While the popular conception of Lincoln as the Liberator of the Slave is true historically, there is a deeper view of his life and character. He was the savior, if not the real creator, of the American Union of free Democratic States. His proclamation of emancipation was purely an incident of war. The first policy of his administration was to save the Union. To this fact we owe a united Nation to-day. It is this truth of history which I try to make a living reality in my play.
The scenes relating to the issues of our National life have been drawn from authentic records. The plot of the action is based on the letter of Colonel John Nicolay to Major Hay, dated August 25, 1864, in which the following opening paragraph is found:
"Hell is to pay. The New York politicians have got a stampede on that is about to swamp everything. Raymond and the National Committee are here to-day. R. thinks a Commission to Richmond is about the only salt to save us; while the President sees and says it would be utter ruination. The matter is now undergoing consultation. Weak-kneed damned fools are in the movement for a new candidate to supplant the President. Everything is darkness, doubt, and discouragement."
No liberty has been taken with an essential detail of history in the development of the action except to slightly shift the dates of two incidents for dramatic unity. In neither case does the change of date affect the validity of the scene as used.
DIVISION INTO ACTS
Prologue: The Lincoln cabin in the woods of Indiana, 1820.
Act I: In the President's room, the morning of August 23, 1864.
Act II: The same, that evening.
Act III: Scene 1. Jefferson Davis' room three days later, in Richmond. Morning.
Scene 2. Same as Acts I and II.
Epilogue—Victory. The Platform of the second Inauguration, March 4, 1865, before the Capitol at Washington.
A MAN OF THE PEOPLE PROLOGUE
PERSONS OF THE PROLOGUEAbe A Boy of Ten. Sarah His Sister. Tom Lincoln His Father. Nancy His Mother. The Doctor An Old-fashioned Pioneer.
Set Scene: The rough-hewn log cabin of Tom Lincoln is seen in the center surrounded by the forest wilderness of Southern Indiana, 1820.
The cabin door is cut in level with the ground. There is no shutter to the door and no window to the cabin.
Right and Left of the door opening are rude benches of split logs. On the walls are stretched a coon and a small bear, squirrel and muskrat skins. In the foreground on the right is seen an old-fashioned wash pot set on three stones. Near the wash pot is fixed in the ground a pole, on the top of which are hung six gourds cut for martin swallows to nest in. Beside it are a rude bench and two wash tubs. On the left is a crude settee made of a split log with legs set in augur holes and a rough back made of saplings. An old-fashioned doctor's saddle-bags hang across the back of the settee. The trees are walnut, beech and oak—undergrowth of dogwood, sumac and wild grapevines. These vines, festooned over the cabin, give a sinister impression....