Gettysburg Address Full Text: Read Abraham Lincoln's Famously Short Civil War Speech on Its Anniversary

On this day 155 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, a brief speech during the Civil War that would go down as perhaps the best bit of oration in American history.

Lincoln was invited to offer a few words after the bloody battle in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. What he settled on was a clear, short message—one that reminded people what all this terrible, bloody death was about, and what might come of it. Lincoln offered just about 270 words, promising what was said would long be forgotten under the weight of those who fought the battle. He was wrong, of course, but the message remains powerful: The real way to honor the dead is to fight for the cause for which they died.

Here's what Lincoln said, in full:

"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."

The brief, focused speech has stood the test of time, even if Lincoln wrote it off as unmemorable when he spoke in 1863.

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A statue of Abraham Lincoln is seen at the Lincoln Memorial on November 19, 2013, in Washington, D.C. Monday marks the 155th anniversary of Lincoln's historic Gettysburg Address. Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

The United States' current leader, President Donald Trump, has compared his own speeches to Lincoln's famous address.

"You know when Abraham Lincoln made that Gettysburg Address speech, the great speech, you know he was ridiculed?" Trump said during a rally in Billings, Montana, in September. "And he was excoriated by the fake news. They had fake news then. They said it was a terrible, terrible speech."

There was at least one bad review of Lincoln's speech. The Harrisburg Patriot & Union infamously wrote in an article at the time: "We pass over the silly remarks of the President. For the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them, and that they shall be no more repeated or thought of."

The paper retracted the piece 150 years later, in 2013