War Rhetoric (First Draft)

Ever wonder how the first draft of the Gettysburg Address read? Or what happened after Captain Lawrence uttered "Don't Give Up The Ship!" Or what Barry Goldwater really meant when he said, "Let's lob one into the men's room at the Kremlin!"

Well, wonder no more ...

Revolutionary War: Everyone remembers Longfellow's Midnight Ride of Paul Revere and that Boston patriot's famous line: "The British are Coming! The British are Coming!" Well, historians have unearthed an old document which reveals what Revere actually announced during his celebrated ride: "5o Cent Beers at the Patriot Pub! 5o Cent Beers at the Patriot Pub! Tuesday is Ladies Nite! No Cover Charge!"

War of 1812: It seems that Captain James Lawrence's famous dying command "Don't give up the ship!" (onboard the USS Chesapeake in June 1813) was at first "Don't give up the rum!" He later changed it to "Don't give up the beer!" and then "Don't give up the mulled cider!" Finally, Capt Lawrence decided in order to save all the liquor onboard it would be less confusing if the crew simply did not give up the ship. Unfortunately, the plan did not work. The British seized the Chesapeake, as well as all the liquor, and that evening the entire crew of Brits got royally pissed.

Civil War: First draft of the Gettysburg Address (found written on the back of an envelope from a credit card company offering the Lincolns 0% interest for 6 months ... and no annual fee):

"About 87 years ago, give or take, a bunch of gutsy guys (spurred on by their wives who were sick and tired of paying a tax on sugar) beat the greatest military force on the planet at that time (the Brits) and then they started this new country with the thought that everybody has the freedom to do whatever the heck they want to do and that everyone is pretty much the same (except for the slaves).

"Now we're fighting this damn bloody civil war to resolve this slavery issue that our forefathers didn't want to deal with way back then (because most of them were Virginians and had slaves of their own). So, here we are on one of the bloodiest battlefields of this war ... oh sure, it looks okay now, but you should have been here on Tuesday!

"We want to make this place a sacred burial place for those brave fellows who died here so that our nation might survive into the 20th century to build fast food restaurants and Wal-Marts. It is, of course, a real, real proper thing that we do this ... you know ... that we dedicate this field, or at least, a portion of it to the aforementioned brave men.

"But, on a grander scale, we really can't do anything in terms of dedication and consecration, etc, etc, etc, that these brave men have not already done with their own blood and guts. I doubt anyone will remember whatever the heck any of us say here today (especially the speaker before me - Edward Everett - boy oh boy that guy went on and on for something like two hours and all I get as President of the United States is about two minutes!), but it's up to all of us to remain dedicated to this bloody war, no matter how stinkin' bloody it gets going forward, so that from these honored dead we can move forward - and perhaps the US, under the grace of the Big Guy upstairs, will get some sort of a jump-start in the ol' freedom department - and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people (except for the slaves, but I'm working it, I'm working on it!) will not be snuffed out."

World War I: The George M. Cohan song "Over There!" saw an earlier version entitled "Somewhere Else!" and went like this (set to the same music):

"Somewhere else, somewhere else / I'd rather be ... somewhere else ... than in this trench

'Cause everyone is dying / Grown men are crying

And I just can't, can't can't, can't stand the stench!

Somewhere else, somewhere else / Holy cow ... I really wish ... I were somewhere else

I wish it were over / Wish this war were over

Cause I can't, can't, can't, can't stand living in this trench!"

World War II: FDR's original draft of "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" speech actually read: "We have nothing to fear but the Japanese Empire ... oh, and the Nazis!"

Meanwhile, Churchill's "We will fight on the beaches, we will fight in the fields and in the streets" speech went more like this: "We will fight in the pubs, we will fight in the taphouses, we will fight in the brew houses, we will fight in the distilleries, we will fight in the saloons, and we will fight in any public drinking establishment that serves spirituous liquors of any kind."

Cold War: The first draft of Barry Goldwater's "Let's lob one into the men's room at the Kremlin!" comment actually read: "Let's lob one into the men's room at the Kremlin ... and another one into the cafeteria ... and another into the front lobby ... and perhaps two or three into the parking lot just to show we mean business!"

Jack Sheedy

PS: Edward Everett was a member of the Whig Party -- God bless him!

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