Wrap-up: The Making Of History Calls - Twice!
This is not a solution to the puzzle, but provides notes from its poser. This type of answer has been approved by the community.
Caution: This post contains spoilers.
Well, I'm a bit of a history buff, and I was recently reading about how one of the Beale ciphers is based on the Declaration of Independence, and I thought, hey, what if there was a puzzle to find the document that unlocks the cipher! and everything kind of flowed from there.
I then realized that the puzzle would be best if I wanted two of the same thing - the overall format for the answerer would be cleaner, since the final answer is simply two names. Also, I wanted a catchy but accurate title, and I thought that "History Calls -Twice!" was a decent way of doing that. I decided on two names because I knew that I wanted the cipher to relate to Benjamin Franklin and the Dumas cipher.
I used the Gettysburg Address as the basis for the cipher for several reasons: 1). Abraham Lincoln, the author of this document, has a fairly well-known name. 2). The "address" part lent itself to a pun, as did the apocryphal tale that Lincoln wrote the address on the back of an envelope (the URL of the article is incorrect, ironically).
So the riddle part was taken care of. I needed some concise way to clue the name "Benjamin Franklin" in the ciphertext - preferably using letters towards the_beginning_ of the address. "My grave says printer" seems like a good phrase, and references the fact that Benjamin Franklin had famously hoped that his grave would have the title "printer" on it (not statesman or politician or scientist or inventor or philosopher, though he was all of these.
To create the ciphertext, I manually removed all spaces and punctuation from a copy of the beginning part of the address and put them in a text editor, splitting the text up into rows of 60 letters. This made it easier to locate the correct number for the cipher.
I mostly used my previous knowledge, although I did shop around a bit to find the precise text of the Gettysburg Address. I also used Microsoft's Notepad as my text editor.
I had to add some clarifying stuff - I was originally a little vague as to what the final answer would look like. I also had to fix my enciphering - I had 2 letters off. The last hint was simply that - a hint - and I suspect that the puzzle would be quite solve-able without it.
My thoughts/mental process
My intended solution for the riddle runs along the lines of:
You'd send a letter to me, but I'm not quite what you think.
You send letters to an address, but not this type of address.
You'd send a letter in me, but only if you didn't know me.
You send letters in envelopes, but not the envelope this speech was written on (this part is, of course, a myth).
I was a gem in my day for being both bold and precise.
This line can be taken literally. Perhaps "concise" would be better than "precise," now that I think about it.
I stood strong in the face of graves and grave faces.
This speech was given in the middle of a terrible war on a recently-used battle field. Lincoln was surrounded by graves and grave faces, and his words rang true.
I should have been a little more careful with this posting - the idea made me so excited that I rushed a bit and had to fix a few errors (See "Evolution" above).
At the same time, I really liked how this puzzle worked - a riddle that reveals a cipher that reveals the final answer. Apparently, you guys did, too: 17 upvotes! Thanks for the votes, and Happy Puzzling!