The story of the Gettysburg Address began long before that day Abraham Lincoln stood at the speaker's platform and delivered those famous 272 words.
Dr. Martin Johnson is an Assistant Professor of History at Miami University in Hamilton, Ohio. He says the speech was changed several times before Lincoln delivered it. He started in Washington with an early draft and revised it after arriving at Gettysburg. "The speech we call the Gettysburg Address was really created over the course of several days as a result of this really remarkable intellectual and physical journey," he said.
While at Gettysburg, Lincoln viewed firsthand the aftermath of the battle that took place just months before. Martin said Lincoln was moved by what he saw.
"He had seen photographs of the dead on the battlefield at Antietam and Gettysburg," Martin said. But he points out it was different seeing the actual site in person. Martin adds Lincoln went back to his room and made an unexpected revision. "And, for the first time wrote the words, as far as we know, 'a new birth of freedom' in the Gettysburg Address."
Johnson will talk more on the topic during the annual Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series at UIS Tuesday night, November 19. The event is from 7-9 p.m. at the the Brookens Library. It is free to attend.
Other speakers include Dr. Joseph Fornieri, Professor of Political Science at Rochester Institute of Technology. He'll discuss "Abraham Lincoln's Political Faith in the Gettysburg Address."
Dr. Michael Burlingame, the Chancellor Naomi Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at UIS, will deliver opening remarks and speak about "The Gettysburg Address: Myths and Realities."