Gettysburg College: Witness to America’s Civil War history
Tensions that threatened to tear the America apart were already simmering in 1832, when anti-slavery theologian Samuel Simon Schmucker founded Gettysburg College (then Pennsylvania College). Five years later, the College moved into Pennsylvania Hall, built on land provided by abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens, whose illustrious career in Congress included authorship of the 14th Amendment, which guaranteed full civil rights to citizens of all states.
When the Civil War erupted, Gettysburg College stood in its midst. Elements of two great armies swept through campus on July 1, 1863, the first day of the decisive Battle of Gettysburg. Pennsylvania Hall became a hospital for hundreds of soldiers from both North and South.
On November 19, 1863, College students and faculty processed with community members to hear President Abraham Lincoln deliver the Gettysburg Address at the Gettysburg National Cemetery. It was David Wills, a local, prominent attorney and an 1851 graduate of the College, who had invited Lincoln to deliver “a few appropriate remarks” at the cemetery’s dedication. Each August, first-year students at Gettysburg College recreate the historic pro- cession through town to hear an honored guest read the Gettysburg Address.
A 15-minute film by Gettysburg College about the enduring meaning of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
Pennsylvania College in 1862
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