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.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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