“All Men Are Created Equal”: Louis Armstrong Reads Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

The impetus for our “Satch’s Tracks” series was to share examples of the various types of music found in Louis Armstrong’s record and tape collection; so far we’ve covered Rachmaninoff, Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke, the Beatles, Louis’s own music and more.

But the broader goal of the series is to answer the frequently asked questioned, “What’s on Louis’s tapes?” And as part of the never-ending answer, we’re actually eschewing a musical outing and instead have chosen a spoken word selection for today’s entry: President Abraham Lincoln’s historic “Gettysburg Address.”

As read by Louis Armstrong.

This gem comes from a 1958 tape that is chock full of music–Count Basie’s April in Paris, Coleman Hawkins’s The Hawk in Paris, Berklee College’s Jazz in the Classroom, an Alex Welsh broadcast, a Willis Conover Voice of America broadcast on Armstrong, a Bob Hope-Bing Crosby single, Patti Russo and more–but it’s the Lincoln speech, delivered between the end of the Basie album and Hawkins’s “Chiens Perdus Sans Collier (The Little Lost Dog),” that’s most memorable portion of the tape.  

First, here’s how Louis cataloged it:

LAHM 1987.2.22

And here’s the audio:

Click here to create a free account and listen to the rest of this tape on our Digital Collections page
LAHM 1987.3.4

Louis Armstrong reading Abraham Lincoln–American history doesn’t get any better than that! (And while we’re at it, when can we get Pops on some currency?)

Published by Ricky Riccardi

I am Director of Research Collections for the Louis Armstrong House Museum.

3 thoughts on ““All Men Are Created Equal”: Louis Armstrong Reads Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

  1. So very sad that after that speech, 152 years later, after so many blacks gave their lives in battle for the freedoms we as white people enjoy, the black people of America are still fighting the same fight, the same rights and privileges, free of prejudice and hate.
    I grew up with a love of Louis Armstrong’s music and to this day he is my favourite musician. I love his spirit. xoxox

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