U.S. History: Civil War- The Gettysburg Address

This lesson focuses on the drafting of the Gettysburg Address in Pennsylvania, November 1863. Students will analyze a historical document and draw conclusions about what this document was for, who created it, and why. Students will compare the two drafts to each other and discuss the significance of differences in wording. Students will then read the standard version which is inscribed in the Lincoln Memorial.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
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Learning objectives: 

The learner will:

  • Examine documents as primary sources;
  • Analyze and compare drafts;
  • Describe the significance of changes to the document’s text

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 
  • Have students write a response to the Gettysburg Address. Writing prompt—If you had been in the crowd that day, how would you have felt? Are those feelings different than the ones you have now—looking back over 150 years later?
  • View the video, 273 Words to a New America.
  • For one reaction to the speech, read Edward Everett to Abraham Lincoln [November 20, 1863].
  • And for a lighter approach, view this “Kindergarten Cop” Gettysburg Address scene.

Helpful Hints


  • Nicolay Copy of Gettysburg Address
  • "Hay Draft" of Gettysburg Address
  • Standard Copy Inscribed at Lincoln Memorial
  • The Gettysburg Address: Making Comparisons handout
  • Teacher’s copy of The Gettysburg Address: Making Comparisons handout
  • The Gettysburg Address
  • Primary Documents in American History: Gettysburg Address
  • The Civil War In America: November 1863 – April 1865