The 150th anniversary of the “flat failure” Gettysburg Address

Abe-Lincoln

On this day, Abraham Lincoln delivered what is considered to be one of the greatest speeches in American history. So what if the Chicago Times said:

The cheek of every American must tinge with shame as he reads the silly flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States.

As the essay “Lincoln’s “Flat Failure”: The Gettysburg Myth Revisited” written by Harold Holzer  also points out:

The most stubborn of all the Gettysburg myths is the resilient legend that holds that the speech was poorly received when Lincoln delivered it—that, at best, only a few enthusiasts appreciated it, while most eyewitnesses did not. Such conclusions are inherently suspicious. In truth, eyewitnesses to Gettysburg disagreed about almost everything to do with Lincoln’s appearance there, even the weather.

The essay is a fantastic read and I highly recommend you honor this great speech by reading the essay.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a  new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men  are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any  nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great  battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a  final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might  live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not  hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have  consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will  little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what  they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the  unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It  is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us —  that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for  which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve  that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall  have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people,  for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln November 19, 1863

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