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


[1]   Sources of the various drafts and reports of this speech are given in the succeeding footnotes.

[2]   The fact that the first page of this draft was written in ink on Executive Mansion stationery indicates that this page was written at Washington before Lincoln went to Gettysburg. Since the page ends in an incomplete sentence, it may be inferred that there was also a second page written in Washington. The only extant second page, however, written in pencil on lined paper, shows indications of being a copy, presumably of an original page so completely revised and overwritten that Lincoln threw it away. It is also possible, however, that this copy was made from the second draft (see note 3), or possibly from a still different draft of which we have no knowledge.

When he made the copy is another matter of uncertainty. According to John G. Nicolay, he wrote it at Gettysburg on the morning of November 19 (for Nicolay's complete account, see Century Magazine, new series, XXV, 596-608); but it is also possible that he wrote this page on the night of November 18 and the second draft on the 19th (see William E. Barton, Lincoln at Gettysburg, pp. 68 ff.).

[3]   The last three words written in ink on the first page, ``to stand here,'' were deleted by Lincoln and ``we here be dedica-'' inserted in pencil. If the extant second page of the first draft is a copy, in making the copy Lincoln presumably erred in beginning the revision at the end of page one with the word ``dedicated'' which appears in line 17 of the second draft, instead of beginning with the word ``dedicated'' in line 15.

[4]   ADf, DLC. This draft is written on lined paper similar to the extant second page of the first draft. The emendations which appear in this draft and the important revisions from the first draft are indicated in succeeding notes.

The exact relationship between the first and second drafts cannot now be established beyond question, for certain emendations in the second draft restore the reading of the first draft. Some of these emendations, however, must have been made after Lincoln delivered the speech, for the newspaper versions follow in some instances the original wording of this draft rather than the emendations (notes 6, 7, 8, 12). Thus it would seem that although Lincoln spoke from the second draft as first written, and perhaps partially revised, he did not read it verbatim. He probably made further changes in this draft after the address to make it conform to what he said.

Nicolay states that Lincoln prepared ``a new autograph copy'' after he consulted newspaper reports of the address. Possibly Nicolay referred to the Everett copy (infra), which we do not know to have been prepared after rather than before receipt of Everett's letter of January 30, 1864. It has also been supposed that there was once an autograph copy prepared for Judge David Wills, at whose home Lincoln stayed on the night before the dedication ceremony, but this supposed copy has never been located. In any event Nicolay's account is incomplete and vague, and shows no acquaintance with the second draft.

[5]   ``Here'' does not appear in the first draft.

[6]   Lincoln wrote ``are met,'' deleted the words, and inserted ``have come,'' as in the first draft.

[7]   Lincoln wrote ``the,'' deleted the word, and substituted ``a,'' as in the first draft.

[8]   Lincoln wrote ``of,'' deleted the word, and substituted ``for'' as in the first draft.

[9]   First draft reads ``who died here, that the nation might live.''

[10]   See first draft for first version of this sentence.

[11]   First draft reads ``hallowed.''

[12]   ``Poor,'' as in the first draft, purposely or inadvertently omitted, is inserted above the line.

[13]   First draft reads ``while it can never.''

[14]   See note 3.

[15]   Lincoln wrote ``the,'' deleted the word, and substituted ``that,'' as in first draft.

[16]   ``That'' does not appear in the first draft.

[17]   ``The nation,'' in first draft.

[18]   ``This'' does not appear in the first draft.

[19]   New York Tribune, Times, and Herald, November 20, 1863. Except for minor differences in punctuation and capitalization, the text is the same in all three papers and is the Associated Press version prepared by Joseph L. Gilbert. According to Gilbert's later account, his text was prepared partly from his shorthand notes and partly from Lincoln's manuscript (see Barton, op. cit., pp. 189-92). Since this version follows closely the second draft prior to its having been emended, down to the final sentence, we have to account chiefly for the variants between the newspaper text and the second draft in this final sentence. All of these variants may be explained by the hypothesis that Lincoln did not read his manuscript verbatim, and hence Gilbert's shorthand followed the spoken word. Some of them may be accounted for as errors, which in spite of having access to the manuscript Gilbert did not correct, or which occurred in transcription. In any event Gilbert seems not to have relied on the manuscript for Lincoln's last sentence.

