The Patriot-News Called the Gettysburg Address “Silly” in 1863
Now issuing a retraction, 150 years later.
This is what the editors of the Harrisburg Patriot & Union–now the Patriot-News–wrote about Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, five days after the fact.
We will not include in this category of heartless men the orator of the day; but evidently he was paralyzed by the knowledge that he was surrounded by unfeeling, mercenary men, ready to sacrifice their country and the liberties of their countrymen for the base purpose of retaining power and accumulating wealth. [His] oration was therefore cold, insipid, unworthy the occasion and the man. We pass over the silly remarks of the President. For the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall be no more repeated or thought of.
Whoops. Like any respectable broadsheet, they covered the event at the time. But the editorial board–solidly Democratic, anti-war, and anti-Lincoln–thought Lincoln’s speech was the worst of the day and decided to omit its contents. OR, knowing it would go down as one of the most famous orations in American history, shrewdly denied their readers the opportunity to read the great speech and be swayed to Lincoln’s cause. (This is just my pet theory, though.)
Either way, the Patriot-News is finally owning up to the blooper: “In the editorial about President Abraham Lincoln’s speech delivered Nov. 19, 1863, in Gettysburg, the Patriot & Union failed to recognize its momentous importance, timeless eloquence, and lasting significance. The Patriot-News regrets the error.”
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