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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sam Waterston and Lincoln’s Cooper Union Speech

With the bicentennial of President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday coming up on February 12, and as Sam Waterston (Law & Order) has frequently performed in many shows as Lincoln, I thought this was a good time to highlight Sam’s special reading of one of Lincoln’s important speeches.
In May of 2004, Sam reenacted Lincoln’s Cooper Union (New York) speech, which, despite not being a very well known speech by most Americans, is considered one of Lincoln’s most important. It is believed that this speech contributed greatly to Lincoln being elected president, even though he wasn’t even the nominee for the presidency at the time he made the speech.

In this video, “Sam Waterston Delivers Abraham Lincoln's Cooper Union Speech” (link to C-Span), Sam delivers an impassioned performance as Lincoln. The speech is lengthy – a little over an hour – but Sam’s performance at the end should not be missed. Sam appears about 15 minutes into the video if you want to save yourself some time in viewing the entire program.

If you’d like to read along, you can find a transcript of the speech here, along with an audio only of the same reading by Sam. Further reading about Sam’s performance can be found in this New York Times article published in May of 2004, here.

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