February 9, 2015 Library of Congress to Display Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address

Exhibition for Four Days Only, March 4-7

Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of its delivery, the Library of Congress will place on display the original manuscript of President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address for four days only—Wednesday, March 4 through Saturday, March 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.—in the Great Hall of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E. in Washington, D.C.

Lincoln delivered the speech, famed for its closing phrase “With malice toward none, with charity for all” from the east portico of the U.S. Capitol, resplendent with its then-new iron dome, on March 4, 1865. Visitors will be able to view all four manuscript pages in Lincoln’s own handwriting; see his two-columned reading copy, comprised of text cut and pasted from the printer’s proof; and view photographs, a contemporary news account of the inauguration and an assessment of the speech by abolitionist and human-rights leader Frederick Douglass, all from the Library’s collections.

Although the Civil War was not yet over when Lincoln delivered the speech, he used the occasion of his second swearing-in not to rally the North on to ultimate victory or lay out a blueprint for Reconstruction, but rather to offer a theological interpretation of the war and its causes and advocate generosity of spirit to achieve “a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” The Second Inaugural is considered to be one of Abraham Lincoln’s greatest speeches, and is routinely ranked among the best inaugural addresses delivered by an American president.

The March display will allow visitors to see not only those documents but also major collection items placed on public view in the ongoing exhibition “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom” including the “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. and several items on special display from the collection of civil-rights pioneer Rosa Parks, including her Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“It is a rare opportunity—perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime chance—for Americans to see all these interconnected elements of our national story in one place at one time,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “In these items we witness some of the most memorable touchstones of our nation’s long journey toward a more just society.”

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Founded in 1800, the Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov.


PR 15-021
ISSN 0731-3527