HARRISBURG, PA – Seven score and ten years ago, president Abraham Lincoln brought forth on the battlefield of Gettysburg a new speech, containing just 273 words, written in his own hand, and finished just before he arrived from Washington.
The country was engaged in the great Civil War, and the president was on hand to help dedicate the Soldier’s National Cemetery on the spot where so many struggled and died to consecrate what we now know as hallowed ground.
Lincoln was the second speaker of the day and may have been in the early stages of smallpox when he delivered the lines we learned in school, about this nation, under God, and a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
But apparently history was kinder to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address than the snarky anti-Lincoln editors of the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
They called Lincoln’s remarks “silly”, and hoped that the veil of oblivion would settle over them so no one would ever remember them.
The current editors have now printed a retraction , a century-and-a-half late.
However, the editors may have been right on one point, a message they could have written today, when they urged the nation’s leaders to “renounce partisanship with patriotism and to save the country from the misery and desolation, which, under their present policy is inevitable.”