"Lincoln said you could never fail as long as you never stopped trying."
Nashville actor, Dennis Boggs stands in front of the stained glass window at First Baptist Church in Destin on Wednesday. Boggs portrayed President Abraham Lincoln to students at First Baptist Academy, and at other public schools and library branches this week.
Honestly, Abe Comes Alive for Area Students
Lincoln Presenter, Dennis Boggs visits First Baptist
Academy to impart some presidential wisdom.
by Kari Barlow
The one-man show "Meet Mr. Lincoln", starring Nashville actor Dennis Boggs, was performed for more than 100 elementary and middle school students. The program, sponsored by the Okaloosa County Library Cooperative, was performed at several public schools and library branches this week.
Abraham Lincoln Presenter, Dennis Boggs hold First Baptist Academy student, describing how the president once helped his stepbrother make footprints on the freshly painted walls of his family cabin as a child.
DESTIN - "Keep your promises. Stay in school. Ready every book you can get your hands on." Such was the advice of President Abraham Lincoln, who dropped by First Baptist Academy on Wednesday afternoon. "I was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, on February 12, in the year eighteen hundred and nine," said Lincoln, top hat in hand and dressed smartly in a black suit, starched white shirt and shiny, black bow tie. "My family lived in a one-room log cabin. It had a dirt floor." Pacing slowly and occasionally stroking his neatly trimmed beard, the country's 16th President shared his life's story, recounting a perilous childhood in the backwoods of Kentucky, failed stint as a storekeeper and the astonishing political success that ended in assassination. The one-man show "Meet Mr. Lincoln", starring Dennis Boggs, was performed for more than 100 elementary and middle school students. The program, sponsored by the Okaloosa County Library Cooperative, was performed at several public schools and library branches this week. "Hearing and seeing his character really keeps their attention," said Dean DeMarra, interim principal at First Baptist Academy. "Hopefully, they'll be inspired to read more books and stay in school." Boggs, a community theater veteran, delivered a lively and sometimes solemn account of Lincoln's life, detailing his defeats as well as his victories. "My papa, he needed me to work on the farm, so I quit going to school," he told the students. "But I learned. I would read and write. I wanted to know stuff. And stuff I wanted to know was in books." Boggs went on to reveal Lincoln's introduction to slavery when he sailed farm goods down the Mississippi River to New Orleans for his father. "Why, they had shops and schools and warehouses... There were cathedrals and tall ships in the harbor," he said. "But I saw black slaves in chains - men, women, and children. I saw husbands taken away from their wives." But, he added, his life's biggest challenge was leading the United States during the Civil War. "We were fighting each other," Boggs said as he introduced and recited Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address. "Families in both the north and south were suffering tremendous losses." But rebuilding the country after the war ended was a task Lincoln never finished, Boggs told the students, detailing the fateful April night in Ford's Theatre. "I became the first American President to be assassinated," he said quietly. "I was only 56 years old." As Lincoln, Boggs urged the students to appreciate their education by staying in school, cutting back on television and spending more time reading with their parents. Boggs, who has performed his show across the Southeast for the past four years, said he has always harbored a fascination for Lincoln. "I grew up in Lincoln County, Tennessee. I went to the Lincoln School," he said with a smile. "Every Saturday I went to the Lincoln Theater and at one point my family lived on Lincoln Avenue... He just drew me in." The half-hour show is designed, he said, to present Lincoln's life and accomplishments in a fun light. And though Lincoln offers many lessons, Boggs sums the man up in one word. "Perseverance," he said. "Lincoln said you could never fail as long as you never stopped trying."
THE VOLUNTEER STATE COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENT NEWSPAPER
Former President Abraham Lincoln makes a visit to Volunteer State
Dennis Boggs presents President LIncoln at Volunteer State Community College
The Great Emancipator discusses Frederick Douglas, George Bush, and the real reason behind the Civil War.------by William Hall
On November 17, students and faculty at Vol State were given the rare opportunity to meet a former United States President. Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States and steward of the nation through a time of unparalleled crisis, took the time to speak to those in attendance in the Rochelle Center about his life, his beliefs and his presidential tenure during the tumultuous years of the American Civil War. In an interview with The Settler, Mr. Lincoln went into greater detail about the origins of the conflict and the personal trials of fighting the deadliest war in American history.
The Settler: Mr. Lincoln, It is true, as most Americans believe, that the Civil War was fought over the issue of slavery?
Lincoln: No, the Civil War was not about freeing the slaves. Upon entering the office of the presidency, I had no intention of interfering with slavery where it already existed, but I did intend to restrict its expansion. The struggle was fought in order to ensure the perpetuity of the union. Like Andrew Jackson, I felt that the union must be saved. My paramount objective was to save the union and not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could have saved the union without freeing all the slaves, I would have done that. If I could have saved the union by freeing some slaves and leaving some as they were, I would have done that also. But without the institution of slavery, then the rebellion would never have existed. And without the institution of slavery, the rebellion would have had no reason to continue.
The Settler: Do your anti-slavery views have their origins in your personal religious beliefs?
Lincoln: No. I have always had a strong dislike of slavery. I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not so think and feel.
The Settler: Following the battle of Antietam of 1862, you relieved General George McClellan of his command of the Army of the Potomac and replaced hm with General Ambrose Burnside. What let you to make the decision to replace McClellan?
