So, today was the premiere of the new play by Dave Shakespeare: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln. It was received warm to middling reviews and responses from the unfortunate souls that were willing to indulge my artistic endeavour. In the same of 4 sheets of A4 it recounts not only Lincoln’s death, but also the rumbling political divides in America at that juncture in history: the Radical Republicans against the conservatives, and of North versus South.
THE ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN
By Dave Shakespeare
SCENE 1. – A BATTELFIELD IN THE SOUTH (APPOTAMOX)
The Confederacy has finally surrendered, and the Civil War is to end.
Darn blast it! You Northerners have finally bested us, what with your fancy machines and factories, and greater population numbers.
Now now, General Lee. Be a fair sport.
I guess you Northern Yankees will want to come down here and reconstruct us, telling us what to do with our ways. Especially with all of this Emancipation nonsense! Now the slaves are freed you’ll probably want us to allow them to vote next, and actually give them rights!!
Well, I can’t see that Lincoln has such wild ideas planned. But, he has a few tricks up his sleeve, that is for sure.
SCENE 2. – THE WHITE HOUSE
Lincoln is sat in a chair in his office in the White House, smoking a pipe. Senator Sumner, a Radical Republican, is in discussion with him. Also present is Vice-President Andrew Johnson.
Mr President, I’m telling you, the next step now that the war is over is go further and provide full rights to our African Americans.
Full rights? What in blazes! Isn’t being free enough?
If we don’t allow them to have rights, such as to vote, or own land, we’ll see the South retake control. It might take generations before we have true equality down there.
(scratching his chin)
Hmm, actually, I guess that if we allow them to vote it would mean that we would have a secure base in the South that will continue to vote Republican in the years ahead.
Rights for the blacks! Damn, Abe! The South will go bananas over such a proposal.
Mr Johnson, the South have lost the war. The right to reconstruct is in our hands, the victorious Republicans of the North.
Now, now, fellas. How about I ponder this issue tonight whilst I go see a play. Tomorrow I will resolve it with my brilliant mind and insight.
SCENE 3. – FORD’S THEATRE
Lincoln has settled down to the play Our American Cousin, with a plateful of snacks. His wife, Mary Lincoln, is sat beside him.
I’ve heard great reviews of this play, Abe.
(mouth full of popcorn)
It’s great to get to the theatre again, Abe. That blasted war really occupied our time.
(mouth full of nachos)
Ummm… yes, dear.
And now that the war is over, we can be free again and visit the theatre as often as possible. Of course, whilst you reconstruct the South.
(mouth full of chocolate buttons)
Ummm… indeed, dear.
Then, all of a sudden, John Wilkes Booth bursts into the room. He has a gun pointed at Lincoln.
JOHN WILKES BOOTH
For the Confederacy!
John Wilkes Booth shoots Lincoln, and then jumps down to the stage.
JOHN WILKES BOOTH
Doctors!! The president has been shot!
SCENE 4. – THE WHITE HOUSE
Sumner and is talking to the new president of the United States, Andrew Johnson.
Well, Mr-New-President, how about we resolve this issue about reconstructing the South? Us Radical Republicans have a clear plan about sweeping away the old racist attitudes, and ensuring that the old plantation owners play fair.
Actually, Senator, I have my own ideas of the South.
And what ideas are these?
Basically, I’m going to oppose you smug pompous Radical Republicans, and shelter the South from your attempts to completely upset the balance of society down there.
This is madness! We control Congress and we shall oppose you.
I’m the president of the United States. How dare you!
We’ll impeach you, you fool!
I’ll like to see you try.
SCENE 5. – CONGRESS
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE
And all those in favour of impeaching President Johnson shout aye.
The room shouts aye.
SCENE 6. – THE SOUTH
Well, the Radicals are pushing through vast reform: allowing the blacks to vote, to have equal rights, and even that Freedmen’s Bureau providing them with money and opportunities. What is the world coming to?!
Have no fear. Yes, the Republicans are pushing their weight around, but soon will come the time of states’ rights to prosper again. And we will bring forth the black codes to restrict these rights and to show those Yankees that Reconstruction will have no effect on us.
Evil laughter resounds around the room (muhahahahahahaa).