Wide-ranging event to reflect on 150th anniversary of Gettysburg Address

A UChicago commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the delivery of the Gettysburg Address will take place Tuesday, Nov. 19 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the Social Science Research Building, Room 122.

The address is President Abraham Lincoln’s compact but richly poetic dedication of a Union cemetery in November 1863, delivered in the wake of the Civil War’s pivotal Battle of Gettysburg. The clash of Union and Confederate armies killed or wounded more than 50,000 soldiers.


“It was a major step in finding meaning in that tragic event, finding inspiration and purpose,” said John Mark Hansen, the Charles L. Hutchinson Distinguished Service Professor in Political Science and the College and an expert on U.S. politics.  

Hansen, who organized the event, invited participants from a broad range of disciplines, including history, law, poetry, religious studies, literature and political philosophy, to reflect on what he calls “America’s national poem.”


Participants will include Jane Dailey, associate professor in History and the College; Franklin I. Gamwell, the Shailer Matthews Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Divinity School; Dennis J. Hutchinson, senior lecturer in the Law School and the William Rainey Harper Professor in the College; Ralph Lerner, the Benjamin Franklin Professor Emeritus in the College and the Committee on Social Thought; Eric Slauter, associate professor in English Languages and Literature and the College; and Rosanna Warren, the Hanna Holborn Gray Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the College.

Two versions of the address will be recited. Charles Newell, artistic director of Court Theatre, will read the “Hay draft,” which represents edits Lincoln made to the document after its delivery at Gettysburg. Christopher Huff, a master’s degree candidate in the School of Social Service Administration, will read the “Bliss copy,” which is now considered the official version that appears on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Hansen pointed out that Lincoln was placed second on the billing for the Gettysburg dedication, following a grand, two-hour speech by former Harvard University President Edward Everett. He also was admonished to keep his comments short, asked to provide only “a few appropriate remarks,” Hansen said.

“Here was a president directed to brevity by the occasion but willing to appear even though he was not the main event,” Hansen added. “Clearly, he had something he wanted to say.”

Please visit GettysburgUChi.eventbrite.com to RSVP for the event.