5 Things You Didn't Know About The Gettysburg Address

On November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of a military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Here are 5 surprising facts you probably didn’t know about the Gettysburg Address...


Lincoln Did Not Make the Keynote Speech Edward Everett, a famous orator from Massachusetts, was the keynote speaker at the dedication ceremony for the cemetery. He spoke for two hours, talking about all the exploits of the Union Army at Gettysburg and alluding to Greek History. After he heard Lincoln’s speech, he wrote to the president afterward, saying that Lincoln had done more in two minutes than his own speech of two hours.

Lincoln’s Speech Only Lasted About Two Minutes Lincoln’s speech was just 10 sentences long. In contrast to Everett’s hours-long address, Lincoln spoke for just two minutes. A popular myth tells of President Lincoln hastily jotting down his 270-word speech on the back of an envelope during the train ride from Washington to Gettysburg. In truth, Lincoln put a great deal of planning into his remarks. He began writing the speech the night before he left and completed it after his arrival in Pennsylvania. No one knew at the time that Lincoln’s short speech would go down in history as one of the most memorable speeches of all the presidents.


Lincoln Wrote Every Word of The Gettysburg Address While subsequent presidents have all enjoyed significant assistance from speechwriters in crafting their messages, President Lincoln took a more hands-on approach and is one of the few presidents in U.S. history to have written the entirety of his speeches and remarks.

No Photo Was Taken of Lincoln Addressing the Crowd Although a photo of Lincoln moving through the crowd exists, photographers did not capture his photo while he was speaking. This is because what became known as the Gettysburg Address was only about two minutes long. The amount of time photographers of the day needed to set up their cameras took longer than the speech itself.

Only Five Copies of the Gettysburg Address Are Known to Exist Lincoln gave his two copies of the Gettysburg Address to his secretaries, John Hay and John Nicolay, and they are in the possession of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. A third copy was given to Edward Everett and resides at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. The fourth is in the Lincoln bedroom at the White House, and the fifth is at Cornell University.