Lincoln 108 by artist Wendy Allen

 

Musselman Library
Gettysburg College
Gettysburg, PA 17325
(717) 337-6600

 

Lincoln in
Gettysburg

 


"...the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here..."

Only known photo of Lincoln at Gettysburg. Library of Congress

To His Excellency, A. Lincoln...

Little did Gettysburg resident David Wills realize what would happen when he put his pen to paper one crisp November day. Wills' hastily written invitation to President Abraham Lincoln would lead to one of the most famous moments in American History – The Gettysburg Address.


Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin had given 32-year-old Wills the onerous task of overseeing the gruesome cleanup after the infamous Battle, which had devastated the small town of Gettysburg. Residents were left to not only tend the wounded, but bury the thousands of dead.

But rather than burying the dead where they fell, Wills decided to create a national cemetery. He acquired 17 acres just south of town and created the Soldier's National Cemetery.

 

Governor Curtin


A Few Appropriate Remarks



 

Wills decided the cemetery needed a special dedication.
He invited noted stateman Edward Everett as the featured speaker and then invited President Lincoln to give

"a few appropriate remarks."

 


Painting by Wendy Allen





Will invited him to stay at his home in the town's square (right) and Lincoln accepted.

On Nov. 18, 1863, Lincoln arrived at Gettysburg's small train station (below).

Both buildings still stand.

 

The following morning, Lincoln mounted a horse and rode from the center of town, down Baltimore Street to the cemetery. After a two hour oration by noted statesman Edward Everett, Lincoln rose to speak. His few words became one of the most famous speeches of all time – The Gettysburg Address.

 

 

 


"...
but it can never forget what they did here."

On that November morning in 1863, students of Gettysburg College (then known as Pennsylvania College) walked to the cemetery and heard Lincoln's address.

That moment remains significant to the College. Today, all first year students relive the experience of their predecessors by walking together to the cemetery to hear a reading of the Gettysburg Address as part of their orientation.