Charlotte Richter/ Staff Writer
Members of the Association of Lincoln Presenters toured Fort Leavenworth and the Frontier Army Museum to learn about the area in the context of Abraham Lincoln’s 1859 visit to Kansas during the group’s annual conference April 22.
According to the ALP website, the association “is an organization of men and women dedicated to bringing Abraham and Mary Lincoln to life. Through presentations that educate, entertain and inspire, members honor the words and works of the Lincolns. The ALP mission is to preserve the legacy of Abraham and Mary Lincoln, to honor their words and works, and walk in their footsteps.”
Murray Cox, ALP treasurer and conference host, said he proposed Leavenworth for the conference because he noticed that many ALP members had a limited understanding of Lincoln’s trip to Kansas. Around 20 ALP members visited Leavenworth and Atchison during the conference to hear about John Brown, Fort Leavenworth, the Buffalo Soldiers, women’s suffrage and other regional history accounts.
Cox began presenting as Lincoln more than 40 years ago after growing a beard and learning more about the president. He said he didn’t intend to present, but occasionally visited schools to recite the Gettysburg Address and talk about Lincoln’s experiences while referencing his own childhood in Indiana.
“I kind of got drafted into it… after a while, you just realize that you need to start studying and learning. There’s just so much to learn and to know, particularly if you’re going to allow people to ask questions if you go and give a program.”
Cox said the conference was an opportunity to learn more and meet with members.
“It’s a chance to get together and visit with each other, see what we’re doing, and there always seems to be an opportunity to learn something from other Lincolns, too.”
ALP Board Member Kevin Wood said he has presented Lincoln for 22 years because of his love of history and his physical resemblance. Wood said the conference marks his fourth trip to Kansas.
“The history of Kansas is just so tied into Lincoln’s own story and the history of the nation. If you read the Lincoln-Douglas debates, what they were debating about, essentially, was the fate of Kansas and slavery. Kansas is integral to the story,” Wood said.
He portrays himself as a “multilingual Lincoln,” offering complete and abridged presentations in English, Spanish, French and German. He said he also translated the Gettysburg Address into each language with attention to the meaning of each word.
“For example, the word ‘dedicate’ — Lincoln used the word dedicate but in different sentences in the Gettysburg Address, dedicating a place versus dedicating ourselves to a principle, and so is that the same word in Spanish? It might not be in Spanish or French or German,” Wood said.
ALP Secretary Sue Wright, who has attended ALP conferences since 2011, pointed out the importance of research in her portrayal of Mary Lincoln. She said she has learned how to make a bonnet and the process for dressing historically accurate. Wright said she enjoys researching Mary and balancing her history against her perception during programs.
For more information about the ALP and upcoming events, visit https://www.lincolnpresenters.com.
For more information about local artifacts related to Abraham Lincoln, visit the Frontier Army Museum.