Paper retracts Lincoln editorial after 150yrs

2013-11-15 14:38
Abraham Lincoln. (File, AFP)

Abraham Lincoln. (File, AFP)

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Washington - A US newspaper took the rare step on Thursday of retracting an editorial, 150 years after it was published and long after the speech it criticised has been immortalised as one of the best in US history.

The Harrisburg (Pennsylvania) Patriot-News apologised for calling President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address "silly remarks," dismissing the earlier editorial as coming from "the influence of partisanship, or of strong drink".

Lincoln's speech at a dedication for a soldiers' cemetery in the small Pennsylvania town captured in just a few words the spirit of the nation and the importance of the three-day Civil War battle in upholding the ideals of a country founded 87 years before.

He concluded that the war would mark "a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth".

The brief remarks are among the most often quoted US speeches and are routinely memorised in US schools.

Mimicking the style of the speech, the newspaper wrote: "Seven score and ten years ago, the forefathers of this media institution brought forth to its audience a judgement so flawed, so tainted by hubris, so lacking in the perspective history would bring, that it cannot remain unaddressed in our archives".

A "score" is 20 years.

The July 1863 battle marked the Confederacy's furthest inroad into northern territory, and though the war would drag on for two more years, southern troops would never regain their momentum.

Harrisburg had been the main goal of their northward push, but they were stopped just 70km short in Gettysburg.

The US national park at the battlefield is marking the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's address on Tuesday.

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