THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS
In a tribute to the 51,000 Americans that had been killed, injured or lost in the July 1-3, 1863 battle of Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln in his 1863 Gettysburg Address declared that "this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom." Lincoln spoke of the greatness of the sacrifice of the men of both North and South in his dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery. He gave the battle a transcendental sense by transforming the battle into a statement of principle. His Address effectively reinterpreted the Constitution to accurately reflect the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal. His speech is celebrated, along with the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Preamble to the Constitution, as one of our most famous national documents.
The good that came out of the Civil War was the ending of African-American slavery. In keeping with the Declaration of Independence, all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain God-given rights, among them Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. The Thirteenth through Fifteenth Amendments to the U. S. Constitution were added as a result of the Civil War to end slavery (1865), to provide equal protection to all that were defined as citizens (1868), and to grant the vote to former slaves (1870).
The belief and expression "Nation under God" later became part of our Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America. Recognized in both the War of American Independence and the War of 1812, it took the Civil War for the USA to again recognize God in public. The first circulating currency to bear the phrase In God We Trust was the two-cent coin of 1864. In God We Trust was formally established as the national motto of the United States of America on July 30, 1956 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on 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 battlefield 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 cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot 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 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.
November 19, 1863
In God We Trust
Pledge of Allegiance