On Nov. 19, 1863 thousands of men and women, including many of America’s most distinguished leaders, gathered to dedicate the National Cemetery at Gettysburg. The country’ greatest orator, Edward Everett, delivered the major address which lasted two hours. Then President Lincoln, who had been asked to make a few “dedicatory remarks” slowly rose to his feet and began to speak, glancing down now and then at the piece of paper he held in his hand. In less than 3 minutes he finished. The crowd applauded politely, and Lincoln left with the feeling that his speech had been a “flat failure.” The next day, Edward Everett sent a note to the President which said: “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes.” In his gracious reply to Everett, Lincoln wrote: “In our respective parts yesterday, you could not have been excused…
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