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TODAY: 150th Anniversary of Gettysburg Address

ITHACA, N.Y. -- (WSYR-TV) - Thousands are expected to gather in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Tuesday to pay tribute to President Abraham Lincoln and his most famous speech. Only a few copies of the speech exist - here's a look at one of them.
ITHACA, N.Y. -- (WSYR-TV) - Thousands are expected to gather in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Tuesday to pay tribute to President Abraham Lincoln and his most famous speech.

Tuesday marks the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.

Only five of Lincoln's handwritten versions of speech are known to exist - and the only one in a private collection is at Cornell University.

The words "Four score and seven years ago" have been etched into America's consciousness for generations.

But the speech on display at Cornell this week took the President only two minutes to read.

Lincoln was not the main speaker that day at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery just months after the bloody battle of Gettysburg.

"He was invited rather belatedly. Formally, we think he was invited verbally, informally much earlier and that he was planning all along that he wanted to address the nation about the meaning of the war and what was going to be needed to win this war," said Lance Heidig, administrator of the Cornell Rare and Manuscript Collection.

There are five known copies of the speech in Lincoln's handwriting - two written before delivering the speech. The remaining ones, like the copy at Cornell, were written in February of the next year and were produced later for soldier benefit events.

The copy came to Cornell twice - once from a chemistry professor who owned it. He was the grandson of a famous historian for whom it was originally penned; and then later it was bought at auction by another prominent member of the school who donated it.

Jennifer Rouin was among those who made a pilgrimage to see the copy of the speech.

"I think it just really brings home the sentiment that he was feeling at the time. It's just full of such heartfelt emotions he was writing of the impact of the war," she said.

"It's all the emotions in one, you really can't believe that's something he sat down and personally wrote and as Jennifer said it's so beyond the type written, it's knowing what he put into himself when he wrote those words," said another visitor, Brenda Teeter.

The four other copies of the Gettysburg Address are owned by public institutions: Two at the Library of Congress, one at the Illinois State Historical Library, and one in the Lincoln Room at the White House.

Visit Cornell's Remembering Lincoln at Gettysburg page for a virtual exhibit.



(story contributed by WSYR, Syracuse, NY)

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