An Invitation to Speak

One hundred and fifty years ago President Lincoln received an invitation to say “a few appropriate remarks”.  Lincoln while he was President received many invitations to speak and accepted very few of them.  This one, however, he did accept.  It was an invitation from David Wills, a Gettysburg attorney, who had been appointed by Andrew Curtin, governor of Pennsylvania, to spearhead the ceremony for the opening of the national cemetery at Gettysburg.

Beginning on October 17 the Union dead had been removed from their makeshift graves and reburied.  We must not think of Gettysburg then as it is now.  Now, it is a national park, a symbol of national pride.  Then it was a scene of almost unspeakable horror, bearing the raw scars of a huge battle where over 8,000 Americans had recently been killed  and over 27,000 had been wounded, many maimed for life.  It had been a Union victory, but the War went on with no end in sight.  Lincoln seized upon the opportunity to explain to the American people, perhaps to also explain to himself, what Gettysburg meant.  Here is the text of the invitation: (more…)

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Published in: on November 4, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on An Invitation to Speak  
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