UPDATE: The “Learn the Address” website notes that “We asked President Obama to read … the ‘Nicolay Version’” of the Gettsyburg Address, which omits the words “under God.” That disclosure does not appear alongside Obama’s video on the site.
Additionally, a November 15, 2013 cached version of the site does not show that disclosure. WETA, which runs the “Learn the Address” project, has not yet responded to The Daily Caller’s request for comment.
ORIGINAL REPORT BELOW:
President Obama opted to leave out the words “under God” in his rendition of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address filmed for a website put together by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.
It’s a curious omission, particularly because, according to eyewitnesses, Lincoln is said to have used the words “under God” when he delivered the address on November 19, 1863 — 150 years ago Tuesday.
There are five widely-accepted handwritten drafts of the Gettysburg Address: the Bliss Copy, the Nicolay Copy, the Hay Copy, the Everett Copy and the Bancroft Copy — each named for the people who first received them, according to Abraham Lincoln Online.
Three of those drafts — Bliss, Everett and Bancroft — include the words “under God” in the speech’s final sentence.
But the other two drafts — Nicolay and Hay — are thought to be the only two from which Lincoln would have read from that autumn day.
In his YouTube video, Obama reads the Nicolay Copy.
“It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us,” Obama recites, “that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
But the draft most often taught to American school children — and listed on Ken Burns’ website as the preferred draft for the video project — is the Bliss Copy:
“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Historians do believe that Lincoln honed the address in later drafts after he delivered it, but there is little disagreement about whether Lincoln uttered the words “under God” when he spoke at Gettysburg.
“Every stenographic report, good, bad and indifferent, says ‘that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom,’” wrote historian William E. Barton. “There was no common source from which all the reporters could have obtained those words but from Lincoln’s own lips at the time of delivery.”
The White House did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller’s request for comment.
Will Rahn contributed to this report.