Inauguration of the Gettysburg Cemetery

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Inauguration of the Gettysburg Cemetery  (1863) 
published in the Daily Illinois State Journal
For works with similar titles, see Gettysburg Address.

Special dispatches from Gettysburg estimate the number of persons present at the consecration of the National Cemetery at that place on Thursday last, at from 30,000 to 50,000. Among the distinguished persons present were President Lincoln, Secretary Seward, Montgomery Blair, Govs. Tod and Brough, of Ohio; Govs. Curtin, of Pennsylvania, Seymour, of New York. Lieut. Gov. Anderson, of Ohio, Gov. Boreman, of Western Virginia, Gens. Stone, Couch and Schenck, and a number of Foreign Ministers, Admirals, etc.

After the performance of an original piece by the band, furnished by Gov. Curtin, a piece eloquently suited to the occasion, which was performed with pre-eminent skill, Rev. Mr. Stockton, the venerable Chaplain of the United States Senate, was introduced, who offered up such a prayer as only he is capable of. The vast assembly stood uncovered in breathless attention during the invocation, and few indeed were the hearts however obdurate, that did not unite with him in this prayer for the great American nation. Never was a man selected for any service so fit in every respect to perform it. There the reverend gentlemen stood, looking as if himself was one of the brave dead, whose graves were spread out before him, just risen from the tomb to involve the God of nations and liberty, to bless the sacred work and inspire the hearts of the living with the grandeur of the work still before them.

The oration by Mr. Everett, which was one of the most eloquent of his life, occupied two hours and four minutes in delivery.

At the conclusion of the oration the following dirge, composed for the occasion by B. B. French, was performed by a choir from the Musical Association of Baltimore:

As Holy Ground,
This spot where in their graves
We place our country's braves
Who fall in Freedom's holy cause,
Fighting for liberties and laws,
Let tears abound.

Here let them rest,
And summer's heat and winter's cold
Shall wax and wave above their mould;
A thousand years shall pass away,
A nation still shall mourn this clay—
The soil is blest.

Here where they fell,
Oft shall the widow's tear be shed,
Oft shall fond parents mourn their dead,
The orphan here shall kneel and weep,
And maidens where their lovers sleep,
Their woes shall tell.

Great God of Heaven!
Shall all this sacred blood be shed?
Shall we thus mourn our glorious dead?
Oh, shall the end be ruth and woe—
The knell of Freedom's overthrow—
A country riven?

It will not be.
We trust, Oh God, thy gracious power
To aid us in this darkest hour;
This be our prayer: Oh Father save
A people's Freedom from the grave—
All praise to Thee.

President Lincoln was then introduced, when, after the applause had subsided, he spoke as follows:

Four score and seven years ago, our fathers established upon this continent a Government subscribed in liberty and dedicated to the fundamental principle that all mankind are created equal by a good God, [applause] and now we are engaged in a great contest. We are contesting the question whether this nation, or any nation so conceived, so dedicated, can longer remain. We are met on a great battle field of the war. We are met here to dedicate a portion of that field as the final resting place of those who have given their lives to that nation that it might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a large sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men lying dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. [Great applause.] The world will little heed, nor long remember, what we say here; but it will not forget what they did here. [Immense applause.]

It is for us rather, the living, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work that they have thus far so nobly carried forward. It is rather for us here to be dedicated the great task remaining before us; for us to renew our devotion to that cause for which they gave the full measure of their devotion. Here let us resolve that what they have done shall not have been done in vain. That the nation shall, under God, have a new birth. That the Government of the people, founded by the people, shall not perish.

The conclusion of the President's remarks was followed by immense applause, and three cheers given for him, and also three cheers for the Governors of the States.