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Abraham Lincoln (1931/2)
Abraham Lincoln Programme Image This play is concerned with Lincoln's personal attitude towards the great American crisis of 1861-1865, when President of the United States. It opens with the arrival at Lincoln's house in Springfield, Illinois, of a deputation from the Republican Congress of 1860, at Chicago, inviting Lincoln to accept their nomination as Presidential candidate at the coming election. Lincoln accepts. We next see him in Washington when the Confederate States of the South have opened hostilities against the Union. a majority of the Cabinet is for concession, but Lincoln overrides the vote and sends immediate relief to a besieged fort. The war has begun. In the next scene it has been in progress two years. Lincoln is beset by faction and intrigue from the two extremes of fanaticism. The following scene shows his great achievement as Lee surrenders to Grant. Finally, as reconstruction and reconciliation lie ahead, Lincoln's life is ended by the bullet of Wilkes-Booth. Full synopsis or Gallery.

Stanton: Now he belongs to the ages.

cast list production credits

John Wilkes Booth

Alastair Sim


Frank Napier
Frederick Douglass Alastair Sim


John Drinkwater
Chronicler Robert Harris Theatre The Old Vic
Abraham Lincoln Harcourt Williams Presented by Lilian Bayliss
General Lee Owen P. Smythe Produced by John Drinkwater
William Seward Douglas Jeffries    
General Grant Ralph Richardson    
General Meade Ralph Michael

Abraham Lincoln Cast

Caleb Jennings Frank Napier
Captain Mallins Grenville Eves
Montgomery Blair Lyon Brown
Edward Stanton Richard Riddle
Hawkins Reginald Lempriere
Henry Hind Robin Craven
Interesting facts

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For the full text of John Drinkwater's play follow the link: Abraham Lincoln

Below is a small fragment from the end of the play where, Wilkes Booth, played by Alastair, assassinates Abraham Lincoln:

Lincoln: My friends, I am touched, deeply touched, by this mark of your good-will. After four dark and difficult years, we have achieved the great purpose for which we set out. General Lee's surrender to General Grant leaves but one Confederate force in the field, and the end is immediate and certain. (Cheers.) I have but little to say at this moment. I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. But as events have come before me, I have seen them always with one faith. We have preserved the American Union, and we have abolished a great wrong. (Cheers.) The task of reconciliation, of setting order where there is now confusion, of bringing about a settlement at once just and merciful, and of directing the life of a reunited country into prosperous channels of good-will and generosity, will demand all our wisdom, all our loyalty. It is the proudest hope of my life that I may be of some service in this work. (Cheers.) Whatever it may be, it can be but little in return for all the kindness and forbearance that I have received. With malice toward none, with charity for all, it is for us to resolve that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

There is a great sound of cheering. It dies down, and a boy passes through the lounge and calls out "Last act, ladies and gentlemen." The people disperse, and the box doors are closed. SUSAN is left alone and there is silence.

After a few moments, BOOTH appears. He watches SUSAN and sees that her gaze is fixed away from him. He creeps along to the centre box and disengages a hand from under his cloak. It holds a revolver. Poising himself, he opens the door with a swift movement, fires, flings the door to again, and rushes away. The door is thrown open again, and the OFFICER follows in pursuit. Inside the box, MRS. LINCOLN is kneeling by her husband, who is supported by STANTON. A DOCTOR runs across the lounge and goes into the box. There is complete silence in the theatre. The door closes again.

Susan (who has run to the box door, and is kneeling there, sobbing): Master, master! No, no, not my master!

The other box doors have opened, and the occupants with others have collected in little terror-struck groups in the lounge. Then the centre door opens, and STANTON comes out, closing it behind him.

Stanton: Now he belongs to the ages.

In 1931/32 Alastair was asked to go the The Old Vic for the season where Harcourt Williams was directing and Ralph Richardson and Phyllis Thomas played the leads.