The world will little note nor long remember what we say here...
November 20, 2003 6:31 AM   Subscribe

"Four score and seven years ago..."
Yesterday was the 140th anniversary of Lincoln's famous address. There is only one known photograph of President Lincoln at Gettysburg (here's the detail view if you're having a hard time spotting him). The Library of Congress website explains that the image sat for more than half a century in the National Archives before anyone recognized President Lincoln in it.
posted by Irontom (21 comments total)
That's Elvis!
posted by spazzm at 6:54 AM on November 20, 2003

The Gettysburg Address has always stood, in my mind, as one of the great pieces of oratory ever created. In the 1860s, public speaking was an artform that had reached the Baroque. Speakers were hired to deliver great oratory, and would spend two or so hours doing so.

After the battle, the Governor of Pennsylvania, Andrew Curtin, gave a local judge, David Wills, the unenviable task of cleaning up the battlefield and burying the bodies left behind. Judge Wills acquired 17 acres of land and used it as a cemetery. After the work was done, he invited Edward Everret, a famous and well known orator, to speak at the dedication. Mr. Everret was so honored that he waived his normal fee, and paid for his own transportation.

Mr. Willis also invited President Lincoln to attend, and, if he wished, to ...formally set apart these grounds to their sacred use by a few appropriate remarks

At the dedication, Mr. Everret gave his all, and spoke for over two hours -- a speech that was very well received, by all accounts. Then, the President took the stage and delivered his speech. Just 273 words, delivered in less than ten minutes -- and they still resonate today.
posted by eriko at 6:56 AM on November 20, 2003

Shameless self-link. What is it now? Eleven score and seven? I think at the time, I wrote that with at least a tablespoon of sincerity. Today, I read it and can smell my own stench of sarcasm wafting from the letters. If revisited today I'd make a few changes, like "great battle fields of that war" rings false to me now. I like to think if alive today, Abe would slap that smug smirk off Shrub's face, but being a republican, Abe would probably just stand next to Colin Powell with arms crossed trying very hard not to toss his cookies.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:08 AM on November 20, 2003

The Gettysburg Address has always stood, in my mind, as one of the great pieces of oratory ever created.

Technically speaking, oratory is the art of public speaking, so (and I'll stand correction on this) you would have had to hear the words to say that the Address was up there, I seem to recall most of the historic accounts suggest it wasn't that well received at the time. It would be fascinating to be able to hear the Address as Lincoln did it but google sadly are unable to furnish an mp3. I have to admit though that it doesn't resonate with me (as a non-American) in the way that MLK's 'I have a dream' does, though of course we can listen to this.
posted by biffa at 7:37 AM on November 20, 2003

With all the beards and stovepipe hats in the photo, it must have taken quite a bit of detective work to positively identify the one blurry figure as Honest Abe.
posted by briank at 7:39 AM on November 20, 2003

Biffa: "oratory is the art of public speaking, so... you would have had to hear the words.."

I'd love to hear Ken Nordine recite the Gettysburg Address, but I can't tell if he's already done it or not. Maybe if enough people emailed him and asked him to record it. I mean the guy could make a phone book sound cool. Just imagine what he'd do with the G.A.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:43 AM on November 20, 2003

Gettysburg Powerpoint Address.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 8:01 AM on November 20, 2003

That is a very cool link Irontom. The whole Gettysburg Address is one of obscure greatness and this obscure photo continues that meme perfectly. Very few actually heard the speech it was a dreary overcast day, the crowd was restless after hearing a previous 2 hour speech, there were no microphones, and if you were not paying attention the 2-minute speech (interrupted 5 times by cheers) would be easily missed. But those who heard it knew right away it was greatness. Lincoln did make one mistake in his speech The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here
posted by stbalbach at 8:05 AM on November 20, 2003

Thanks for the suggestion Zach, alas could not get anything from the link but managed to track down his stuff elsewhere, definitely a fascinating voice - I was worried you were going to send to one of those film trailer voiceover guys who are so adept at putting me off films.
posted by biffa at 8:17 AM on November 20, 2003

...that is so weird. Nordine's server was there less than an hour ago.. =(
posted by ZachsMind at 8:20 AM on November 20, 2003

Could be a problem with my media plug-ins not picking up but anyway, I think we're derailing here so careful.
posted by biffa at 8:25 AM on November 20, 2003

The speech might not have been well recieved--there was I bleieve silence that suggested awe--but the folks at that time were used to the left-over long-winded stuff of sermons, a gift to us from theage of Puritan preachers...How many of us could today listen to a three-hour sermon in church? Abe used sound bites, so to speak, but the language was that of biblical rhythms rather than products of tv ads.
posted by Postroad at 8:30 AM on November 20, 2003

It would be fascinating to be able to hear the Address as Lincoln did it but google sadly are unable to furnish an mp3.

The next best thing.
posted by crunchland at 8:40 AM on November 20, 2003

eriko may have meant rhetoric, in the original sense of the word, i.e. influencing the thought and/or conduct of an audience through the use of effective language.
posted by Irontom at 8:44 AM on November 20, 2003

I remember reading that Lincoln apologized afterward for the briefness of his remarks, but as stbalbach noted, he was not scheduled as the main speaker.

His ass-kickingest speech was his Second Inaugural, which I've linked before so I won't force it down your throat here. Just read it and try to imaging Dubya even understanding, let alone speaking, those long sentences.
posted by planetkyoto at 9:01 AM on November 20, 2003

[this is good - thanks Irontom]
posted by plep at 9:06 AM on November 20, 2003

Cheers crunchland, though Watterston wasn't desperately exciting. You know what would be fascinating though? Bill Pullman doing it in the style of his speech in Independence Day.
posted by biffa at 9:06 AM on November 20, 2003

Is he the guy in the middle of the detail?
posted by moonbiter at 11:22 AM on November 20, 2003

This is good excellent superb. Thank you for posting it.
posted by anastasiav at 12:09 PM on November 20, 2003

Dumbing down the language.
posted by rushmc at 12:13 PM on November 20, 2003

Positively fascinating.

However, I don't believe the image is a photograph, but rather a daguerreotype. Using a different, and more chemically complex process than photography, they convey much more detail than their modern counterparts.

Were this a 35mm print, it's doubtful that Lincoln would ever have been spoted, and even if he were, the resolution would be so low as to be almost inscrutable.

Any photographers care to weigh in on this?
posted by aladfar at 1:31 PM on November 20, 2003

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