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Lincoln, Civil War takes the RI stage

March 13, 2011

There is an RI connection to Abe Lincoln

BY JAMES MEROLLA

Mary Todd Lincoln came to Cranston last week. So did Lincoln’s Vice President Hannibal Hamlin.
They were accompanied by three other members of the Attleboro GOP in authentic 1860s array to discuss Abraham Lincoln in the marvelous confines of the impressive Governor Sprague Mansion.
The decorated visit put the ‘civil’ in Civil War.

The “Re-enactor” event was sponsored by the Cranston Historical Society, part of a series of events planned throughout 2011. It was also a small precursor of the Attleboro Republican City Committee’s annual Abraham Lincoln Civil War Dinner Theater show to be held at 1 and 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 12.
At the Sprague Mansion last week, Mary Todd Lincoln (Susan Blais) arrived in the year 1861. Her famous Presidential husband was late, as usual, and it was the advent of his 1st Inaugural.
Mary Todd was excited “to move to Washington City,” and was planning to redecorate the “outdated” White House. She marveled at the “free gifts” – clothes, hats, jewelry, etc., given to her by local merchants, if they would just sponsor their wares when she arrived at the Capitol.
After her presentation, guests were welcomed to share their own favorite Lincoln quotes.
The event is one of several fetes planned this year by the Cranston History Society, many involving the Gov. Sprague Mansion.
They include:
*SATURDAY, APRIL 16: Gingerbread 150th Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemorating April 14 Fort Sumter Day. 11 a.m. Displays open to the public from noon to 4 p.m. Guests are encouraged to build replica gingerbread Civil War Fort Sumter. Audience in attendance will choose the “best” in the adult and junior categories. There will be tours of the Sprague Mansion and light refreshments. Donation at the door.
*MONDAY, MAY 30: Memorial Day event to honor Civil War veterans and all veterans, past and present, as the Society and other groups go to Pocasset Cemetery with a collation at the Sprague Mansion Museum. Details and times to be announced.
*SATURDAY, JUNE 18: The 7th Annual Rochambeau Strawberry Biscuit Tea at the Joy Homestead, 156 Scituate Ave., Cranston. 6 p.m. Enjoy an evening of pleasantries including strawberry and biscuits and tea celebrating the march of the French forces of King Louis XVI through Cranston to join General Washington to defeat the British. Donation $5.
*SUNDAY, JUNE 26: Sprague Mansion Carriage and Car Show, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (1351 Cranston Street). Family fun event. Enjoy the Society’s rare carriages on view along with competitive collector cars on the grounds of the mansion. Trophies awarded, DJ, light refreshments, demonstrations. Donation at the gate. Tours available in the Carriage House and Mansion Museum at discounted rates ($15 per car entry, set up at 8 a.m.).
*SEPT. 3-4: The 4th Annual Lincoln’s War Governor Takes Command and Sprague Birthday celebration. To commemorate the appointment of Gov. William Sprague to command, a Civil War Military living history – cannon and musket drills – is scheduled on the grounds of the mansion. Families are encouraged to attend and stroll the grounds; demonstrations, music, lectures and camp life will transform the grounds into an afternoon of R.I. Civil War history. Flag raising ceremony. Speakers and book signing. Donation at the gate.
Equally ‘Civil’ in Attleboro, tickets are now on sale for the GOP’s Saturday, Mach 12 Lincoln Dinner Theater event at the Good News Hall in Good News Chapel, 235 West St., Attleboro.
The family-friendly event is open to the public, dress is casual and tickets are $15.
Some two dozen members of the Attleboro GOP will recreate history as re-enactors of the Lincoln administration. During the event, guests will “meet” and “talk” with Lincoln’s staff, family and friends, dressed authentically in period costumes as they share tales of life in the 1860s.
The evening re-enacts March 1861 as the President-elect gathers at the Willard Hotel in Washington on the eve of his being sworn in as the 16th President of the United States.
In attendance will be wife Mary Todd, their children, outgoing President Buchanan, Vice President Hannibal Hamlin, Secretary of State John Hay and others.
The interactive dinner theater will include a full authentic Civil War dinner with dishes from the era, including tomato soup, corn bread, rabbit (chicken substitute), seasoned vegetables, raisin pie and homemade cookies. Dancing, music and a short play will follow this.
Guests will see soap-making demonstrations, Victorian clothing, household items and a large collection of Lincoln memorabilia.
Fore more information about the Attleboro GOP event, contact Susan Blais (Mary Todd Lincoln) at 508-226-8020. For more information on all the Cranston Historical events, call 401-944-9226 or go to Cranstonhistoricalsociety.org.

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