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Drafting the Gettysburg Address



  • Arts & Humanities
  • Ed. & Technology
  • Social Sciences


  • 6-8
  • 9-12

Brief Description

Students compare and contrast Abraham Lincoln's drafts and final version of the Gettysburg Address.


Students explain the differences between the final version and drafts of the Gettysburg Address. Students work together in cooperative groups.


Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, draft, speech

Materials Needed

  • computers with Internet access
  • printer
  • paper
  • pens or pencils
  • dictionary

Lesson Plan

Prior to lesson: Print out copies of the Gettysburg Address and drafts, available online at the following links:

  • The Gettysburg Address
  • Transcript of the Nicolay Draft of the Gettysburg Address
  • Transcript of the Hay Draft of the Gettysburg Address

    Introduction: Ask students what steps they take to organize their thoughts or ideas when they write a story. Explain that when many people write, they put their ideas on paper as a draft.

    Tell students that before President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address, he wrote drafts of what he wanted to say.

    Read to students the background information about the drafts of the Gettysburg Address available online at The Gettysburg Address: Exhibit Objects.

    Divide the class into small groups. Distribute the copies of the drafts and final version of the Gettysburg Address. Have students list differences between the drafts and the final version of the speech.

    Have student groups view copies of the drafts in Lincoln's handwriting, an image of the image of the "Nicolay Draft" of the Gettysburg Address, and an image of the "Hay Draft" of the Gettysburg Address at Gettysburg Address: Exhibit Objects. (If the entire class does not have Internet access, display resources on an overhead screen, or the student groups might share printouts of the pages.)


    Have students read and discuss their lists. Ask students to speculate reasons for the changes. As a follow-up, have students look up the definitions of the following terms in the first paragraph of the address: four score, continent, dedicated, proposition. Have students rewrite the first paragraph of the address using synonyms for the words.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    Submitted By

    Lois Lewis

    National Standards

    Social Sciences:

    Language Arts: