On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, one of the most memorable speeches in American history.
Lincoln’s speech, though just 271 words, served as a reminder to a war-weary public as to why the Union had to fight and win the Civil War.
Four months earlier, the Battle of Gettysburg proved to be the turning point of the war, but it came at a great cost. Over the course of three days, more than 45,000 men were killed, injured, captured or went missing, making it the bloodiest battle of the Civil War.
Gen. Robert E. Lee’s defeat and retreat from Gettysburg marked the last Confederate invasion of northern territory. It also marked the beginning of the southern Army’s decline.
After the battle, attorney David Willis bought 17 acres of land to turn into a cemetery for the soldiers who died. Just two weeks before the cemetery’s dedication, Willis sent a letter Lincoln requesting “a few appropriate remarks” to consecrate the grounds.
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