Quincy News

Lincoln-Douglas debate to take center stage as part of Lincoln in the District

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 6, 2017 12:00 pm

QUINCY -- Organizers of Lincoln in the District are highlighting the 16th president's most famous stop in Quincy.

The event, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in Washington Park, will focus on the 1858 debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas.

The event is organized by Quincy's Looking for Lincoln working group, Quincy's Lincoln Legacy. Quincy is one of six cities designated as a gateway community of the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area.

"The debate was the most historic event in the city of Quincy, and I think from now on, we're going to make that part of the focal point," said organizer Iris Nelson. "There are so many aspects of the debate that we can pick up on and tell people more of the story."

The event will feature Lincoln and Douglas impersonators, as well as a Gen. Ulysses S. Grant impersonator, who will discuss his stay in Quincy during the early part of the Civil War; he will speak at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

"Mr. (Larry) Werline, who is playing the role of Grant, is very well versed in his history and promises to do a nice, long talk," Nelson said.

Lincoln impersonator George Buss of Freeport holds the honor of being the official Lincoln impersonator at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

"He is just so warm and friendly to residents who come to the park and have questions," Nelson said. "It might be a question even related to today's politics."

The three impersonators will arrive by horse-drawn carriage at 10 a.m. for the kickoff. During a keynote program at noon, Lincoln will be presented with a cake, which will be in Mary Todd Lincoln's favorite colors of lavender and purple.

Lincoln and Douglas will square off at both 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., when they will bring up some of the focal points at the debate that were critical to Lincoln's drive to the presidency.

New this year is a presentation of the rules of baseball in 1858 by umpire Allen "Honest Al" Stare, of the Long Nine Vintage Base Ball Club.

Nelson hopes to bring in the entire team at a future Lincoln in the District.

"It was a game the soldiers played when they had down time in camps," Nelson said. "Having a little frolic was a cool thing for them to do."

The family-friendly event also will feature six mini-theater scenes, horse-drawn carriage rides, craft demonstrations and a Civil War field embalming presentation.

Pioneer-era toys, old-time mercantile items and refreshments will be available for purchase along with crafts from vendors. Period music will be provided throughout the day.

Participating Lincoln-related sites around the square include the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Interpretive Center, 128 N. Fifth, the History Museum, 332 Maine, and the 1840s home of abolitionist Dr. Richard Eells, 415 Jersey. The John Wood Mansion at 12th and State also will be open for tours.

Though seating will be available, it is recommended that attendees bring their own chairs.

More information, including a complete schedule, may be found at lincolninthedistrict.com.

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