Happy birthday, Gettysburg Address

150 years ago, President Lincoln delivered what would become one of the most famous and most important speeches in our nation’s history. To commemorate the anniversary, politicians and celebrities have joined together with Ken Burns for a collaborative reading of the speech. The video below features an odd assembly of famous figures, including the likes of Jimmy Carter, Usher, Uma Thurman, and Steven Spielberg, and with 50,000 views so far, the media is already saying it’s gone viral.

Speaking of viral, Wired says Lincoln was “the first president to go viral,” thanks to the brevity of “The Gettysburg Address” and the power of the telegraph.

Lincoln’s address that afternoon, which came after a two-hour speech from famous-at-the-time orator Edward Everett, contained just 272 words, a shockingly short length that allowed it to be transmitted rapidly and become, arguably, one of the first messages from a U.S. president to go viral.

In other important news of the day, Oxford Dictionaries has made “selfie” the word of the year, which is only relevant to this post because I found a picture of Lincoln taking a selfie.

About the Author

More Like This

A Daughter Returns to Her Homeland to Search For Truth

Meng Jin, author of "Little Gods," on motherhood, immigration, and running away from the past

Jan 24 - JR Ramakrishnan

Who Are the Real Villains in “The Majesties”?

Tiffany Tsao on Western gatekeeping and the future of Indonesian literature

Jan 23 - Intan Paramaditha

Celebrate Zora Neale Hurston’s Posthumous Legacy

New and newish releases from the Harlem Renaissance great, whose work is still being rediscovered 60 years after her death

Jan 7 - Jennifer Baker