2 responses to “Facts in Five

  1. It’s not just “secularists” making the contention about “under God”. Lincoln may well have uttered those words, but they are not in the two earliest copies of the speech, written in his hand and given to his personal secretaries. The three later copies he wrote out do contain the phrase.

    Lincoln often strayed from the exact wording of what he wrote out for his use as a guide when making speeches. As any historian (or officer of the court) knows, eyewitness may or may not be reliable. And when documentary evidence isn’t consistent, one can’t be entirely certain.

    • There is no controversy. It is established that Lincoln did not read from Nicolay/Hay copies. Weighing the evidence, including the fact that Lincoln often turned to the AP transcription for his own uses, he indeed strayed from earlier drafts that day.

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