Edward Everett, “Gettysburg Address” (19 November 1863)


Supreme Member
"When organizers planned the ceremonial dedication of a cemetery for the Union dead on the Gettysburg battlefield, they didn’t choose the sitting president as the keynote speaker. That honor went to Edward Everett, a former Massachusetts senator, governor, Harvard president and U.S. secretary of state who was considered one of greatest orators of his day."

"When Everett asked for more time to prepare his address, the event’s date was pushed from late October to November 19. The inclusion of Lincoln, who was then busy steering the North through the Civil War, was something of an afterthought: he wasn’t formally invited until a little more than two weeks before the ceremony, and he was asked only to deliver a few remarks at its conclusion."


The Other Gettysburg Address You Probably Haven't Heard Of


[1] STANDING beneath this serene sky, overlooking these broad fields now reposing from the labors of the waning year, the mighty Alleghenies dimly towering before us, the graves of our brethren beneath our feet, it is with hesitation that I raise my poor voice to break the eloquent silence of God and Nature. But the duty to which you have called me must be performed;–grant me, I pray you, your indulgence and your sympathy.

[2] It was appointed by law in Athens, that the obsequies of the citizens who fell in battle should be performed at the public expense, and in the most honorable manner. Their bones were carefully gathered up from the funeral pyre where their bodies were consumed, and brought home to the city. There, for three days before the interment, they lay in state, beneath tents of honor, to receive the votive offerings of friends and relatives,–flowers, weapons, precious ornaments, painted vases (wonders of art, which after two thousand years adorn the museums of modern Europe),–the last tributes of surviving affection.

Ten coffins of funereal cypress received the honorable deposit, one for each of the tribes of the city, and an eleventh in memory of the unrecognized, but not therefore unhonored, dead, and of those whose remains could not be recovered. On the fourth day the mournful procession was formed: mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, led the way, and to them it was permitted by the simplicity of ancient manners to utter aloud their lamentations for the beloved and the lost; the male relatives and friends of the deceased followed; citizens and strangers closed the train.

Thus marshalled, they moved to the place of interment in that famous Ceramicus, the most beautiful suburb of Athens, which had been adorned by Cimon, the son of Miltiades, with walks and fountains and columns,–whose groves were filled with altars, shrines, and temples,–whose gardens were kept forever green by the streams from the neighboring hills, and shaded with the trees sacred to Minerva and coeval with the foundation of the city,–whose circuit enclosed

“the olive grove of Academe,
Plato’s retirement, where the Attic bird
Trilled his thick-warbled note the summer long,”–

whose pathways gleamed with the monuments of the illustrious dead, the work of the most consummate masters that ever gave life to marble. There, beneath the overarching plane-trees, upon a lofty stage erected for the purpose, it was ordained that a funeral oration should be pronounced by some citizen of Athens, in the presence of the assembled multitude.
(READ MORE) NOTE: (Speech is two hours long).

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William Henry Harrison's Inaugural speech was over 2 hours. He made no accounting for the weather, lightly dressed, etc., and caught pneumonia and died one month after assuming office. His speech was over 8,000 words.
Letter to Edward Everett

"The day before he wrote this letter, President Abraham Lincoln shared the speakers' platform with Edward Everett, who gave the principal oration at the dedication of the soldiers' cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Lincoln was responding to Everett's note which praised him for the "eloquent simplicity & appropriateness" of his remarks. Everett said, "I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes."

"It's ironic that the length of these two speeches has been so much discussed, because the Gettysburg Address is one of Lincoln's shortest efforts. Prior to his presidency, his political speeches often lasted two to three hours, yet he managed to retain the attention of his listeners. For example, the reporter covering his speech in Dover, New Hampshire, on March 2, 1860, wrote, "Mr. Lincoln spoke nearly two hours and we believe he would have held his audience had he spoken all night."

Executive Mansion
November 20, 1863

Hon. Edward Everett.
My dear Sir:

Your kind note of to-day is received. In our respective parts yesterday, you could not have been excused to make a short address,nor I a long one. I am pleased to know that, in your judgment, the little I did say was not entirely a failure. Of course I knew Mr. Everett would not fail; and yet, while the whole discourse was eminently satisfactory, and will be of great value, there were passages in it which transcended my expectation.

The point made against the theory of the general government being only an agency, whose principals are the States, was new to me, and, as I think, is one of the best arguments for the national supremacy. The tribute to our noble women for their angel-ministering to the suffering soldiers, surpasses, in its way, as do the subjects of it, whatever has gone before.

Our sick boy, for whom you kindly inquire, we hope is past the worst. Your Obt. Servt.

A. Lincoln
Interesting that, as you point out, Everett was the primary speaker. His long speech is long forgotten.

You have to admire what Lincoln did with just a few short words... possibly the greatest speech by a US politician ever, and maybe the shortest.
The alchemy of words.....Lincoln had the ability to turn common words into gold.