Pennsylvania newspaper retracts 1863 Gettysburg editorial

Friday 15 November 2013 16.21
Corpses lying on the battlefield at Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, after the bloodiest battle of America's Civil war, in which nearly 6,000 soldiers died in three days of fighting
Corpses lying on the battlefield at Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, after the bloodiest battle of America's Civil war, in which nearly 6,000 soldiers died in three days of fighting

A Pennsylvania newspaper has retracted an 1863 editorial that dismissed US President Abraham Lincoln's now revered Gettysburg Address delivered during the US Civil War.

The editorial, published on 24 November 1863, had described the address as "silly remarks" deserving a "veil of oblivion".

It missed the "momentous importance, timeless eloquence, and lasting significance" of Lincoln's speech delivered days earlier, The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, said on its website.

Lincoln's brief address delivered at the dedication of a national cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, has grown to become one of the best known speeches in US history.

The 150th anniversary of the address will be observed next week.

"Our predecessors, perhaps under the influence of partisanship, or of strong drink, as was common in the profession at the time, called President Lincoln's words 'silly remarks', deserving 'a veil of oblivion'," the newspaper said.

"The Patriot-News regrets the error."

The battle at Gettysburg months before on 1-3 July 1863 is regarded as a turning point in the Civil War.

The Civil War was the bloodiest war in American history that preserved the United States as a single country and led to the abolition of slavery.

The Patriot & Union, as the newspaper was formerly named, dismissed Lincoln's words as a political overture.

"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," the editorial read.

Harrisburg is about 64km northeast of Gettysburg.