On This Day

November 19, 1863

Pres. Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address.

 

But the famous speech would not have happened without this one man whose name isn’t as well known.

On This Day

“It will be a source of great gratification to the many widows and orphans that have been made almost friendless by the Great Battle here, to have you here personally.”

Gettysburg Attorney David Wills who wrote a letter to President Abraham Lincoln on November 2, inviting him to speak at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery on November 19.
On This Day

David Wills

32-years-old when the Civil War battle raged between Union & Confederate soldiers.

Helped care for those injured, clear the battlefield of dead, communicate with families looking for missing relatives.

One of the main forces behind purchasing 17 acres for a cemetery to honor the fallen.

On This Day

The Battle of Gettysburg

  • Brutal battle: July 1-3, 1863
  • 100,000+ Americans fought; 1 in 5 killed, wounded or missing.
  • Union soldiers pushed back Confederates, the victory arguably a tipping point in the war.
  • It took nearly another 2 years of fighting until the South officially surrendered.
On This Day

David Wills' home is still standing in Gettysburg, PA. You can visit the room where Pres. Lincoln slept the night before he delivered the Gettysburg Address. Re-read the whole speech on our source page.

view sources

Read

Sources

  • David Wills to Abraham Lincoln, Monday, November 02, 1863
    https://www.loc.gov/resource/mal.2778100/?sp=1&st=text
  • Today in History – November 19
    https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/november-19/
  • Wills House
    http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/sites/wills.htm
  • David Wills House
    https://www.nps.gov/gett/planyourvisit/david-wills-house.htm