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Lincoln's Legend & Legacy
lINCOLN'S LEGEND AND LEGACY
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APRIL 10, 2009

Assassinated on Good Friday, Abraham Lincoln was transformed from man to martyr and myth. In this special performance edition of BILL MOYERS JOURNAL acclaimed actor Sam Waterston and historian Harold Holzer explore Abraham Lincoln's legacy and legend in poetry and prose by great American writers across the decades who have wrestled to define the true Lincoln through the lens of their own times. The performance is drawn from a collection edited by Holzer, THE LINCOLN ANTHOLOGY: GREAT WRITERS ON HIS LIFE AND LEGACY FROM 1860 TO NOW. (Find out more.)

Sam Waterston

Photo by Robin Holland Acclaimed actor Sam Waterston earned a Tony Award nomination for the title role in "Abe Lincoln in Illinois" at the Lincoln Center Theater in New York and he also portrayed Abraham Lincoln opposite Mary Tyler Moore in the Gore Vidal miniseries LINCOLN.

Waterston has portrayed Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy on LAW & ORDER for 15 seasons, and returned as the new District Attorney in the show's 19th season. Waterston is a six-time Emmy Award nominee (three times for LAW & ORDER and three more for I'LL FLY AWAY) and won the award for hosting the 10-part NBC informational series LOST CIVILIZATIONS. He also received a Golden Globe for I'LL FLY AWAY and earned the 1999 Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance as McCoy.

In addition, Waterston earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his performance in THE KILLING FIELDS, and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Most Promising Newcomer for his portrayal of Nick Carraway in THE GREAT GATSBY. He has also been nominated for several BAFTA Awards.

Waterston's other notable feature credits include: the Woody Allen films INTERIORS, HANNAH AND HER SISTERS and CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS; John Waters' SERIAL MOM; HOPSCOTCH; HEAVEN'S GATE; Tennessee Williams' THE GLASS MENAGERIE (with Katharine Hepburn) and EAGLE'S WING with Martin Sheen and Harvey Keitel. He also starred opposite Jeff Bridges in Tom McGuane's RANCHO DELUXE and with Reese Witherspoon in MAN IN THE MOON.

Waterston's stage work includes myriad Broadway and off-Broadway productions including many plays with the New York Shakespeare Festival, such as "As You Like It," "Cymbeline," "Measure for Measure", "Hamlet", and "The Doll's House", with Liv Ullmann. Waterston won an Obie and Drama Desk Award for his portrayal of Benedick in "Much Ado About Nothing." In 2004 Waterston returned to The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park in a reprise production of "Much Ado About Nothing" and this time portrayed "Leonato" opposite his daughter, Elisabeth ("The Prince and Me") starring in the "Hero" role.

Harold Holzer
Photo by Robin HollandHarold Holzer is one of the country's leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. Holzer has authored, co-authored, and edited 33 books in addition to THE LINCOLN ANTHOLOGY: GREAT WRITERS ON HIS LIFE AND LEGACY FROM 1860 TO NOW from which the special presentation is drawn. THE LIBRARY JOURNAL "highly recommended" his book, LINCOLN PRESIDENT-ELECT: ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND THE GREAT SECESSION WINTER 1860-1861 and Doris Kearns Goodwin called it a "stunningly original work that casts completely new light on the most turbulent and critical presidential transition in American history."

A prolific writer and lecturer, and frequent guest on television, he serves as the co-chair of the United States Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. Holzer was awarded The National Humanities Medal in 2008.

Purchase THE LINCOLN ANTHOLOGY: GREAT WRITERS ON HIS LIFE AND LEGACY FROM 1860 TO NOW, edited by Harold Holzer.

Read an interview with volume editor Harold Holzer (PDF 80K)

Read an excerpt, "Robert Russa Moton, Draft of Speech at the Lincoln Memorial (1922)" (PDF 70K)

Read an excerpt, "Walt Whitman on Abraham Lincoln" (PDF 60K)

> More from THE LINCOLN ANTHOLOGY

Guest photos by Robin Holland

References and Reading:
Harold Holzer.com
Harold Holzer's Web site offers a wealth of writings, speeches and research from the famed Lincoln scholar.

National Lincoln Bicentennial Committee
The Web site of the Bicentennial Commission offers everything from an elaborate timeline and little-known Lincoln trivia to an extensive list of Lincoln events taking place around the nation in 2009. There is a special section devoted to resources for teachers.

Abraham Lincoln: Cooper Union Address
Sam Waterston recreates the famed address delivered by Lincoln on February 27, 1860 at New York's Cooper Union. Some Lincoln scholars consider this the speech that made Lincoln a viable presidential candidate.

NEW YORK TIMES Topic: Abraham Lincoln
Explore dozens of articles and multi-media exhibits from the collection of THE NEW YORK TIMES.

The Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress
Explore Lincoln first-hand. The complete Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 20,000 documents. Most of the 20,000 items are from the 1850s through Lincoln's presidential years, 1861-65. Treasures include Lincoln's draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, his March 4, 1865, draft of his second Inaugural Address, and his August 23, 1864, memorandum expressing his expectation of being defeated for re-election in the upcoming presidential contest.

New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World
Listen to Eric Foner's presentation to a special panel discussion of Lincoln's legacy. Additional audio highlights include: Sean Wilentz on Lincoln's evolving position in the context of party politics; John Oakes considers Lincoln's views on race and citizenship and also essays on Lincoln's literary style, religious beliefs, and family life.

"Lincoln's Contested Legacy,"Philip B. Kunhardt III, SMITHSONIAN magazine, February 2009
The article, by the co-author of the 2008 book LOOKING FOR LINCOLN, traces the changing view of Lincoln over the past 200 years. Kunhardt notes: "He has been lifted up by both sides of the Temperance Movement; invoked for and against federal intervention in the economy; heralded by anti-communists, such as Senator Joseph McCarthy, and by American communists, such as those who joined the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the fight against the fascist Spanish government in the 1930s. Lincoln has been used to justify support for and against incursions on civil liberties, and has been proclaimed both a true and a false friend to African-Americans." The Smithsonian site also links to a wealth of other bicentennial features.

Also This Week:

LINCOLN'S LEGEND & LEGACY
Assassinated on Good Friday, Abraham Lincoln was transformed from man to martyr and myth. In this special performance edition of Bill Moyers Journal acclaimed actor Sam Waterston and historian Harold Holzer explore Lincoln's legacy and legend in poetry and prose by great American writers across the decades who have wrestled to define the true Lincoln through the lens of their own times.

LINCOLN IN LITERATURE
A selection of the entries from THE LINCOLN ANTHOLOGY and other visions of Lincoln in literature.

TWO HUNDRED YEARS OF LINCOLN
View a photo essay of America's number one icon.

MOYERS ON AMERICAN HISTORY Faith, race, immigration, inequality trace the roots of contemporary American issues with this review of JOURNAL presentations on air and online.

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