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Yesterday in La Crosse

The Gettysburg Address, 7 score and 16 years ago

Brad Williams

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During this week in 1863, President Lincoln gave his most famous speech, at the dedication of a cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  The November 19th ceremony came four months after the bloody Civil War battle at Gettysburg.  While almost every dramatic reading of the address today occurs without interruption, a newspaper account in the Wisconsin State Journal indicated that Lincoln was interrupted by applause three times when he made the speech.  One instance was after President Lincoln said “all men are created equal.”  And “immense applause” was reported when Lincoln claimed the world wouldn’t remember the address, but would not forget what soldiers did at Gettysburg.

At the time of the Gettysburg Address, the American flag had 35 stars on it, including all the states that had joined the Confederacy.  The newest was West Virginia, which had broken away from Confederate Virginia that June. 

A draft meeting happened in La Crosse that November.  Mayor Albert Pettibone led the meeting at Barron’s Hall, on the north side of Main Street, where plans to draft men for the war were being discussed. 

In 1863, a map of Wisconsin counties looked much like it does today, with some exceptions.  Marathon County, where Wausau is located, stretched all the way up to Lake Superior.  And Vernon County was still known as “Bad Ax County,” yesterday in La Crosse.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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