Aside from Gilbert's text there are several independent newspaper texts, of varying degrees of reliability, such as those in the Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Inquirer. Inferior in general, they are important chiefly in establishing one word, ``poor,'' omitted by Gilbert, which Lincoln assuredly must have spoken and which appears in both first and second drafts. ``Our poor power,'' rather than Gilbert's ``our power,'' appears in the Chicago Tribune, and the Philadelphia Inquirer has ``our poor attempts,'' in texts prepared independently of each other, and also independently of the Associated Press text. These papers corroborate Gilbert's version, however, in having the phrase ``under God,'' which Lincoln must have used for the first time as he spoke.

Barton (op. cit., pp. 80-83) credits the text taken down in shorthand by Charles Hale of the Boston Advertiser as being ``what Lincoln actually said,'' and gives it preference over Gilbert's text chiefly on the ground that Gilbert consulted Lincoln's manuscript, whereas Hale relied solely on his shorthand notes. The few particulars in which Hale's version differs from Gilbert's have been indicated in footnotes. In one particular, however, it may be questioned whether Hale was accurate---along with Gilbert he omits ``poor'' from ``our poor power.'' It is difficult to comprehend how ``poor'' found its way into other newspaper reports unless Lincoln spoke the word, and yet both Gilbert and Hale omitted it.

[20]   Hale's text and that of the Chicago Tribune are ``have given.''

[21]   Philadelphia Inquirer has ``our poor attempts'' and Chicago Tribune has ``our poor power.''

[22]   A obvious error in Gilbert's text in all three New York papers. Hale's version and the Chicago Tribune have ``unfinished.''

[23]   Hale's version has ``these'' as in the drafts.

[24]   The plural appears only in Gilbert's text, so far as is known, and may well be an error of transcription.

[25]   Hale's version omits ``and'' as in the drafts, but the Inquirer text also has ``and.''

[26]   AD, IHi. This manuscript was sent to Edward Everett, to be bound in a volume with the manuscript of Everett's address and sold at the Sanitary Fair in New York. For particulars see the note to Lincoln's letter to Everett, February 4, 1864, infra. It is not certain that this copy was made specifically for this purpose after receipt of Everett's letter of January 30, and quite probably it may have been made earlier. In either case, comparison of the Everett copy with the first and second drafts and with the newspaper versions shows it to have been made as a careful revision, incorporating the phrase ``under God'' and other minor changes from the newspapers, and making additional revisions as indicated in the succeeding notes, but in general following the revised second draft.

[27]   ``That field'' replaced ``it'' of the earlier versions.

[28]   ``It'' was adopted from the newspaper version.

[29]   The remainder of this sentence was completely revised from the earlier versions.

[30]   ``Under God'' was incorporated from the newspaper versions.

[31]   AD, NIC. This copy was prepared upon request of George Bancroft for reproduction in facsimile in Autograph Leaves of Our Country's Authors (1864), a volume to be sold by the Baltimore Sanitary Fair. For particulars see Lincoln's letter to Bancroft, February 29, 1864, infra. This text is notable chiefly for Lincoln's change of ``upon this continent'' to ``on this continent.'' Written on both sides of a single sheet of paper, the manuscript was not suitable for reproduction, and hence Lincoln prepared the final copy, infra.

[32]   ``On'' replaced ``upon'' of the earlier versions.

[33]   ADS, owned by Oscar Cintas, Havana, Cuba. Generally known as the ``Bliss Copy'' from its long possession by the family of Alexander Bliss, a member of the committee which obtained the volume of original autographs to provide facsimiles for Autograph Leaves of Our Country's Authors, this was Lincoln's final text. Only one change in wording, as noted, was made in this copy from the Bancroft copy. The exact date that Lincoln prepared this final manuscript is not known, but was sometime later than March 4, 1864, when John P. Kennedy wrote on behalf of the Baltimore Sanitary Fair to explain that the Bancroft copy would not do because it could not be fitted to the pages of the proposed volume.

[34]   ``Here'' is omitted from the phrase ``they here gave,'' which appears in preceding versions.