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Edward Everett

Among the many officials Abdul Rahman met and made a lasting impression on during his northern tour was a young congressman named Edward Everett, who was so moved by the prince's story that he donated $5.00 to Abdul Rahman's subscription book to free his children. Everett was still touched by the meeting decades later. In 1853, he recalled in a speech that Abdul Rahman "had the port and air of a prince, and the literary culture of a scholar."

Perhaps Everett simply recognized Abdul Rahman as a kindred spirit, who, under other circumstances, might have been his colleague, rather than someone who needed his help. Considered the greatest American orator of his time, Edward Everett was one of the most respected and distinguished men in the country, both in politics and education. The first American to receive a Ph.D., Everett was a professor and later president of Harvard University. In politics, he served as a congressman, senator, governor of Massachusetts, and secretary of state.

In the battle for the heart of the young nation that would take place nearly a quarter of a century after Abdul Rahman's northern tour, Everett remained on the right side of history. The most memorable moment of Everett's career came in 1863 when he was invited to speak at Gettysburg. Unfortunately, the concept that "less is more" was lost on Everett, and the dense, two-hour sermon he delivered before President Lincoln's remarks quickly became a historical footnote in the shadow of Lincoln's much briefer and more eloquent words. Schoolchildren everywhere learn of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, but the same can't be said for Everett's remarks. This was not lost on Everett himself, who would later write a note to President Lincoln admitting, "I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near the central idea of the occasion in two hours, as you did in two minutes."

To read Everett's Gettysburg Oration, click here

Edward Everett

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