The Free Press, Mankato, MN


November 17, 2013

150 years later, world still notes Lincoln's famous address


Not everyone embraced Lincoln’s vision, then or now. Oramel Barrett, owner and editor of the Harrisburg Daily Patriot and Union newspaper, published the following remarks on Nov. 24, 1863, in response to Lincoln’s address at Gettysburg:

We have read the little speeches [sic] of President Lincoln … delivered on the occasion of dedicating the national Cemetery, a plot of ground set apart for the burial of the dead who fell at Gettysburg … He acted naturally, without sense and without constraint, in a panorama which was gotten up more for his benefit and the benefit of his party than for the glory of the nation and the honor of the dead … 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.

It should be noted that Barrett, a staunch Democrat, had made up his mind years earlier that Lincoln (Republican) was a fool; Barrett did not actually attend the cemetery dedication. On the other hand, Edward Everett, the chief orator of the occasion, who listened to every word Lincoln spoke as well as being witness to the audience’s response, wrote Lincoln a follow-up letter in which he stated:

“I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”

The judgment of history has favored Everett’s view of the president’s remarks.

Now, 150 years later, the Gettysburg Address is regarded as one of the finest expressions of the English language, and has been described as the final formulation of the American ideal.

The world did note and has long remembered what was said and what Lincoln did there.

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