The Five Copies
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The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. holds the two earliest copies of the manuscript. Lincoln may have written out one of these before he gave the address, and he probably wrote the second shortly after his return to Washington from Gettysburg on November 19, 1863. President Lincoln gave one of these copies to each of his two private secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay. After Nicolay’s death in 1901, his copy passed to his friend and colleague, John Hay. Descendants of John Hay donated both copies to the Library of Congress in 1916.

Scholars disagree over whether the Nicolay copy, referred to as the "first draft," was actually the reading copy Lincoln held at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863. Some believe that the delivery text has been lost, because some of the words and phrases of the Nicolay copy do not match contemporary transcriptions of Lincoln’s original speech. The words "under God," for example, are missing from the phrase "that this nation [under God] shall have a new birth of freedom...." Other word and punctuation variations also appear.

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Chicago Historical Society. Admission Voucher for the Chicago Historical Society's exhibition of five manuscript copies of the Gettysburg Address. 1950.
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A copy for a good cause
Never forget what they did here
Ideas are always more than battles