A New Birth of Freedom
In the fall of 1863, tourists, sightseers, and grieving families pour into the little town Gettysburg . The war is not yet over, but eighteen northern states have agreed to share the costs of a national cemetery to be established on Cemetery Hill. The dead soldiers will rest in peace. A ceremony is planned for November 19 to honor them. The famous orator Edward Everett will give a major address. The President is asked to make a few remarks. Lincoln doesn't want to miss this occasion. He has come a day early to work on his speech. He will try to explain the meaning of the war. Many Northerners are crying out for peace. They no longer care about the Union, or the slaves. Lincoln knows the nation can have peace any time it wants. But that would end the United States. Lincoln believes this terrible war has a purpose. He believes it must give new birth to the dream. The 15,000 listeners who sit or stand in the afternoon sun are hot and tired when the President finally rises, puts on his steel-rimmed glasses, and reads his few remarks . E.W. Andrews is in the crowd. He later writes: "On this occasion he came out before the vast assembly, and stepped slowly to the front of the platform, with his hands clasped before him ... his head bent forward, his eyes cast to the ground. In this attitude he stood for a few seconds, silent, as if communing with his own thoughts; and when he began to speak ... his manner indicated no consciousness of the presence of tens of thousands hanging on his lips."