This is one of only five surviving copies of the Gettysburg Address in Abraham Lincoln’s own hand. He wrote it for Edward Everett, who was the main speaker at the November 19, 1863, Gettysburg National Cemetery dedication. The day after the ceremony, Everett 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, the State of Illinois purchased it with pennies and nickels donated by Illinois schoolchildren and a contribution from Marshall Field III. The generosity of those students—even as American soldiers were fighting for democracy overseas in the Second World War—ensured this quintessential statement of American freedom will reside forever in Lincoln’s home state.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon 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 here 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.