National Museum of American History to Display Gettysburg Address from White House Collection

November 17, 2008
News Release

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will celebrate its grand reopening with a special display of the Gettysburg Address. This copy of the Gettysburg Address is on loan from the White House collection for limited public viewing through the generosity of First Lady Laura Bush. The document will be on view in the museum’s new Albert H. Small Documents Gallery from Nov. 21 through Jan. 4, 2009.

Written in March 1864 for an anthology to raise funds for the Union, it was kept by one of the book’s publishers, Alexander Bliss, and was auctioned in 1949. Oscar Cintas, a former Cuban ambassador to the United States, purchased it and on his death in 1957, he asked that it be placed in the White House collection. The manuscript is one of five drafts and the last to be written by Lincoln’s hand. The manuscript has been displayed on a desk in the Lincoln bedroom.

The Gettysburg Address, which President Lincoln delivered Nov. 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pa., honored the Union soldiers who had died during the Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3, 1863. The 270-word speech has become one of the most famous ever to be written by an American president.

“We are honored to be able to share this rarely seen historically significant document with the public,” said Brent D. Glass, director of the museum. “It is important for our visitors to view the Gettysburg Address and reflect upon the impact it had and continues to have on our country.”

Lincoln Exhibitions in 2009
In 2009, the museum will commemorate the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth with two special exhibitions. “Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life” brings together for the first time the museum’s unique and unparalleled Lincoln collection. Through a selection of Lincoln artifacts, visitors will have the opportunity to explore the life and times of the extraordinary figure. The exhibition will showcase more than 60 objects, and it will be on view from Jan. 16, 2009, to January 2011.

The second exhibition, “America’s New Birth of Freedom,” will display 10 rare documents on loan from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. Visitors can see a signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation and letters handwritten by Lincoln expressing his views of the Civil War. The exhibition will be on display Jan. 16, 2009, through March 22, 2009.

About the Museum
The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. After a two-year renovation and a dramatic transformation, the museum will shed new light on American history, both in Washington and online. A grand-reopening festival takes place Friday, Nov. 21, through Sunday, Nov. 23. To learn more about the museum and its renovation, visit For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000, (202) 633-5285 (TTY).

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