Lincoln: McClellan was a brilliant organizer of men, but he was reluctant to put his troops in harm's way. Honestly, I think that he loved them too much. Upon removing him from the command of the Army of the Potomac, I told him that if he did not want to use the army, then I would like to borrow it for a while.
The Settler: Through the fall of 1862, the tide of the war was going against the union confederate forces of far lesser numbers had inflicted defeats over the union army at Bull Run, Shiloh, Seven Pines, second Bull Run, and Fredericksburg. On September 22, 1862, five days after the bloody Battle of Antietam, you issued the initial Emancipation Proclamation, effectively freeing slaves in the secessionist states. Were the horrors of Antietam the catalyst behind your issuance of the proclamation?
Lincoln: I had been preparing the document for over six months, and had given the matter considerable thought. As I stated earlier, the emancipation of the slaves was never the intended goal of this war. In fact, I had nullified a similar proclamation issued by General George C. Fremont in Missouri earlier in 1862. The proclamation was a strictly political tactic. At that time, there remained a considerable danger of either France or England, or both, joining the conflict on behalf of the Confederacy. Both France and England were desperately wanting for cotton, and our blockade of southern portrs denied them access to that cotton. Yet in both of these countries, anti-slavery sentiment was strong. The Emancipation Proclamation turned the war into a moral war in the eyes of many, yet the goal of unification of the country was never surpassed by that of freeing the slaves. I only issued the proclamation as a war powers act, and I knew that the law would not hold up legally. That is why I began pushing the Thirteenth Ammendment.
The Settler: Was there ann one particular person to whom you looked for advice during the conflict?
Lincoln: One person who had a great deal of influence on me was Frederick Douglass. To be honest, before I met Mr. Douglass, I did not believe that the black man could be my equal intellectually. Douglass was not only my equal, he was far my superior intellect. I believe that we changed each others' minds about respective races. Douglass convinced me of the value of using black troops in battle when he asked me, "Mr. Lincoln, why fight this war with your good white hand, and leave the good black hand tied behind your back." I decided to put black troops into active combat duty, and they went on to fight aliantly. Over 69,000 black troops died on the battlefield.
The Settler: Mr. Lincoln, you were this country's first Republican President and stewarded the nation through a time of unprecedented crisis. How would you assess the job that our current Republican President is doing handling the ongoing military campaign?
Lincoln: I don't know that I could give an assessment. I would say that we should all pray for President Bush, because he is in a very difficult position. War may be summed up in one word, sadness.
Nashville City Paper
Honestly, It's Fun to Be Abe by Will Ayers
Inside a cavernous building on the Tennessee State Fairgrounds last Thursday, Abraham Lincoln doffed his top hat and settled into a replica of the rocking chair in which he was shot in Ford's Theater 139 years ago. "Hey, it feels pretty good," he said, beaming as he bounced on the maroon velvet. Well, he was assassinated during a comedy, after all. Lincoln, or Dennis Boggs as he is known in these parts, is at the fair this week for Presidents and Patriots, a traveling exhibit that puts America's political past and present on display. Visitors can tour a spot-on replica of the Oval Office decorated to Regan-era specifications. Twelve sets of White House china, the fateful Lincoln chair and other artifacts are on display nearby. Appropriately for this year, the exhibit boasts a voting machine used in Florida during the 2000 election with chads still inside. An infamous butterfly ballot rests nearby. Boggs, who is a Lincoln Presenter, will be on hand at the exhibit with Benjamin Franklin and Andrew Jackson presenters to give monologues on their characters and to answer questions about their history. A full-time presenter for over five years, Boggs has spoken at schools, political rallies, the Lincoln Memorial and even the Grand Ole Opry. He said presenting a dead president isn't nearly as recondite a profession as many would think. "I belong to the Association of Lincoln Presenters," he said matter-of-factly. "There are 153 Lincolns in the country." Before you decide to become number 154, know that being Lincoln isn't easy. It requires hours of study and memorization of speeches. Depending on your age (Boggs is 54) it may require haircoloring as well. And then there are the questions. "Once I was speaking at a school and a child asked me how many rooms there were in the White House when I was Boggs said, chuckling, "I looked at him and said, 'I don't know, but we can sure find out. 'That keeps me researching." Boggs worked as a manager at several grocery stores for over 30 years before he even thought of presenting Lincoln. As it happened, he decided to dabble in theater on a lark in the early 90's. In 1992 a director commented that if Boggs shaved his mustache he could pass for a decent Lincoln, and from there he began presenting part-time at schools. Boggs' company downsized in the mid-90's and let him go. Unemployed, he faced growing medical bills from two shoulder operations and was running out of options. He drove a school bus in Nashville for 2 years, but in 2000 he decided to take up presenting full time. He said he's never looked back. I'm not getting rich, but my needs are getting met, and I'm having more fun than any one person deserves to have," he said. "Sometimes I feel guilty, I have so much fun." In fact, Boggs could indeed get rich. He recently turned down a well-paying TV job in Florida because it didn't suit his tastes. "They had Lincoln at a poolside with a Hawaiian shirt and laptop computer and all these bathing beauties, and I told them I couldn't do it," he said. "I talk about principles, morals, and integrity." But there will be plenty of other chances. Indeed, Boggs sees himself quite busy for the near future. After this fair, he leaves for West Virginia. Later he'll return to his home in Nashville until it's time to head out again. "I never know where this character is going to be asked to speak next," he said. "I look forward to the next venue."