Lincoln: Remembering a Great Leader

Steve Holgate as President Lincoln


Light poured through the parted curtains, framing the podium while the speaker made his way across the floor. In solemn silence he paused for a moment before facing the assembled crowd. Outside in the garden the leaves were falling, marking the passage of a warm autumn day. His face was worn and chiseled. His hair was brushed but also tussled. He had a beard but no mustache. President Lincoln began to speak, “Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” The words rang in everyone’s heart, memorized in grade school but this was not Gettysburg.
In late October 2014, Meridian International Center welcomed Steve Holgate to perform his Lincoln Press Conference. Mr. Holgate has been a Lincoln presenter for twelve years and his performances offer rare insights into the life of Abraham Lincoln, including his personal tragedies as well as some of his favorite jokes and even his poetry. Several guests from local Lincoln oriented organizations were in attendance including employees from President Lincoln’s Cottage and the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia. At the press conference the audience was encouraged to act as journalists and ask President Lincoln questions after he recounted much of his life. The questions were difficult but Mr. Lincoln answered each appropriately (even with some Civil War era wit).
Some of Mr. Lincoln’s replies offered intimations of his opinions on the present. In response to a question concerning Ulysses S. Grant owning slaves, Mr. Lincoln responded that Grant emancipated the only slave that he is known to have owned and that he doesn’t like to search too deeply for others’ faults. President Lincoln also suggested turning to faith in divisive times. In the historic setting of Meridian House, the voice of a great American leader continued to offer advice to his compatriots almost 150 years later.