Abraham LincolnOne hundred and fifty years ago, on March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln delivered his first inaugural address. 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 questions of unprecedented immediacy but also explained and justified the American constitutionalism on the grounds of liberty and political rights. (Heritage’s Julia Shaw noted last month that Lincoln made a powerful case that the Constitution is based on the principles of the Declaration of Independence.)

To mark this anniversary, Lincoln scholar Herman Belz spoke at The Heritage Foundation about the address and its legacy. A professor at the University of Maryland, Belz spoke at the invitation of Heritage’s Center for American Studies.

Watch a video of the speech after the jump.

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