Pennsylvania Newspaper Retracts Bad Review of Gettysburg Address–From 1863

150 years later

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In what may be longest-coming newspaper retraction in American history, the Patriot News, based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has apologized for slamming President Abraham Lincoln’s address at Gettysburg a century and a half ago.

“Seven score and ten years ago, 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 wrote in an editorial Thursday.

Back in 1863, the president made a stop in nearby Gettysburg to give a little talk asking that a government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth. Unimpressed, the Harrisburg Patriot & Union, wrote in response, “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.”

Remember kids: it’s never too late to say you’re sorry.

[Patriot News]


Isn't it also possible that, having had ample time to reflect, the newspaper staff decided that the president's words were not silly after all?  I doubt if anyone was putting much political pressure on the Patriot News to retract something it published 150 years ago.

Alternatively, the assertion that the Gettysburg Address "shall be no more repeated or thought of" could also be considered an error, since in fact, it's been repeated and thought of quite a few times since then.


Wikipedia gives 5 reasons for retraction:

1) Retraction in science
2) Retraction for error
3) Retraction for fraud or misconduct
4) Retraction for possible fraud or misconduct (investigation ongoing)
5) Retraction for political reasons

An honest review of a first-person witness can not be retracted for science, error, fraud or misconduct, so the retraction must be for political reasons.  But why should I be surprised when we live in an age of political factions where facts and reason are almost irrelevant.