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Even Lincoln's Gettysburg Address Got Criticized

November 19, 2013 marked the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address." According to a 2013 editorial in The New York Times, this brief (272 words or two-minute) speech still has the power to "do what words are rarely able to do: invoke an eloquent silence." The same article adds, "There is an overpowering immediacy in these plain words."

At the time of the speech, the majority of newspapers praised it, but just to prove you really can't please all the people all the time, this powerful speech received negative reviews. The Harrisburg Patriot derided Lincoln's address by referring to his "silly remarks." (The paper has since retracted their criticism of the Gettysburg Address.) Other newspapers didn't live to retract their words. The New York World accused Lincoln of "gross ignorance or willful misstatement" with his declaration of "four score and seven years ago." The Democratic-leaning Chicago Times observed, "The cheek of every American must tingle 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." Foreign newspapers also criticized Lincoln's remarks. The Times of London commented: "The ceremony [at Gettysburg] was rendered ludicrous by some of the sallies of that poor President Lincoln."

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