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Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (1863)

The Gettysburg Address is one of the most famous and beloved speeches in American history. President Abraham Lincoln delivered this short speech at the dedication of a military cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1863. Lincoln defined the Civil War as a way of securing the Declaration of Independence’s promise of equality of all people. Victory for the Union, Lincoln said, was a way of making the country’s Founding ideals a reality. The speech transformed the meaning of the War, which had previously been about preserving the Union, and provoked a rethinking of the meaning of America’s Founding documents.

Two years later in 1865, the question of slavery would be settled once and for all with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment.