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Celebrate Lincolnís legacy in Gettysburg



Visitors can retrace 16th President’s monumental 1863 visit


Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – June 8, 2011


It was less than five months after the American Civil War came north and devastated the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. After three long days of fighting, more than 22,000 dead and wounded soldiers lay out on the farm fields around town. The town’s 2,400 residents were left to pick up the pieces. It took many months, and the town of Gettysburg was never the same.


When it came time to dedicate a National Cemetery where Union soldiers were buried, a tall, lanky president accepted an invitation to say “a few appropriate remarks,” on Nov. 19, 1863. Abraham Lincoln arrived by train, and within a day was back on the train heading back to the White House in Washington, D.C. But what he did in those 25 hours secured his legacy as one of America’s most beloved presidents, and that legacy can be relived in Gettysburg 148 years later.


“Gettysburg has seen its share of great men, but one stands above all others,” said Joanne Lewis, a Gettysburg historian and Licensed Battlefield Guide. “When Abraham Lincoln walked the streets of Gettysburg, he brought hope and caring. Those who witnessed his brief visit never forgot it, and the words he spoke here became some of the most revered words of all time.”


There are numerous ways to learn about and experience both Lincoln and his famous speech in Gettysburg. The town has preserved and protected the legacy that Lincoln created for Gettysburg, himself and for America.


“In Gettysburg, you can walk in Lincoln’s footsteps and experience those places where Lincoln visited during his short stay,” Lewis said. “From the Train Station where he arrived, to the Wills House where he stayed and the Soldiers’ National Cemetery and Presbyterian Church, you can retrace Lincoln’s monumental visit in November 1863.”


The Historic Gettysburg Railroad Station

Start where Lincoln started. The President arrived in Gettysburg the afternoon of Nov. 18th – just a day before he would deliver his immortal speech. When he arrived, there were still bodies of soldiers in the station waiting to be taken home to family members. Today, the Train Station is a Visitor Information Center and museum gallery.


David Wills House

Arguably, the Gettysburg Address would not have occurred had it not been for David Wills, a young attorney who developed the plans for the National Cemetery and sent the invitation to Lincoln. The President stayed overnight in the second floor bedroom and put the finishing touches on his speech that evening. The house is now owned by the National Park Service as a museum dedicated to both Lincoln’s visit and the efforts of Wills in the aftermath of the battle.


“Return Visit” Statue

Called “the most true-to-life” depiction of Lincoln ever created, this statue is one of Gettysburg’s most popular attractions. The statue depicts the 16th president showing a visitor the David Wills house room in which he finished the Gettysburg Address. The sculptor – J. Seward Johnson Jr. – used casts of Lincoln’s face and hands, as well as designs from Lincoln’s suit coat.


Guided Historic Walking Tours

Expert historians help visitors follow Lincoln’s footsteps throughout the town of Gettysburg. These guides will share stories of how the townspeople reacted to the President’s arrival and the mood that day as Lincoln rode down Baltimore Street to the cemetery to make his remarks. These tours include the same stops that the President made during his 25-hour visit to Gettysburg.

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