Lincoln, Douglass & Biden Together on The Wavemaker Conversations Inaugural Edition

If Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass could visit Joe Biden today, and advise him on his inaugural address, what would they say?

Here is a five minute time-sensitive exercise of imagination.

My partner is Yale history professor David Blight. He recently won the Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Frederick Douglass, the abolitionist leader who escaped slavery and became one of America’s greatest orators.

I asked Blight to imagine if we could transport Douglass, along with Abraham Lincoln, for a last-minute briefing with Joe Biden as he puts the finishing touches on his inaugural address.

What would they recommend President Biden say to us? And why?

Here we go.

After you watch that short clip, please join us for some reverse time travel — back to Lincoln’s first inaugural.

You can listen and read along here as Blight compares what President Lincoln inherited in 1861 to what President Biden is inheriting in 2021; and the struggle to strike the right balance between the olive branch and the clenched fist.


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To follow the work of David Blight and his team at the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale click here.