On November 19, 1863 President Lincoln came to Gettysburg to dedicate a National Cemetery for the fallen Union soldiers of the three day battle. This speech is perhaps the most well known in American history.
The ceremonies occupied much of the day, which was rather overcast. The 70-year old distinguished politician and orator Edward Everett spoke for two hours. When he was finished, a patriotic ode was pronounced by a large chorus. Then Lincoln was introduced. The President held the speech in his left hand, referring to it only occasionally, as he spoke slowly in his somewhat nasal, mid-western voice. (to listen to and read speech, click here)
Contrary to tradition, applause interrupted Lincoln five times during his brief Address. At the end of the speech, the crowd gave what one observer called "tremendous applause" and three cheers. Despite Lincoln's belief that the Address was a "flat failure", its oratorical merit was recognized immediately.