The Fight For Tennessee: July 1863 to January 1864
What was the scene at Gettysburg?
Almost twenty thousand people crowded the little town on November 19, 1863. Lincoln and his aides arrived by railroad car the night before and rose early to put their finishing touches on the speech. It is a measure of Lincoln’s remarkable self-confidence that he wrote the words himself and showed them to no one that we know of. When the time for the dedication arrived, Lincoln walked over to the cemetery.
Called upon to speak first, Edward Everett delivered a rousing speech that lasted two hours; he recited entirely from memory. It was a stunning vindication of the power of retention and served as an admonishment to those who claimed there was “too much” information in the world and that no one could master all of it. Perhaps it was not the single best performance of Everett’s long career, but it ranks in the top three or four of all his speeches. Then came Lincoln’s turn.