Gettysburg Address Lesson for Kids Facts & Summary

Instructor: Crystal Ladwig
What is perhaps the most famous speech in US history? Hint: it was delivered both at a battlefield and a cemetery. Read on to find out more about the Gettysburg Address and how it helped to change the United States forever.

The Battle of Gettysburg

Between July 1 and July 3, 1863, Union and Confederate soldiers clashed in one of the bloodiest and most important battles of the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg. At the battle's end, more than 51,000 Union and Confederate soldiers had been killed, wounded, or were missing. Confederate soldiers eventually fled south in defeat.

The Gettysburg Address

In the months following the Battle of Gettysburg, the battlefield site was slowly turned into a cemetery where the soldiers who fought and died there were also buried there. In November 1863, the cemetery was finished and a special ceremony was planned to officially dedicate the National Cemetery at Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. Two speakers were invited. The main speaker was Edward Everett. President Abraham Lincoln was also invited to give 'a few appropriate remarks.' Everett spoke for two hours, but it was Lincoln's two-minute speech that we remember as the Gettysburg Address, President Lincoln's most famous speech and one of the greatest speeches in United States history.

This picture of President Abraham Lincoln was taken in 1863, just two weeks before he delivered his famous Gettysburg Address speech.
Abraham Lincoln 1863

Revolutionary Ideas and a New Freedom

There are five known copies, each slightly different, of the Gettysburg Address written in Lincoln's own handwriting. One of them is widely believed to be the one Lincoln actually read from during the speech. In it, Lincoln reminded people of the ideals of freedom that had led to our independence from England 87 years (or, as Lincoln said, ''Four score and seven years ago'') earlier including the idea that ''all men are created equal.'' He honored the soldiers who died saying they ''gave their lives that (the) nation might live.'' The Civil War was framed as the ultimate test of whether the nation created with these values would survive.

This picture was actually taken on the day of the Gettysburg Address. The man near the middle in a different color print is Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln at Gettysburg

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