Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation

Amy West

“Two-Minutes” After a two-hour speech delivered by Edward Everett, by memory, President Abraham Lincoln stepped up to the podium and delivered a ‘slightly’ smaller speech that would soon become eternal. This dialogue has been remembered and referred to as the Gettysburg Address. President Lincoln believed that this speech was not effective and did not evoke the feeling of tribute that he wanted to express to the crowd. However, despite its shortness, the speech moved the audience of 15,000 which ended in a standing ovation. How many of us could recite a two minute speech and have a lasting impact? Not many. Lincoln chose such eloquent words in his speech that the quantity did not matter instead; it was evaluated based on the quality. Political opinions of the speech were generally divided along partisan lines with Republicans praising it whereas Democrats finding it inappropriate for such an historic moment. What made the Gettysburg Address so unique was how it was written. Lincoln wrote five different versions of the speech and was amending it right up until the night before he delivered the address. Everett summed up what everyone was thinking by writing to Lincoln, “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes.” Lincoln, forever after the speech, never felt that it was the full tribute he had hoped for, although, others felt differently. The simplicity and eloquence of the speech is what made it so beloved by Americans then and now. Amy West