Odds this was unintentional hovering around zero percent.

WASHINGTON — One nation under God?  Under President Obama, maybe not so much.

In advance of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, which President Abraham Lincoln delivered on November 19, 1863, filmmaker Ken Burns gathered every living President, along with several prominent members of Congress, celebrities and news media stars to deliver the address themselves.  Burns edited the individual speeches into one final mashup that is available on the site, but he also provided the complete speech as delivered by each individual dignitary.

Curiously enough, in his version of the speech, President Barack Obama’s delivery contained an omission – in a line that every other celebrity delivered as “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom” (click here for proof of that), the President left out the words “under God.”

You can see the President’s reading of the Gettysburg speech here –  his omission at the 1:35 mark.


Obama’s reading has so many variations from the Address with which we are familiar because Obama was apparently reading from a draft copy, commonly known as the “Nicolay copy” which was a copy of the speech primarily written in Washington before Lincoln left for Gettysburg. But Lincoln made further changes in pencil after that, and other copies emerged. Lincoln wrote more than one draft before he delivered the final speech. At least part of the Nicolay copy is likely inaccurate as eyewitnesses and reporters who were on scene at the time, telegraphed out that the word “God” was in fact in the reading.

The copy that we have come to know and recognize is known as the “Bliss Copy” which Robert Todd Lincoln, Lincoln’s son, said was the version Lincoln endorsed.
It is the last known copy written and signed and dated by him. This version is in the Lincoln room at the White House and on the walls of the Lincoln Memorial. It includes the words “under God.”

Update: Ken Burns is a flaming liberal, doesn’t surprise me he picked the draft copy that omitted “God.” Why didn’t he give Obama the exact words Lincoln used?

Via CBS News:

President Obama irked some conservatives with his recitation of the Gettysburg Address, which he read aloud as part of a project celebrating the 150th anniversary of famous Lincoln speech.

For the project, spearheaded by documentarian Ken Burns, a number of politicians and other high-profile people recorded themselves reading the Gettysburg Address.

Some conservatives took offense to the president’s reading.

“Lincoln added ‘Under God’ as he was looking out over battlefield. why would Obama remove?” Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Twitter.

White House spokesman Jay Carney on Tuesday gave a simple explanation for the reading.

“He read the version of the address that Ken Burns provided,” he said, noting that Burns is a “noted Civil War scholar.”

Specifically, Carney said that Burns gave Mr. Obama the “Nicolay copy” of the Gettysburg Address — the first draft of the speech, named after John Nicolay, the White House staffer who preserved it.


Just as an aside, it should be noted the AP, which has been in existence since 1846, had a reporter there and that reporter (as well as others) appears to have reported the same speech as the Bliss copy with “under God” being used.