In Lincoln’s hand

There are five copies of the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln’s handwriting. Each of these manuscripts is named for the person who received it from Lincoln and each is slightly different in its wording and punctuation.

Lincoln gave a copy to each of his two secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay. The Nicolay Copy is known as the “First Draft.” The first page was written in ink in Washington sometime before November 18, and the second page was written in pencil sometime later, possibly in Gettysburg at David Wills’s home. The Hay Copy or “Second Draft” represents Lincoln’s first revision of the Address. It is presumed, but not known whether one of these drafts is the manuscript that Lincoln read from in Gettysburg. Both of these documents are now at the Library of Congress.

The other three copies of the Address were written out by Lincoln in February and March of 1864 for charitable causes supporting Union soldiers. Edward Everett requested a copy for the Metropolitan Fair in New York. The Everett Copy is now at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois.

Historian George Bancroft made a similar request to benefit the Baltimore Sanitary Fair. His stepson, Alexander Bliss, was collecting manuscripts for a book that was to be sold at the Fair. The Bancroft Copy—the copy at Cornell—proved to be unsuitable for use in Autograph Leaves of Our Country’s Authors and Bliss and his colleague, John Pendleton Kennedy, were compelled to write Lincoln to request another copy of the Address for their book.

Lincoln complied and wrote the fifth and final copy of his speech—the Bliss Copy—in early March of 1864. It is the only copy of the Gettysburg Address that includes a title—“Address delivered at the dedication of the Cemetery at Gettysburg”—a date, and his full signature. It is now in the Lincoln Bedroom at the White House.

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