“Mr. Lincoln Delivered the Dedicatory Address:” The Global Reach of Gettysburg

ECW welcomes guest author Gerald Lefurgy

The oration by President Abraham Lincoln of his famed Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863, can be fairly said to have long been recognized as one of the most important speeches in world history. The Gettysburg Address has collected attention in the works of innumerable Lincoln historians and writers, each of whom has provided contribution to its meaning by either providing new arguments about it, or challenging existing ones. (1) While much has been written about how the speech and event both accumulated symbolic importance with the passage of time, the Gettysburg Address did not require posterity for the world to understand the significance of Lincoln’s words; newly discovered evidence indicates that its’ place in world history had become etched while Lincoln lived.

At the farthest reaches of the British Empire, in the self-governing colony of Victoria, Australia, there appeared and item in the January 25, 1864, copy of the, Melbourne Herald, amongst the American news section. It read: “The consecration of the Gettysburg battlefield as a national cemetery took place on 19th November. President Lincoln, Mr. Seward, the Hon. Edward Everett, and Governor Seymour, were present. Mr. Lincoln delivered the dedicatory address.”

Published little over two months after the Gettysburg dedication, the speed of publication of this information is astounding, to say the least. The average time in the era to journey from Britain to Australia was about three months. (2) As the international cable system linking the Australian colonies with the outside world was not set in place until 1872, the main way news of the outside world reached the Antipodes during the Civil War was by newspapers. Outbound ships from every global port carried stacks of these aboard. Upon arrival at destination, the newspapers would be hurried to the local news press where the contents would be combed for, information selected and printed into local papers. The process of gleaning and re-copying news information would be subsequently repeated by other copies. (3) Thus, the information which Australians had at hand about war-time America would be dated on average by about three to six months, but still highly accurate. (4) This seemingly nondescript passage in an Australian title is just three sentences long. And yet, its historical significance to the Civil War is as vast as the distance spanned. It is proof that the world paid attention when Abraham Lincoln defined democracy on a far distant field.

This Lincoln sculpture rests in front of Steven’s Hall on the campus of Gettysburg College. It was dedicated in 2015 and it depicts President Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation. This images was taken this winter in the frigid icy weather that has gripped the town. The sculpture was crafted by Stan Watts of Utah and the surrounding memorial was completed by Codori Memorials of Gettysburg. Photo by Chris E. Heisey.


Gerald Lefurgy is originally from Vancouver, Canada, and now resides in Sydney, Australia. Having been educated in both countries, he is affiliated with the Echoes Through Time Museum near Buffalo, New York. With many historical interests, Gerald enjoys researching and writing history, but finds the most enjoyment when assisting Living Historians. He is a fitness enthusiast and also enjoys sports, travel, socialising and enjoying time with his wife, Vanessa, and family.

(1) The author’s recommended ‘shortlist’ of works to begin engaging with Lincoln’s ‘Gettysburg Address’ include i) Garry Wills,  Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America, Touchstone: Simon & Schuster, 1992. ii) Edward Steers Jr.,  Lincoln Legends: Myths, Hoaxes & Confabulations Associated with Our Greatest President, University Press of Kentucky, 2011. iii) Carl Sandburg,  Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, Vol. II, Harcourt, Brace & Company, Inc., 1936.

(2) The journey from Britain to New South Wales of a Bishop and his wife was projected to take three months. See, ‘To Miss Rye’, January 18, 1862. National Library of Australia – Australian Joint Copying Project M468, 1862-1949/File 1/Letterbook of the Female Middle Class Emigration Society.
(3) Brisbane Courier, November 16, 1872 [Queensland]; ‘A Wire Through The Heart’: Constructing Australia Series. Darcy Yuille, Director. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2007. This production can be viewed free of charge on YouTube [Accessed June 28, 2023]; Tom Wheeler,  Mr. Lincoln’s T-Mails: The Untold Story of how Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to win the Civil War, HarperCollins, 2006, 94-102. The author has previously written of this 19th Century process in, “Respect Across The Bows: The Journalist & The General”, on the Abbeville Institute webpage [Accessed June 28, 2023].

(4) For example, the Sydney Morning Herald of New South Wales contained not only extensive coverage of the Battle of Fort Wagner, but actual battle reports. See October 30 1863, issue.

3 Responses to “Mr. Lincoln Delivered the Dedicatory Address:” The Global Reach of Gettysburg

  1. Gerald, Great post. Thank you. It’s good to hear from down under. While researching my book, “A Confederate Biography: The Cruise of the CSS Shenandoah,” I learned of the fascinating Shenandoah visit to Melbourne in January 1865, which caused a political firestorm in the city, pro and con. I reviewed the available newspaper articles based on imported papers six to eleven weeks old from east and west, New York and Richmond and San Francisco and London. The coverage, however, was far from accurate or even consistent. Rumors and speculation were jumbled with facts, then were repeated, excerpted, and summarized from papers of all political persuasions. Some items were not attributed at all. It was difficult to distinguish truth in these reports from wishful thinking, misconceptions, and bias. All parties read their preconceptions and preferences into them. The Shanandoah officers took the news as further encouragement of their cause. See Chapter 10 of the book for a thorough discussion of this issue. The visit was a microcosm of international and Australian issues related to the war.

    1. Sir-

      Having likewise studied the Shenandoah case extensively, I can appreciate the points you make of the newspapers, but I would have to put that the various points you make can as much be put to any primary sources.

      How often have I seen it in countless historical fields.

      I’m not saying you’re necessarily wrong and I’d be the first to read your book. I just wish to point out the critiques you cite are true of sky primary source.

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