Lincoln thought he failed November 19, 1863… obligatory applause from a damp crowd in Gettysburg offered him little consolation. Lincoln had just followed a masterful two-hour speech from America’s greatest orator, Edward Everett. The President sat down in his seat and commented to his friend, Ward Lamon, that the speech wouldn’t “scour” (would fail to clear away.) He left Gettysburg concerned with the bad press and his message resonating.
The Chicago Times recorded, “The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States.”
Edward Everett put the ceremony in the proper perspective:
“Permit me also to express my great admiration of the thoughts expressed by you, with such eloquent simplicity & appropriateness, at the consecration of the Cemetery. 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.”