The Untold Story of the Gettysburg Address

The diary entries of Gettysburg College alumnus David Wills paint a picture of a serious, young man focused on his responsibilities as a student--studying the classics, practicing his debate skills. He was a 20-year-old junior at what was then called Pennsylvania College (now Gettysburg College), and each night he conscientiously recorded his daily schedule, his visits with friends and family, his trips to town for his favorite dinner of oysters.

Wills' diary offers few personal reflections or glimpses into aspirations for the future, but the entries made in the late 1840s and early 1850s do indicate that he and fellow students were well aware of the political controversies sweeping the young nation. Their lives not yet disrupted by the gathering storm that would threaten to divide the country in the next decade, and nothing in the young man's diary suggests the prominent role that he himself would play in the storm's aftermath.

READ MORE about David Wills' impact on the Gettysburg Address.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Judith Lindquist, Gettysburg Magazine, Spring 2009

Contact: Mike Baker, assistant director of communications, 717.337.6521

Posted: Fri, 15 Nov 2013

Next on your reading list

Eisenhower Institute launches new center for the study of presidential leadership

VIDEO: Experts connect students with real world experience through Eisenhower Institute

An experiment gone wrong right

Share this story: