In a day and age where Lincoln was known to give speeches for hours, at Gettysburg he said only these few lines. The man before him, Edward Everett had already spoken for two hours and in what may have been meant to a slight against the President he was chosen to be the giver of Dedicatory Remarks over a tiny cemetery on this battlefield where the gore of war still lay upon the ruptured countryside.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
The crowds reaction was immediate. According to those there at Gettysburg, President Lincoln was interrupted five times by thundering applause. So it seems that these natural breaks in his speech that we know so well, may have been those moments where he had to stop and let the crowd wear it self out.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.
This was a speech to dedicate not a new national cemetery, but rather a modest one at Gettysburg that would be the final resting place for men from both sides of the conflict, brothers in arms that had torn each other asunder and given their all for their causes.
We are met on a great battle-field of that war.We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.