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Historians: Mystery Surrounds Gettysburg Address
Historians: Mystery Surrounds Gettysburg Address

We are observing the 150thanniversary of the Gettysburg Address, and there is some mystery about it.

We’ll never know President Lincoln’s exact words at Gettysburg, says historian James M. Cornelius at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, but he says this is the widely accepted account of how the speech ended up in some newspapers:

“President Lincoln read from a couple of pages – maybe more than a couple – while giving the speech, and then handed those pages to Joseph Gilbert, the reporter for the Associated Press, who quickly got it out onto the wire, and that version of it appeared in the Philadelphia and New York papers the next day,” Cornelius said.

That version also was widely re-printed in papers along the East Coast in the following days. However, an AP report that went to the Chicago Tribune was then transmitted around the Midwest and there are discrepancies, either due to reporters or editors, such as the speech beginning “About 90 years ago…” or “Eighty-seven years ago …” Cornelius says.

President Lincoln released his own “final” version of the manuscript in the winter of 1864, and that wasn’t published for 25 years, Cornelius says. That last manuscript now hangs in the White House.

The speech was given 150 years ago Tuesday – Nov. 19, 1863 – at the dedication of the national cemetery at Gettysburg, site of a Civil War battle that killed 7,800.