Abraham Lincoln Goes Live With Help From AI for 13th Amendment Speech

By Kyle O'Brien 

Abraham Lincoln was famous for helping to end slavery, but he was killed before he was able to truly finish the job. Now, he’s getting that help thanks to AI.

Worth Rises, a non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to dismantling the prison industry and ending the exploitation of those it touches, and agency EP+Co are resurrecting President Lincoln to give his most important speech ever, a speech expressing his regret for including an exception in the 13th Amendment that has allowed slavery to continue, and imploring the 2024 presidential candidates and constituents to finally end slavery for all by passing the Abolition Amendment.

For some historical context, the 13th Amendment is celebrated for ending slavery in the U.S., and President Lincoln was among its biggest champions. However, the amendment includes an exception clause that has been understood throughout history to allow slavery and involuntary servitude to be used as punishment for crime. The exception clause continues to affect Black and Brown people, who are disproportionately incarcerated across the country and forced to work for pennies an hour or no pay under the threat of additional punitive measures, such as the loss of family visits and solitary confinement.


While Lincoln was aware of the exception, he used it to solidify bipartisan support of the 13th Amendment knowing that it could be used to re-enslave Black people, albeit a smaller population. It encouraged the criminalization, incarceration and re-enslavement of Black people during Reconstruction, and it continues to protect the enslavement of incarcerated people today.

“The Most Famous Speech Never Given,” through AI technology, imagines Lincoln’s regret over having agreed to the exception in the 13th Amendment and his outrage about the extent to which it used today to continue the institution of slavery in the U.S. today.


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How it works

Using Lincoln’s past speeches and writings, EP+Co used AI technology to help craft the speech, working with leading Lincoln authority and chairman of the Lincoln Forum, Harold Holzer, to ensure that not only the speech itself, but Lincoln’s appearance and voice were as accurate and authentic as possible. The campaign’s font is also inspired by Lincoln’s handwriting.

Since 2020, South Carolina agency EP+Co has donated its resources to the Worth Rises cause, partnering with the organization to promote the its federal #EndTheException campaign to raise awareness and support of the Abolition Amendment.

With 2024 elections on the horizon, Worth Rises and EP+Co aim to drive public education and legislative action with the campaign. Viewers will be encouraged to spread the word by sharing the speech with friends, family and even their senators to demand change on a federal level.

“At EP+Co, we believe we have a responsibility to use our creative resources and talents for the greater good. For us, advertising isn’t about selling products. It’s about building belief for brands and causes we love—causes like End the Exception. As an agency, we’re deeply committed to driving meaningful change in the world. Right now, by inspiring congress to pass the Abolition Amendment to end slavery once and for all,” said John Cornette, chief creative officer, EP+Co.