In 1863, at the Soldier's National Cemetery in Pennsylvania, the site of a bloody Civil War battle, President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) gave his immortal three-minute Gettysburg Address.
"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal," began Lincoln, who had no way of knowing his elegant and simple tribute would be one of the greatest speeches ever delivered.
Our 16th President was a complex and fascinating man, born poor in a Kentucky log cabin. He was a man of humble beginnings who led the U.S. through the tangled crisis of freedom and slavery, through the bitter battle between the North and South.
"My dream is of a place and time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth," he said.
Lincoln was a born orator, explained historian Robert Green Ingersoll. The President's powerful style was "clear, sincere, natural. He did not pretend. He did not say what he thought others thought, but what he thought." About the Gettysburg Address, Ingersoll added, "The speech will never be forgotten. It will live until languages are dead and lips are dust."
Only 286 words. A milestone of compressed brilliance. Uttered at the crossroads of uncertainty by one of the greatest men of all time. The Gettysburg Address proves that sometimes the simplest things have the greatest complexity and power.More LINCOLN Quotations
Freedom is born in acts of courage.