Harrisburg Patriot-News retracts criticism of Gettysburg Address, 150 years later

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, November 15, 2013

It only took 150 years, but a Pennsylvania newspaper has finally issued a retraction on an opinion piece it published panning Abraham Lincoln’s infamous “Gettysburg Address.”

The Harrisburg Patriot-News Editorial Board issued the retraction Thursday, writing that “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 paper’s retraction comes just days before the 150th anniversary of the speech. There will be a special commemorative ceremony on Tuesday to mark the anniversary in Gettysburg, which is located about 40 miles southwest of Harrisburg.

“In the editorial about President Abraham Lincoln’s speech delivered Nov. 19, 1863, in Gettysburg, the Patriot & Union failed to recognize its momentous importance, timeless eloquence, and lasting significance. The Patriot-Newsregrets the error,” the board writes.

“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 editorial was originally published by The Patriot & Union, the Patriot-News’ Civil War-era predecessor. The paper was staunchly Democratic and, according to the Patriot-News, hated Lincoln as four of its managers were arrested the year before and imprisoned without a hearing on charges of sedition.

The retraction also discussed how the Patriot & Union had covered the dedication of the national cemetery at Gettysburg, an event that took place nearly five months after the pivotal battle that halted the Confederate Army’s northward march from Virginia into Pennsylvania. More than 3,500 Union soldiers killed in the battle are buried in the cemetery.

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