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Newspaper retracts 1863 editorial that panned Gettysburg Address as 'silly'

A section of The Harrisburg Patriot & Union's Nov. 24, 1863, edition. PennLive.com via AP

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.

"The Patriot-News regrets the error."

An undated illustration depicting President Abraham Lincoln making his Nov. 19, 1863 Gettysburg Address, which took place at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery on the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pa. AP, file

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.