FDR Aligns Himself with Lincoln

In 1929 Franklin D. Roosevelt told a journalist that it was time for “us Democrats to claim Lincoln as one of our own.” Thereafter, his speechwriters and close associates seldom lost an opportunity to connect the two presidents. FDR mentioned Lincoln often in his speeches and quoted him in support of policy initiatives. On 3 July 1938, over 250,000 people—including more than 1,800 Civil War veterans—gathered at Gettysburg for the seventy-fifth anniversary of the battle. This is FDR’s personally annotated copy of the nine-minute speech he gave that day. Afterward, as the president returned to his car, he stopped to speak with the oldest veteran in attendance, 112-year-old William Barnes of the U.S. Colored Troops.