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Gettysburg Address ... easy question? maybe
12-26-2017, 08:57 PM (This post was last modified: 12-26-2017 11:23 PM by David Lockmiller.)
Post: #31
RE: Gettysburg Address ... easy question? maybe
(12-19-2017 08:32 PM)STS Lincolnite Wrote:  Douglas Wilson, in his book Lincoln’s Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words makes mention of these punctuation habits and how John Defrees at the Government printing office had the unenviable task of trying to edit the state papers that Lincoln sent to be printed.

In the July following Mr. Lincoln's inauguration, an extra session of Congress was called. In the message then sent in, speaking of secession, and the measures taken by the Southern leaders to bring it about, there occurs the following sentence: "With rebellion thus sugar-coated, they have been drugging the public mind of their section for more than thirty years; until, at length, they have brought many good men to a willingness to take up arms against the Government," etc. Mr. Defrees, the government printer, told me that, when the message was being printed, he was a good deal disturbed by the use use of the term "sugar-coated," and finally went to the President about it. Their relations to each other being of the most intimate character, he told Mr. Lincoln frankly, that he ought to remember that a message to Congress was a different affair from a speech at a mass-meeting in Illinois; that the messages became a part of history, and should be written accordingly.

"What is the matter now?" inquired the President.

"Why," said Mr. Defrees, "you have used an undignified expression in the message;" and then, reading the paragraph aloud, he added, "I would alter the structure of that if I were you."

"Defrees," replied Mr. Lincoln, "that word expresses precisely my idea, and I am not going to change it. The time will never come in this country when the people won't know exactly what sugar-coated means!"

(Francis Carpenter, "Six Months at the White House," pages 126-27)

Mr. Douglas Wilson was wrong in writing: "[Mr. Defrees] had the unenviable task of trying to edit the state papers that Lincoln sent to be printed." Mr. Defrees did, in fact, make necessary and successful contribution in his work with President Lincoln.

On a subsequent occasion, Mr. Defrees told me, a certain sentence of another message was very awkwardly constructed. Calling the President's attention to it in the proof-copy, the latter acknowledged the force of the objection raised, and said, "Go home, Defrees, and see if you can better it." The next day Mr. Defrees took in to him his amendment. Mr. Lincoln met him by saying: "Seward found the same fault that you did, and he has been rewriting the paragraph also." Then, reading Mr. Dufrrees's version, he said, "I believe you have beaten Seward; but, 'I jings,' I think I can beat you both." Then, taking up his pen, he wrote the sentence as it was finally printed."

(Francis Carpenter, "Six Months at the White House," page 127.)

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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01-04-2018, 11:32 AM (This post was last modified: 01-04-2018 11:38 AM by David Lockmiller.)
Post: #32
RE: Gettysburg Address ... easy question? maybe
(12-26-2017 08:57 PM)David Lockmiller Wrote:  Mr. Defrees, the government printer, told me that, when the message was being printed, he was a good deal disturbed by the use use of the term "sugar-coated," and finally went to the President about it.

"Defrees," replied Mr. Lincoln, "that word expresses precisely my idea, and I am not going to change it. The time will never come in this country when the people won't know exactly what sugar-coated means!"

(Francis Carpenter, "Six Months at the White House," pages 126-27)

Last night, I was watching the local news here in San Francisco. The news reporter began the reporting of the first story (which is usually the most important story to the local community) with these words: "There's no "sugar-coating" it . . . ."

This morning I read online the coverage of the same story in a different publication which I copy here:

"Each winter, California officials trudge up the Sierra Nevada to measure the snowpack, with news cameras watching closely. Last year, there was a thick blanket of white. This year, the blanket had turned to a crunchy brown.

Roughly one-third of California’s water supply comes from runoff in the Sierras — snowpack measurements are critical to help plan how much water cities and agricultural areas will receive."

So, a century and a half later, President Lincoln was proven right once again. As usual, Abraham Lincoln was "right as rain," or, in this case, "snow." (Sorry about that!)

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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