President Abraham Lincoln stopped at Tidewater Community College’s Virginia Beach Student Center, sharing stories that took him “from the outhouse to the White House.”
The one-man Lincoln play, presented by the Center for Creative Development in celebration of Black History Month, starred Roy Thomas Scott as Lincoln.
Oval-faced Scott, who bears a striking resemblance to the16th president of the United States, started with memories of his childhood, noting the faith his mother instilled in him at a young age. Lincoln’s mother died when he was 9, and his father, a far harsher parent, put an ax in his hand “from the time I was 7 until I was 21.”
But one value he and his father shared was a hatred of slavery. During a trip to New Orleans, Lincoln confronted slavery up close, watching as young African Americans sold for $5. “I was a fatalist and believed we were put on this earth to do certain things,” he said. “I knew some way, somehow, I had to do something about slavery.”
Elected the first Republican president in 1860, Lincoln good-naturedly told the Beach students, “You folks in Virginia left my name off the ballot. I’m sure it was an oversight.”
Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 – a document that signified the Civil War was fought on behalf of slavery. He paid homage to another freedom fighter, Frederick Douglass, a man who “made me realize African-American people were very intelligent.” While the two men differed in their approaches, Douglass ultimately respected Lincoln’s efforts toward the abolition of slavery. Lincoln asked Douglass his thoughts after the second inauguration, and Douglass’ replied, “Mr. President, it was a sacred effort.”
Lincoln was assassinated at Washington, D.C.’s Ford’s Theater in April 1865.