Today in History, November 19th

11/19/2017

4 Score and 4 Trivia Questions about the Gettysburg Address

President Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address on November 19th, 1863. It’s widely regarded as one of the famous speeches in history, but how much do you know about it? Try your hand at these four trivia questions about 272 words that proved a speech doesn’t have to be long to be memorable…

Who Wrote the Speech for Lincoln?

Rather than vilify the Confederacy after the battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln chose a more inclusionary tone for his speech. Photo credit: Greg Goebel/Flickr.

Today, whenever a president gives a speech, you know that it has been written by a professional speechwriter – someone who actually studied the art of public speaking and knows the mechanics of delivering a great speech. But in 1863, things were done a little differently. It was, in fact, Abraham Lincoln himself who wrote the Gettysburg Address – every word of it. He finished the speech the night before he gave it and spoke from the heart. That’s why it is still so powerful today.

Why Is This Speech So Famous?

Lincoln came out the night before his speech and told a few jokes to a crowd of several hundred people.

Lincoln could have made the speech all about defeating the South and winning the war, but he did not. Instead, he geared the speech toward keeping the country together, working together, healing rifts, and honoring the democratic intent of the country’s Founding Fathers. This was not a bitter speech, nor did it try to stir up anger or fear. It would have been very easy for Lincoln to go the emotional button-pressing route, but he took a more inclusionary path, reminding people that the war was not being fought to vanquish an enemy, but to hold together a country that was started with such promise.

What Was the Original Purpose of the Speech?

Lincoln’s speech was really supposed to be a short address that was more of an afterthought than anything else. The ceremony’s star guest was famed speaker Edward Everett, who spoke for two hours. Lincoln did plan out what he would say (the legend that he wrote it on the fly was just that, a legend), but his invitation was a last-minute decision, and he was supposed to be there more for moral support than anything else. Lincoln’s intent in the speech was to remind people of how important this war was to the country and to try to keep morale up after such a devastating battle. Instead, the short speech gradually gained a reputation for being one of the most eloquent examples of patriotism and devotion to the ideals of democracy.

What Newspaper Retracted the Poor Review it originally gave the Gettysburg Address 150 Years Later?

NPR did a tongue-in-cheek story about the paper’s retraction, including an interview with the Opinion Page editor.

At the time, newspapers made no bones about which side they supported. The Patriot-Union, a Pennsylvania newspaper, dismissed the president’s remarks as “silly” and wrote, “For the credit of the nation, we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that there shall be no more repeated or thought of.” At the 150 year anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, in 2013, the same newspaper, now known as the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, issued a retraction which read, “Seven score and ten years ago, the forefathers of this media institution brought forth to his 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.”

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Today in History ~October 9th

Today in History – October 9

October 9

On October 9, 1701, the colonial legislature of Connecticut chartered the Collegiate School in Saybrook to educate students for “Publick employment both in Church & Civil State.” Originally based at the house of the first rector in Killingworth, the school moved to New Haven in 1716, and in 1718 was renamed Yale College to honor its early benefactor, the merchant Elihu Yale.
Osborn Hall, Yale University, New Haven, Conn. [between 1900 and 1915]. Detroit Publishing Company. Prints & Photographs Division

Yale graduates were influential in the American Revolution. Lyman Hall, Philip Livingston, Lewis Morris, and Oliver Wolcott signed the Declaration of Independence. Twenty-five Yale men served in the Continental Congress and the patriots Nathan Hale and Noah Webster also were among its graduates.

Yale evolved into a university in the late 1700s to mid-1800s when its original liberal arts curriculum expanded to include graduate and professional education. Among Yale’s most prestigious schools are those of divinity, medicine, law, and art. The first doctoral degrees earned in the United States were awarded by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1861.
In 1832, the Yale University Art Gallery became the first American college art museum. Built with funds from the Connecticut legislature, the gallery housed a series of American Revolutionary War paintings donated by Colonel John Trumbull. Also associated with Yale are the Yale Center for British Art , the Peabody Museum of Natural History, and Yale University Press , one of the nation’s most distinguished university publishing houses.

Yale has had other notable nineteenth-century firsts. These include the first collegiate rowing races, held in 1843, and the first intercollegiate game of modern baseball in 1865. In 1861 Yale became the first U.S. university to award a PhD in philosophy. The Yale Daily News, the oldest college daily newspaper, was founded in 1878.

Notable Yale graduates include: presidents William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton; inventor Samuel F. B. Morse; Dr. Benjamin Spock, and statesman John C. Calhoun. In 1781, Yale University conferred the honorary degree of “Doctorate in Laws” on George Washington. Search on Yale in the collection George Washington Papers to view the correspondence of Ezra Stiles, president of the university, with George Washington.

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Quote of the Day for Tuesday 

Body and soul, let’s all go / transformed into arrows! / Piercing the air / body and soul, let’s go / with no turning back. 


Ko Un

August 15, 1982: On this day, Ko Un was released from prison under a general amnesty. The former Buddhist monk, who had been given a life sentence for resisting the South Korean military dictatorship, went on to become one of the most acclaimed poets in Korea. 

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Love Of Words’ Quote of the Day for Tuesday 

A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. 


•Robert Frost

August 1, 1915: Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken was first published in the Atlantic Monthly 102 years ago today. While the poem works as a metaphor for the weight we put on turning points in our lives, Frost later insisted the verses were simply inspired by a literal walk in the woods.

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Happy Saturday! Here’s July 29th’s Quote of the Day!

It is ‘where we are’ that should make all the difference, whether we believe we belong there or not. 


•Chang-rae Lee

After working on Wall Street for a year, Korean American novelist Chang-Rae Lee (born July 29, 1965) went back to school to get a masters degree in writing. Upon graduating, he turned his thesis into his first novel, the award-winning Native Speaker.

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Love Of Words’ Quote of the Day for Sunday 

I have to see a thing a thousand times before I see it once. 


~Thomas Wolfe

July 9, 1937: On this day, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a letter to Thomas Wolfe, advising his fellow author to write shorter novels. Wolfe responded with a letter eight times as long as Fitzgerald’s.

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Here’s Tuesday’s Quote of the Day!

I want to understand you, 

I study your obscure language. 


Alexander Pushkin

Russian poet Alexander Pushkin (born June 6, 1799) was part of the country’s literati from age 15. By 26, he had begun publishing the serialization of Eugene Onegin, his novel in verse. By 37, he was dead, killed in one of the 29 duels that he fought in his short life.

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Happy Humpday! Here’s Wednesday’s Quote of the Day! ❤️

In secret we met 

In silence I grieve, 

That thy heart could forget, 

Thy spirit deceive. 


George Gordon Byron

May 17, 1824: Before dying in Greece, Lord Byron entrusted a friend with his memoirs. Other friends, worried that the memoirs would be scandalous, fought to destroy the manuscript—190 years ago today, they succeeded, tearing it up and burning it in the office of Byron’s publisher.

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Quote of the Day!

Do you believe in fairies?…If you believe, clap your hands!


•JM Barrie

Boys who wouldn’t grow up occupied the imagination of British writer J.M. Barrie (born May 9, 1860), making appearances in his work both before and after his iconic play, Peter Pan.

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Thank Goodness it’s Friday! Here’s Your Quote of the Day…

The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call “out there. 


Truman Capote

Not long after midnight on April 14, 1965, the murderers depicted in Truman Capote’s true-crime book, In Cold Blood, were executed. The writer was in attendance.