One hundred and fifty years ago, on March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln delivered his first inaugural address as the 16th President of the United States. Facing the most profound political crisis in the nation's history, Lincoln made the case against secession by explaining the nature of the Union and asserting republican government as the foundation of individual liberty and free society. In one of the great speeches of American history – still instructing us today – Lincoln not only dealt with conditions of unprecedented immediacy and magnitude but also explained and justified the defense of American constitutionalism for the sake of liberty and political right in America and in the world.
Herman Belz is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Maryland and academic director of the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation. He is the author of several books, including Abraham Lincoln, Constitutionalism, and Equal Rights in the Civil War Era (1998), A Living Constitution or Fundamental Law? American Constitutionalism in Historical Perspective (1998), and Equality Transformed: A Quarter Century of Affirmative Action (1991), and co-author ofThe American Constitution: Its Origin and Development (1991). In 1966, he received the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association for his book Reconstructing the Union: Theory and Policy during the Civil War.
More About the Speakers
Herman Belz, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of History, University of Maryland
Matthew Spalding, Ph.D.
Vice President, American Studies and Director, B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics