This post was written by Hatchet reporter Elise Apelian
A group of actors, members of Congress and historians reenacted President Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration at an event Saturday in the Capitol Visitor Center.
Rep. Jesse L Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) sponsored the sesquicentennial celebration along with various groups dedicated to Lincoln’s history.
Harold Holzer, a chair of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, set the scene of a very anxious union in 1861, as it had just lost seven states to secession and was on the brink of the Civil War.
Holzer pointed out the possibility of the “mother of all government shut-downs,” back then, referring to today’s current threat of a shutdown involving the federal budget. Congress passed a resolution last week allowing the federal government to keep operating another two weeks as it figures out the budget for this fiscal year, since without that measure much in D.C. would have ceased operations.
Holzer introduced actor Sam Waterston – who plays a District Attorney on the popular television series “Law & Order” – to read Lincoln’s 12-page inaugural address, which was originally read March 4, 1861.
“I just hope to make [Lincoln’s address] clear,” Waterston said before reading the address, telling the audience that he would not be reenacting or interpreting the speech himself.
The audience responded to the speech with a standing ovation.
Members of the audience ranged from first graders to senior citizens.
Others said events similar to this celebration of Lincoln’s 150th inauguration were valuable experience for young people.
“A lot of people, especially [college students] should come to stuff like this,” Virginia resident and member of the Civil War Roundtable Andy Evatt said.
He explained how such events help people understand American history and said it “feels like I’m going back in time.”
The Lincoln Group of The District of Columbia, Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, the Lincoln Forum, the Lincoln Archives Digital Project, and the Willard InterContinental Hotel were involved in celebrating the event.