This is one of only five surviving copies of the Gettysburg Address in Abraham Lincoln’s own hand. He originally gave it to Edward Everett soon after the Gettysburg National Cemetery dedication. Everett was the main speaker that day, giving a two-hour address. The next day, he wrote to Lincoln, “I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.” When a private collector put this copy up for auction in 1944, Illinois schoolchildren donated pennies, which were combined with a donation from Marshall Field III, in order to raise the $60,000 needed for purchase. Showing remarkable generosity—even as American soldiers were fighting for democracy overseas in the Second World War—those students ensured this quintessential statement of American freedom would reside in Lincoln’s home state, where it could be viewed for generations to come.
A rare piece of history