March 7: 150th Anniversary of Lincoln's Inaugural Observed

President Lincoln delivers his second inaugural address in front of the US Capitol in 1865

Library of Congress

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News Release Date: February 23, 2015

Contact: Mike Litterst, National Park Service, 202-245-4676

Contact: Karen Needles, Lincoln Group of DC, 240-462-9802

Washington –Chuck Todd, moderator of NBC's Meet the Press and former chief White House correspondent for NBC News, will deliver the keynote address for a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's second inauguration. The ceremony, sponsored by the National Park Service and the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia, will take place on Saturday, March 7 at 9:30 a.m. at the Lincoln Memorial and is free and open to the public

Todd will discuss the political climate in the United States at the time of the March 4, 1865, inauguration, one of the most notable in American history. Other speakers will include Dr. Lucas Morel, Associate Professor of Politics at Washington and Lee University, speaking on Lincoln's second inaugural address;and Dr. Edna Greene Medford, professor and chair of Howard University's Department of History's graduate and undergraduate programs, who will reflect on the transition from Civil War to the struggle for Civil Rights for all Americans as the conflict came to an end.

"With the Civil War drawing to a close, Abraham Lincoln used the platform of his second inauguration to deliver a message of reconciliation and hope for the future of the United States," said Karen Cucurullo, acting superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks."On the 150th anniversary of the event, we pause to not only recall its significance in American history, but also to examine its continuing relevancy a century and a half later."

"Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, which many say is his greatest speech, is timeless and relevant to not only our nation, but around the world," said Karen Needles, president of the Lincoln Group of D.C., and director of the Lincoln Archives Digital Project. "Abraham Lincoln truly is a man for all time."

The program will also include a recreation of Abraham Lincoln delivering his Second Inaugural Address, and the administration of the oath of office by Chief Justice of the United States Salmon P. Chase. Music will be provided by the Military District of Washington and multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, and music historian Bobby Horton.

Also taking place on March 7 are family activities highlighting life in Washington, D.C., during the Civil War. The Washington Monument grounds will be the scene of four activity stations from noon to 5 p.m. that will explore different aspects of life in the capital city during the war. Using excerpts from the diary of Mary Henry, a 27-year old resident of Washington during the war, the activities will explore technology, service to country, fun and games, and the legacy of the war. The activities are free and pre-registration is not required. Participants can pick up an activity book from any of the four stations and those completing all four activities will receive a blank journal, similar to the one used by Mary Henry.

About Abraham Lincoln's Second Inauguration

On November 4, 1864, Abraham Lincoln became the sixth United States president to be re-elected to the White House, defeating Democratic challenger George B. McClellan. Lincoln won the electoral vote 221-12 and carried 55% of the popular vote. The election was notable in that the electoral process continued unimpaired despite the ongoing Civil War, a testimony to the democratic system of government and the United States Constitution.

His inauguration on March 4, 1865 took place on the East Portico of the Capitol under clearing skies following more than a quarter inch of rain that fell around daybreak. The ceremony began with Lincoln delivering the inaugural address, one of the most famous speeches in American history in which he outlined his vision for the reunification of the country following the imminent end of the war:"With malice toward none;with charity for all…" After the address, Lincoln was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice of the United States Salmon P. Chase.

Learn more about Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address


About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 405 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at, on Facebook at, on Twitter at, and on YouTube at

About the Lincoln Group. The Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia was founded in 1935 to study the life and leadership of Abraham Lincoln;to engage new generations in understanding his dedication to equality and liberty under law and his attitude "with malice toward none, with charity for all;" and to educate about his vision "that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth."Visit us at, at , and Twitter at

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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