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Welcome Remarks for His Greatest Speeches: How Lincoln Moved the Nation

Greetings from the National Archives’ flagship building in Washington, DC, which sits on the ancestral lands of the Nacotchtank peoples. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to today’s program with Diana Schaub in conversation with Lucas Morel about Schaub’s new book about President Abraham Lincoln’s greatest speeches.

Before we begin, I’d like to tell you about two programs coming up in the next couple of weeks on our YouTube channel.

On Wednesday, February 23, at 5 p.m., Jonathan White will discuss A House Built by Slaves, his new book about how President Abraham Lincoln welcomed African Americans of every background into the White House, from ex-slaves to champions of abolitionism.

And on Tuesday, March 1, at 1 p.m., Neil Thompson will tell us about his new book, The First Kennedys, which looks into the roots of the Kennedy dynasty, beginning with Patrick and Bridget, who fled Ireland during the Great Famine and whose descendants were elected to office at all levels of government.

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Whenever there is a survey ranking Presidents, Abraham Lincoln has consistently appeared at the top of the list. We remember him for his leadership during the Civil War and his dedication to preserving the Union. And we recall his inspirational oratory.

Today’s guest speaker, Diana Schaub, has examined three key Lincoln speeches and shown how they reveal his thoughts on what he considered key moments in American history: the writing of the Constitution, our Declaration of Independence, and the beginning of slavery in North America.

In her new book, Schaub offers a line-by-line analysis of the three speeches—the Lyceum Address, delivered early in Lincoln’s career, when he was only 28; the Gettysburg Address, made in the midst of the Civil War; and the Second Inaugural Address, given near the end of that war.

Lincoln chose his words carefully, and in today’s talk we’ll learn about the deliberate construction of his orations and their historical context.

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Diana Schaub is professor of political science at Loyola University, Maryland, and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. She was a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics and contributing editor of The New Atlantis. She has written for The Claremont Review of Books, City Journal, The New Criterion, and Commentary.

Lucas Morel is a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute and professor of politics and Head of the Politics Department at Washington and Lee University. His books include Lincoln and the American Founding, Lincoln's Sacred Effort, and Ralph Ellison and the Raft of Hope.

Now let’s hear from Diana Schaub and Lucas Morel. Thank you for joining us today.