How would you have liked to open up for Abraham Lincoln in Gettysburg on Nov 19, 1863?
Somebody had to, so why not one Edward Everett?
But before you go feeling too sorry for Edward you should know that HE was the one who showed up that day as the primary speaker – with his own very big set of speech giving shoes.
Everett was a renowned politician, pastor, educator, diplomat, and orator. Over his lifetime he served as a U.S. Congressman, U.S. Senator, Governor of Massachusetts, Minister to England and as a United States Secretary of State. He also taught and served as President of Harvard University.
So it was HIS fame and talent that everyone had come to behold and it was the embattled President Lincoln who would attempt to follow as something of an afterthought.
Everett in the tradition of the great speech-makers of the day spoke for just over 2 hours. Lincoln, who had composed his remarks while in route on the train, spoke for less than 2 minutes.
247 words verses some 16,800.
And we all know of course what was remembered – Lincoln’s short yet sage reminder that the ground had already been hallowed and 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.”