November 16th, 2013| Topic: RaMbLeS | 6


Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war ….”

So declaimed Abraham Lincoln, on the afternoon of November 19, a century-and-a-half ago, in 1863, at Gettysburg, where, just four odd months earlier, about 50,000 had lost their lives in the three-day Battle of Gettysburg.

Yesterday, there was another declaration:

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.”

That was in the Patriot-News from Harrisburg, the largest daily newspaper serving the capital of Pennsylvania. This institution traces its ancestry all the way back to the 1850s when it was The Patriot and Union. And that’s where our story begins.

There had been bad blood between aforementioned broadside and the administration of Abraham Lincoln, to which said paper was strongly opposed. Just a year before, four of the newspaper’s officials were imprisoned on charges of sedition by Lincoln’s General-in-Chief for something they had printed about the recruitment of black soldiers for the Union Army (the story turned out to be a hoax). In any case, the four were released after a couple of weeks.

So it was not just politics. It was personal, when four days after Lincoln’s famous address, the The Patriot and Union printed this:

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.”

And with those pejorative and dismissive words, The Patriot and Union won for itself a place in history, the fodder for countless readers in every generation who consider the mainstream media to be way off the mark and its spin-meisters as nothing but charlatans. The quote lives on as evidence that the media is unable to recognize history when it is being made right under their noses (or notebooks). It has become the most-cited commentary on one of the most-cited American political documents.

Well, the descendants of The Patriot and Union, Harrisburg’s Patriot-News, decided it was time to make amends. So yesterday, they continued:

In the fullness of time, we have come to a different conclusion. No mere utterance, then or now, could do justice to the soaring heights of language Mr. Lincoln reached that day. 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.”

And then the formal retraction:

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-News regrets the error.”

About time.

The Bible is clear that grudges and hurts, malice and spite, errors and offences between believers must be resolved as soon as possible.

“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar,
and there remember that your brother has something against you,
leave your offering there before the altar and go;
first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”
Matthew 5:23–24

Let’s not wait for 150 years!


  1. Eric November 17, 2013 at 6:11 am

    …forgiveness is a lot more easily said than done, to be sure. Responding to Jesus, the disciples exclaimed, “Increase our faith!” (…perhaps a polite way of saying “You must be kidding!”? :-))

    Forgiveness aside, it is also a reminder of how often our pride keeps us from really listening to consider if we may be wrong, then to take action to reconcile. May He be Lord in all that we do!

  2. marc November 16, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    Thank you for the message re forgivness. I am convinced by the words of a Christian writer–perhaps C.S. Lewis, though I can’t remember–who said that the
    Enemy’s greatest deception is convincing Christians that sharing and living Gospel message is neither important nor urgent.

    Forgiveness is an act that is both important and urgent, lest it turn a heart hard with bitterness.

    Thank you for the blessing, good sir.


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