The Patriot-News, a Harrisburg, Pa., newspaper, published a retraction Thursday for a 150-year-old editorial in which the paper called President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address “silly remarks.”
Seven score and ten years ago, the forefathers of this media institution brought forth to its audience a judgment so flawed, so tainted by hubris, so lacking in the perspective history would bring, that it cannot remain unaddressed in our archives.
We write today in reconsideration of “The Gettysburg Address,” delivered by then-President Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the greatest conflict seen on American soil. Our predecessors, perhaps under the influence of partisanship, or of strong drink, as was common in the profession at the time, called President Lincoln’s words “silly remarks,” deserving “a veil of oblivion,” apparently believing it an indifferent and altogether ordinary message, unremarkable in eloquence and uninspiring in its brevity.”
In 1863 The Patriot-News was called the The Patriot & Union and was a partisan Democratic newspaper whose editorials were often critical of Lincoln. “Just as the Gettysburg Address has become one of the most-read and most-quoted American political documents, the Patriot & Union “review” of it has become one of the most-quoted commentaries,” the paper said.