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A US paper that called the 1863 Gettysburg address 'silly' has issued a retraction

On President Lincoln’s iconic speech, The Patriot-News of Harrisburg said yesterday that, “In the fullness of time, we have come to a different conclusion”.

Image: AP Photo/PennLive.com

A US NEWSPAPER has issued a retraction for an editorial written 150 years ago dismissing President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address.

The Patriot-News of Harrisburg said yesterday that, “In the fullness of time, we have come to a different conclusion.”

The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, located  about 35 miles northeast of Gettysburg, issued its retraction for the editorial penned by its Civil War-era predecessor, The Harrisburg Patriot & Union.

The president’s speech is now considered a triumph of American oratory, a fact the paper now recognise:

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.

The retraction, which echoes Lincoln’s now-familiar language, said the newspaper’s November 1863 coverage was wrong when it described the speech as “silly remarks” that deserved a “veil of oblivion.”


The 24 November 1863 edition of The Harrisburg Patriot and Union. Pic: (AP Photo/PennLive.com)

The paper now says it regrets the error of not seeing its “momentous importance, timeless eloquence and lasting significance”:

By today’s words alone, we cannot exalt, we cannot hallow, we cannot venerate this sacred text, for a grateful nation long ago came to view those words with reverence, without guidance from this chagrined member of the mainstream media,” the paper wrote, echoing the words of the address.

Separately, the paper also recounted how it covered the dedication of the national cemetery, nearly five months after the pivotal battle in which federal forces repelled a Confederate Army advance from Virginia into Pennsylvania. More than 3,500 Union soldiers killed in the battle are buried there.

During the Civil War, the Patriot & Union was a Democratic newspaper that was staunchly opposed to Lincoln.

An event to remember the 150th anniversary of the speech is scheduled for Tuesday in Gettysburg.

Additional reporting by Rónán Duffy

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