Lincoln Caught the Gettysbug

On November 19, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most recognizable speeches in American history. He delivered it amid the fiercest cold epidemic that has ever swept across the state of Pennsylvania; the epidemic is now known as the Gettysbug.

President Lincoln arrived in Gettysburg on November 18 and was greeted by several hundred people who all wanted to shake his hand. Germs aggressively spread that day as the eager admirers were in close contact with each other in such a small area. When Lincoln reached the house he would stay at for the night, he was suffering from a sore throat, watery eyes, and slight chest congestion.

Lincoln’s head cold put him in a daze during his first night in Gettysburg.

After a restless night, Lincoln woke up and immediately required medical attention because he was having difficulty breathing. Within an hour the congestion had improved, yet it was obvious from his voice that he was suffering from a severe cold.

Feeling better, Lincoln and his traveling companions traveled to the battlefield where he would give his speech during the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery. Several critics of Lincoln were in attendance; they took advantage of the president’s sickness with their merciless humor. One of the journalists wrote Lincoln’s speech just as it sounded with his cold. Below is the opening line to the speech as recorded by one of the critics:

“Four score and seben years ago, our fodders brought forth on dis continent, a dew dation, conceibed in Liberty, and dedicated to the propodition dat all ben are created equal.”

The only confirmed photograph of Abraham Lincoln shows the president sneezing just three hours before he was to take the stage.

Historians believe that this epidemic, that ultimately took the lives of 31 people, could have been avoided if people had washed their hands, avoided close contact with others, drank ginger ale, and gotten plenty of rest. A great resource for more on the topic of cold prevention may be found at YUWAB.com, a site that appreciates the relentless pursuit of The History Bluff to provide the world with accurate accounts of history.

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4 Responses to “Lincoln Caught the Gettysbug”


  1. 1 Wally Lamark October 30, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    I suppose this infection is what resulted in health so poor he died from it?

  2. 2 Nathan October 30, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Nah, Wally can’t be right. I heard Lincoln died of lead poisoning, right?

  3. 3 B. Martinez November 4, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    Nah, Nathan can’t be right. He died because his wife smothered him when the doctors left the room. She was one of the first wives to kill her husband for the purpose of getting his life insurance.

  4. 4 Wally Lamark November 9, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    But we are all dead-sure that that hero Booth did not kill President Lincoln, right? Actors can’t hurt anybody!


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