Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 7.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

Remarks to Citizens of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania [1]

November 18, 1863

I appear before you, fellow-citizens, merely to thank you for this compliment. The inference is a very fair one that you wouldPage  17 hear me for a little while at least, were I to commence to make a speech. I do not appear before you for the purpose of doing so, and for several substantial reasons. The most substantial of these is that I have no speech to make. [Laughter.] In my position it is somewhat important that I should not say any foolish things.

A VOICE---If you can help it.

Mr. LINCOLN---It very often happens that the only way to help it is to say nothing at all. [Laughter.] Believing that is my present condition this evening, I must beg of you to excuse me from addressing you further.

Annotation

[1]   New York Tribune, November 20, 1863. ``After supper the President was serenaded by the excellent band of the 5th New-York Artillery. After repeated calls, Mr. Lincoln at length presented himself, when he was loudly cheered.'' (Ibid.).