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Lincoln Daily News
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Gearing up for Abe's rally-speech

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To the editor:

This letter is a follow-up to LDN's Friday feature story about the 1858 Abe rally-speech re-enactment set for Thursday, Oct. 16, in downtown Lincoln. I have a suggestion that is guaranteed to increase attendees' understanding and appreciation of this truly remarkable, dramatic event in the history of the first Lincoln namesake city. (See article.)

I make this suggestion based on a simple but very effective technique I learned to use in teaching high school English for 30 years. I often used film as a way to teach literature, and I discovered that students always got more out of the film if they first read the story, novel or play the film was based on -- or at least read key parts.

Accordingly, before you attend the re-enactment, I urge you to read the play script for this event, which I researched, wrote and donated to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission of Lincoln, Illinois. In its June 2008, meeting, the commission stated its intention to place this script in the Lincoln Public Library so that interested people could read it.

I am not sure how closely the re-enactors will follow this script, but reading it will provide insight into Abe's typical exchanges with members of the audience, his humor and the arguments he used against slavery and his Senate-race rival, Stephen A. Douglas -- The Little Giant. I have made a PDF copy of this script, including sources, available online on the commission's Web page at http://www.geocities.com/findinglincolnillinois/


Darold Leigh Henson, Ph.D.
Professor emeritus of English
Missouri State University, Springfield
Honorary member of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission of Lincoln, Illinois

[Posted October 11, 2008]

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