American history has some big birthdays in 2013. Both Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and his Gettysburg Address are 150 years old.
Both of these documents play a major role in the Spielberg film Lincoln. The plot revolves around Lincoln’s struggle to have the Emancipation Proclamation ratified by Congress, and the movie opens with two black soldiers reciting for their president the words of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., has placed Lincoln’s own handwritten first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation on public display for the first time in six years. You’ll be able to view it through February 18. Find more details here.
The Library of Congress also houses two of the five known drafts of the Gettysburg Address that Lincoln hand-wrote. The other three are scattered. One is in the White House, another is in the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, and a third is at Cornell University. But you can see full-size, full-color facsimiles of all five versions of the Gettysburg Address in the Levenger Press book Long Remembered: Lincoln and His Five Versions of the Gettysburg Address.
In addition to what’s bound in the book, two of the versions of the Gettysburg Address –those that the Library of Congress owns—are reproduced as loose sheets and folded as Lincoln folded them. They are the closest you can come to holding this American history in your hands.