Watch Taylor Swift, Bill O’Reilly, Barack Obama, and Marco Rubio Recite the Gettysburg Address

To mark the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg Address, acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns is leading a nationwide project called “Learn the Address“, which encourages Americans to record themselves reciting President Lincoln’s landmark speech. To set an example, a bunch of celebrities, politicians, and TV personalities participated. The video above strings together many of them, including clips of President Obama, Jimmy Carter, both Bush presidents, Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Marco Rubio, Taylor Swift, Usher, Uma Thurman, Rachel Maddow, Bill O’Reilly, Steven Spielberg, and more. It’s a bipartisan affair because, hey, who doesn’t love Lincoln? (Almost everyone loves Lincoln.)

“This was a chance to do something in concert,” Burns tells Mother Jones. “Everybody yells and screams at each other all the time…But the respect for this speech brought everybody out.”

Burns’ related documentary, The Address, is set to premiere April 15 on PBS. The film examines the history and impact of the Gettysburg Address, while telling the story of the Greenwood School, a Vermont boarding school for boys with learning disabilities. Each year, students are encouraged to memorize and recite the Address. Burns has previously lent a hand in judging the school’s recitation program, and The Address is even narrated by Greenwood students.

“I was so moved by these young boys with their own learning difficulties and how hard they were working to learn, memorize, and publicly recite it—no small task,” Burns says. “I realized we had to challenged everybody to learn the Address.” According to Burns, everyone he and his team managed to contact was more than happy to help. It took them about a month and a half to curate their politically diverse, celeb-filled, video gallery.

The selection process for politicos and big names involved “hit-or-miss” brainstorming, and also Burns reaching out to some of his famous friends. “I’m a huge Uma Thurman fan, and she serves on the board of my wife’s nonprofit,” Burns says. “I’m a huge fan of [Taylor Swift], as are my daughters…I didn’t know her personally, but she instantly said yes when we asked.”

Other participants include Whoopi Goldberg:

Louis C.K.:

Stephen Colbert:

and Alyssa Milano:

Check out more videos here.

In the coming weeks, Burns and his team will post to their website mash-ups of ordinary citizens reading and reciting the Address. You can submit you video here.

“I hope our site is broken by the number of people joining in,” Burns says.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate