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Posted at 2:59 PM ET, 02/28/2011

Hear Lincoln’s first inaugural speech at U.S. Capitol

By Linda Wheeler

On Saturday at 10 a.m. at the U.S. Capitol visitor center, actor Sam Waterston will deliver Abraham Lincoln’s justifiably famous first inaugural speech during a re-enactment of the 16th President’s swearing-in. As with the original, which actually occurred a day earlier on March 4, 1861 on the nearby steps of the Capitol, the event is free.

In 1861, Lincoln’s speech was closely followed by residents in the North and the South who were anxious about what he would do in the wake of numerous seizures of federal institutions in the Deep South by states that had seceded from the country. He said states had no right to secede—“the Union will endure forever”—and the government “will hold, occupy, and possess the property belonging to the Government.” In other words, he was going to take everyting back.

Following the inaugural event, the Willard Hotel is offering a banquet for $75 that is reminiscent of the one Lincoln enjoyed following his inauguration. As of Monday, there were still tickets available but reservations have to be made by midnight, Feb. 28 at this web address.

There are a dozen or more important Civil War sites to see in the city following the Capitol event, most of them also free, including Ft. Stevens where Lincoln was fired on by Confederates, the National Museum of American History’s Civil War exhibit and the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum. Walk the same route Lincoln took to the Capitol for his swearing-in by following Pennsylvania Avenue to the Willard Hotel.

The event at the Capitol, hosted by Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill), will include remarks by Lincoln scholar and author Harold Holzer. As it was done in 1861, the swearing in will follow the inaugural speech.

By Linda Wheeler  | February 28, 2011; 2:59 PM ET
Categories:  150th anniversary, Events, News  
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Next: Civil War soldiers to be honored in Living Legacy Tree Planting program

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