I just agreed to pay for a fascinating new service of The Phladelphia Inquirer. They’ve scanned and placed online all of their newspapers from the Civil War, and the coverage is wonderful.
But keep in mind, without tape recorders or digital video, the reporters of the 1860s had to write fast, and only occasionally had help from stenographers taking shorthand.
The report. Here is how The Inquirer reported, on Nov. 20, 1863, the last sentence of President Lincoln’s Nov. 19 Gettysburg Address (The text probably was sent to Philadelphia by telegraph):
"We owe this offering to our dead; we imbibe increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion; we here might resolve that they shall not have died in vain, that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom, and that the Government of the people, for the people, and for all people, shall not perish from earth."
Original. Here is that sentence from Lincoln’s own handwritten copy:
"It is rather for us the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us--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 that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this 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."
Compare the two versions. There are major differences, among which the "of the people, by the people, for the people" became "of the people, for the people, and for all people." And "under God" is in The Inquirer, but not in Lincoln’s copy.
It’s possible that Lincoln slightly amended the version of the speech that sits in the National Archives, or that he changed a few words as he spoke. But it’s also likely that The Inquirer reporter just couldn’t write fast enough to catch every word.