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Library of Congress displays Gettysburg Address for six weeks
Hall Frost (2nd R) of Clarksville, Arkansas, looks at the John Hay copy of the Gettysburg Address which is on display for six weeks in the "Civil War in America" exhibition at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The John Hay copy is one of the five known manuscript drafts of the address which Abraham Lincoln delivered at the dedication of a national cemetery at the Gettysburg battlefield on November 19, 1863. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP.

WASHINGTON, DC.- The Library of Congress is displaying the John Hay copy of the Gettysburg Address for six weeks, from March 22 to May 4, in its "Civil War in America" exhibition. The Library also will extend the exhibition from its original closing date of June 1, 2013 to Jan. 4, 2014.

The "Civil War in America" exhibition, in the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C., is free and open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

The Gettysburg Address, which Abraham Lincoln delivered at the dedication of a national cemetery at the Gettysburg battlefield on Nov. 19, 1863, is recognized as a literary masterpiece. In three short paragraphs—some 270 words—Lincoln proclaimed the principles upon which the nation was founded, honored the men who had given "the last full measure of devotion" in its defense, and challenged all citizens to a renewed commitment to freedom and democracy.

The John Hay copy of the address, on display in the Civil War exhibition on view through Saturday, May 4, is one of five known manuscript drafts. The Hay copy is considered the second draft, made by Lincoln shortly after his return to Washington from Gettysburg. Lincoln gave the copy to Hay, one of his two secretaries. His other secretary was John Nicolay, and the presumed first draft is known as the Nicolay copy. Hay’s descendants donated both the Hay and the Nicolay copies to the Library of Congress in 1916.

The other surviving drafts, the so-called Everett, Bancroft and Bliss copies, were made for charitable purposes the spring of 1864. These copies are now held by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the Cornell University Library and the White House, respectively.

The Library of Congress opened the "The Civil War in America" on Nov. 12, 2012, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. It features more than 200 unique items that reveal the complexity of the Civil War through those who experienced it firsthand. Through diaries, letters, maps, song sheets, newspapers and broadsides, photographs, drawings and unusual artifacts, the exhibition chronicles the sacrifices and accomplishments of those—from both the North and South—whose lives were lost or affected by the events of 1861-1865.

The exhibition, originally scheduled to close on June 1, 2013, will be extended through Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. In June, more than 200 new artifacts will go on display in the exhibition, replacing existing items and providing the public with the opportunity to view additional materials from the Library’s unparalleled Civil War collections.

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