H.L. Mencken (1880 – 1956) was at a loss to understand the American public's deification of Abraham Lincoln. As far as Mencken was concerned, Lincoln was simply another opportunist who fed at the federal trough; even Jefferson Davis might have been able to find kinder words to describe Lincoln than Mencken was able. Yet there was one contribution Lincoln made that Mencken was unable to dismiss, and that was the Gettysburg Address:
"It is eloquence brought to a pellucid and almost gem-like perfection --the highest emotion reduced to a few poetical phrases. Nothing else precisely like it is to be found in the whole range of oratory. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it [in other speeches]. It is genuinely stupendous."
(Although, like any unreconstructed Rebs, he thought the argument was all a bunch of rot.)