November 15, 2013 / 7:44 AM / 4 years ago

Pennsylvania paper retracts editorial panning Gettysburg Address

The Lincoln Memorial is pictured devoid of tourists in Washington, October 1, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

(Reuters) - A Pennsylvania newspaper on Thursday retracted an 1863 editorial that dismissed President Abraham Lincoln’s now revered Gettysburg Address delivered during the U.S. Civil War as “silly remarks” deserving a “veil of oblivion.”

The editorial published on November 24, 1863, 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 U.S. history. The 150th anniversary of the address will be observed on Tuesday.

“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.

A line from Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" is displayed at the Lincoln Memorial ahead of celebrations commemorating the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth in Washington February 11, 2009. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

“The Patriot-News regrets the error.”

The battle at Gettysburg months before on July 1-3, 1863, is regarded as a turning point in the Civil War, 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 40 miles northeast of Gettysburg.

Reporting by Eric M. Johnson; editing by David Bailey and Tom Pfeiffer

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