“Four Score and Seven Years Ago”: A Rare First Printing of the Gettysburg Address, from the Closest Major Newspaper to the Event

Two pieces, including an original paper from November 18 showing the layout of the dedicated cemetery.

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought in July of 1863.  It saw massive armies converge on the small town of Gettysburg, PA, just hours from Philadelphia, and fight what many consider the turning point in the war, a victory for the Union and defeat for Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army. ...

Read More

“Four Score and Seven Years Ago”: A Rare First Printing of the Gettysburg Address, from the Closest Major Newspaper to the Event

Two pieces, including an original paper from November 18 showing the layout of the dedicated cemetery.

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought in July of 1863.  It saw massive armies converge on the small town of Gettysburg, PA, just hours from Philadelphia, and fight what many consider the turning point in the war, a victory for the Union and defeat for Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army.  It was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. So many were killed that it was decided to establish a cemetery specifically for them, the first such cemetery in the United States.

On November 18, President Lincoln arrived in Gettysburg to dedicate that cemetery, which was the final resting place of many who died that day.  It was a solemn occasion and Lincoln gave a short speech, but that speech is now the most famous speech given by any American.  Lincoln rose after Edward Everett’s two-hour dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg, and “delivered the ‘few appropriate remarks’ requested of him, and in ten sentences not only did eternal justice to the many who had fallen, but articulated the very basis of the American democracy.

Among the few newspapers who independently reported on this event was the Philadelphia Inquirer, one of the nation’s leading papers, and one that still exists today.  It not only reported on the speech; it reported on the preparations.

Two original reports for sale

On November 18, it published a map of the cemetery under the large headline “The Great National Soldiers’ Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.” It describes the purchase of the land and reads, in part, “…It was on this ground that the most severe fighting of the second and third days took place.  The lot was purchased by the State of Pennsylvania, each state represented in the battle having a lot presented to it proportionate in size to the number of bodies to be interred… the number of whom no clue could be obtained as to name, regiment, etc., being greater than any State, two lots have appropriated to their reception, and classed as ‘Unknown.'”

On November 20, the day after the speech, being the first printing of the Gettysburg Address, the Inquirer published its own independent account of the speech on the front page under the headline “Our Great National Cemetery; Its Dedication and Consecration; The Events of the Day… The Address of President; Edward Everett’s Oration.”  The paper describes the weather, the size of the crowd, and gives a detailed glimpse into the atmosphere, describing the procession and attendees.  It also prints the entire Gettysburg Address.  It reads, in part, “President Lincoln’s Speech.  Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.  Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing the question whether this nation, or any nation so conceived, so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on the great battle-field of that war. We are met to dedicate it, on a portion of that field set apart as the final resting place of those who gave their lives for the nation’s life; but the nation must live, and it is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this..”  It goes on to note, “Mr. Lincoln sat down amid a scene of wild and lengthened excitement.”

We offer here original newspapers of both the day before the Gettysburg Address, and the one after with its report of the event, published in the largest newspaper in the same state as the event, The Philadelphia Inquirer.  This is one of the most important newspaper dates in history, and original examples of the first printing of the Gettysburg Address are uncommon.

Frame, Display, Preserve

Each frame is custom constructed, using only proper museum archival materials. This includes:The finest frames, tailored to match the document you have chosen. These can period style, antiqued, gilded, wood, etc. Fabric mats, including silk and satin, as well as museum mat board with hand painted bevels. Attachment of the document to the matting to ensure its protection. This "hinging" is done according to archival standards. Protective "glass," or Tru Vue Optium Acrylic glazing, which is shatter resistant, 99% UV protective, and anti-reflective. You benefit from our decades of experience in designing and creating beautiful, compelling, and protective framed historical documents.

Learn more about our Framing Services