The Gettysburg Address

 

 Alexander Bliss Colonel United States Army

 

Bliss Copy

Discovering that his fourth written copy could not be used, Lincoln then wrote a fifth draft, which was accepted for the purpose requested. The Bliss Copy, named for Colonel Alexander Bliss, Bancroft's stepson and publisher of Autograph Leaves, is the only draft to which Lincoln affixed his signature. Lincoln is not known to have made any further copies of the Gettysburg Address. Because of the apparent care in its preparation, and in part because Lincoln provided a title and signed and dated this copy, it has become the standard version of the address and the source for most facsimile reproductions of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

 

This draft now hangs in the Lincoln Room of the White House, a gift of Oscar B. Cintas, former Cuban Ambassador to the United States. Cintas, a wealthy collector of art and manuscripts, purchased the Bliss Copy at a public auction in 1949 for $54,000, at that time the highest price ever paid for a document at public auction. Cintas' properties were claimed by the Castro government after the Cuban Revolution in 1959, but Cintas, who died in 1957, willed the Gettysburg Address to the American people, provided it would be kept at the White House, where it was transferred in 1959.

 

Garry Wills concluded the Bliss Copy "is stylistically preferable to others in one significant way: Lincoln removed 'here' from 'that cause for which they (here) gave...' The seventh 'here' is in all other versions of the speech." Wills noted the fact that Lincoln "was still making such improvements," suggesting Lincoln was more concerned with a perfected text than with an 'original' one.

 

Alexander Bliss Colonel United States Army

 

Alexander Bliss of Massachusetts

 

Died 30 April 1896 Buried in Section 1 of Arlington National Cemetery

The Address Delivered at the Dedication of the Cemetery at Gettysburg, or the "Gettysburg Address," is Lincoln's most famous speech.  He delivered the address on November 19, 1863, just four and one half months after the massive battle at the small Pennsylvania town.

 

Because it is perhaps Lincoln's most famous work and because it came to symbolize the American Civil War, it has often been reproduced in facsimile editions.

 

Only the following five copies of the Gettysburg Address are now extant:

  1. Nicolay Draft
  2. Hay Draft
  3. Bancroft Copy
  4. Everett Copy
  5. Bliss Copy
 
Bliss Copy

Images from Long Remembered: Facsimiles of the Five Versions of the Gettysburg Address in the Handwriting of Abraham Lincoln (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1963).

 

The Bliss Copy has been the source for most facsimile reproductions of the Gettysburg Address, because Lincoln provided a title and signed and dated this copy.  The following images are reproductions of the Bliss Copy of the Gettysburg Address, rearranged from three pages to two:

 

  
 

Images courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. 

 

For more information on reproductions, see the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency's page on Facsimile Documents.

 

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