Roundtable to Analyze Gettysburg Address; It's Only Fitting That John Fitzpatrick Is the Guest Speaker at Thursday's Gathering of the California University of Pennsylvania Civil War Roundtable. [Derived Headline]

By Harvath, Les | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 8, 2015 | Go to article overview

Roundtable to Analyze Gettysburg Address; It's Only Fitting That John Fitzpatrick Is the Guest Speaker at Thursday's Gathering of the California University of Pennsylvania Civil War Roundtable. [Derived Headline]


Harvath, Les, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


It's only fitting that John Fitzpatrick is the guest speaker at Thursday's gathering of the California University of Pennsylvania Civil War Roundtable.

After all, he is a licensed battlefield guide emeritus at the Gettysburg National Military Park, with 2015 having been his 12th year serving and educating the public about the events that occurred at the site on July 1-3, 1863. And just as fitting is his presentation, " 'There is no fail here.' President Lincoln at Gettysburg."

Lincoln, Fitzpatrick said, had three purposes in his brief, two- minute but masterful presentation: to honor veterans who fought there, to confirm his policies designed to bring end to slavery, and to confirm his intentions of preserving the Union.

"President Lincoln achieved his goals in his short, masterful presentation," Fitzpatrick continued, adding that "the President was not invited as the keynote speaker -- that distinction belonged to former representative, senator, governor and Secretary of State Edward Everett, who spoke for two hours prior to Lincoln's address - - indeed, he was asked to make only a "few appropriate remarks," yet accepted that "secondary" role in the midst of the American Civil War with no end in sight."

Gettysburg provides the backdrop for Fitzpatrick's presentation as he analyzes what Lincoln had to deal with regarding the nation and the remainder of the war. For this presentation, Fitzpatrick combines his experience with military law, his tenure as a guide, and background research about Gettysburg, Lincoln and the Civil War.

"Many historians focus exclusively on the battle, many focus on how well-written and delivered was the address," Fitzpatrick said, "but my focus is on the big picture, the war, press, diplomatic relations and issues including suspension of habeas corpus. My focus is on Gettysburg, Lincoln, and the Irish in the Civil War -- that's my heritage -- especially the Irish Brigade."

Lincoln, Fitzpatrick continued, was a "concerned, caring, conflicted and careworn" president who spent only 25 hours in Gettysburg on Nov. 18 and 19, 1863. That cemetery dedication ceremony was organized and managed, not by the federal government, by the 18 Union states that provided soldiers to the Union's Army of the Potomac who fought and died on the hallowed battlefield. …

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