The Gettysburg Address: Lincoln’s Most Famous Speech

Rutgers University

Louis Masur is Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University. A cultural historian who has written on a variety of topics, his most recent work is The Sum of Our Dreams: A Concise History of America (2020). A specialist on Lincoln and the Civil War, he is the author of Lincoln’s Last Speech: Wartime Reconstruction & The Crisis of Reunion (2015), Lincoln’s Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union (2012), and The Civil War: A Concise History (2011). Masur’s essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, the Washington PostSlate, and on CNN. He has been elected to membership of the American Antiquarian Society, the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, and the Society of American Historians and has received teaching awards from Harvard University, the City College of New York, Trinity College and Rutgers University. His website is



November 18, 2022, 4:00 pm

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It is the most famous speech Abraham Lincoln ever gave, and one of the most important orations in the history of the nation. Delivered on November 19, 1863, among the freshly dug graves of the Union dead, the Gettysburg Address defined the central meaning of the Civil War and gave cause for the nation’s incredible suffering. The poetic language and moral sentiment inspired listeners at the time and have continued to resonate powerfully with groups and individuals up to the present day.

We know that Lincoln was influenced by great thinkers on his own path toward literary and oratory genius, including his knowledge of the King James Bible and Shakespeare. His words have inspired countless thousands to dedicate themselves to the causes of equality and democracy, and his words have never felt more relevant. Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg in a defining moment for America, but his message is universal and timeless.


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