On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln was invited to deliver remarks as part of the official dedication ceremony for the National Cemetery of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, the site of one of the bloodiest and most decisive battles of the Civil War.
This speech would become known as the Gettysburg Address. Although President Lincoln was not the featured orator that day, his 273-word address would be remembered as one of the most important speeches in American history.
On the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, join the National Constitution Center for a day of reflection and commemoration exploring the impact of this famous speech. Visitors can take in the newly-expanded Civil War experience in the museum’s main exhibition, The Story of We the People; interact with artifacts from the time period; join in a live reading of the Gettysburg Address; and examine its legacy with scholars.
The day will honor the principles of human equality expressed in the Declaration of Independence and brought to life through the sacrifice of the Civil War.
NEW Civil War Experience, 9:30 a.m. – 5 pm.
Visitors can take in the newly expanded Civil War Experience in the museum’s main exhibition, The Story of We the People. Artifacts—including an original oil lamp from General Meade’s Gettysburg headquarters and an original Confederate canteen, lost in the heat of battle—are highlighted. Also on display is a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Lincoln and a leaf from an autograph album that was used to gather signatures at the Dedication of the Gettysburg Cemetery, which is the only known signature of Lincoln from the event. Funding for this project was contributed in part by The McLean Contributionship.
In addition, the museum’s interactive Civil War Cart has been updated to feature new artifacts including: “Come in Out of the Draft” lyrics and music sheet from 1863; a 1862 Union draft notice; a Victorian mourning fan; a Victorian tear catcher; an original New York Times published two days after the death of President Lincoln; a first edition of Daniel C. Eddy’s Angel Whispers mourning book; and a letter between two sisters from the day after Lincoln’s death.
Gettysburg Address Recitation, 11 a.m.
Visitors can join in a live reading of the Gettysburg Address recited by a Historic Philadelphia Inc. Abraham Lincoln portrayer. “President Lincoln” will be at the museum to interact with guests until 12:45 p.m.
The Constitutional Legacy of Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address, 12 p.m.
F.M. Kirby Auditorium
Moderated by National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen, this free program will focus on President Lincoln’s iconic speech and its constitutional legacy. The discussion will feature distinguished scholars Akhil Amar of Yale University and Sean Wilentz of Princeton University. This program is part of the Constitution Center’s new Town Hall Tuesday series and is co-sponsored with the Constitutional Accountability Center.