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The Gettysburg Address, by Ken Burns (and Obama, Conan, Usher & More)

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Slade Sohmer


By Slade Sohmer on November 13, 2013


The Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln’s 11-tweet-long masterpiece, is turning 150 on November 19. And all these famous people and politicians want you to learn it, to memorize it, to recite it, instead of just trailing off and mumbling after “Four score and seven years ago.”

In a civic effort to help you “Learn the Address,” filmmaker Ken Burns enlisted Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, plus celebroyalty like Conan O’Brien, Steven Spielberg, Robin Roberts, Taylor Swift, Usher, Rachel Maddow and many others, to recite it. Chills.

It’s almost as if you’re there, in Gettysburg, in 1863:

In this photo provided by the Library of Congress, President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, in Gettysburg, Pa., on Nov. 19, 1863. (AP Photo/Library of Congress)

In this photo provided by the Library of Congress, President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, in Gettysburg, Pa., on Nov. 19, 1863. (AP Photo/Library of Congress)

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Now go learn it, if you want. It’s only 1473 characters long:

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.
 
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. 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.
 
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Man, the length of just 11 tweets. Lincoln could pack a punch.

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