NATCHEZ ’14 NEWSLETTER #1

NATCHEZ ’14 NEWSLETTER #1

I am sitting on a wrought-iron bench on the bluff of the Mississippi, “Father of Waters”, in Natchez, Mississippi. I am watching bolts of lightning landing on Louisiana, and thunder is now audible as a breeze blows. The storm will soon be over the water, where a thin barge the length of a football field is being pushed by a tugboat, a knife gliding downstream. Last evening I watched a multi-hued sunset as the fiery orange ball went down between the metalwork of the bridge to Vidalia. It was a fitting end of a day filled with many meetings and sights in planning your exciting 2014 A.L.P. convention in Natchez, oldest city on the Mississippi River and fabulous capital of the cotton empire of Civil War days.

.This is my 5th visit to Natchez and Vicksburg in the last 3 years. I still haven’t seen all the wonderful sights. The area is alive with history, culture, beauty–a feast for all 5 senses.

.City of Natchez  

Visit Natchez  

The Natchez Experience Video  

.When I first learned of Vicksburg’s role in the Civil War and toured the battlefield and military park, I was blown away. For those of you who have not attended our convention the past 3 years, I fought hard and persistently and promised to create a fabulous annual convention for us here. I have been the sole planner, living far way near San Francisco. It has been a struggle, but fun. In this first report to you, I shall describe many of the great events I have lined up for you next April 10-13. Then I shall ask you to fill out a brief survey, as I need your opinions in order to plan and cost things out best. For those who have heard my earlier pitches, please be patient and realize that somehow quite a number of our members have not been attending the conventions; my hope is to make it easier to come on down by putting on the most rewarding and stimulating program ever for all.

.Lincoln did walk on Mississippi soil, probably in Natchez or Vicksburg. In The Battle Cry of Freedom there is a quote that Lincoln stopped along the Sugar Coast to pick up supplies on his flatboat trip to New Orleans in 1828, where he saw the gut-wrenching slave market. He commanded the Anaconda strategy in the War to control the Mississippi, saying Vicksburg was “the key I have to have in my pocket.” He got it the day after Gettysburg, following a 6-week siege and shelling that forced the people to live in caves eating rats. But Natchez was politically and economically a North-leaning city full of hundreds of (mostly Northern) mil- lionaires (“Nabobs”) from cotton, sugar, and lumber. They built incredible mansions in Natchez. It had no military importance and was occupied but preserved. Only its slave market (2nd to New Orleans’, but run in a gentlemanly way) perished. Natchez became a Nat’l. Historical Park in the 1990′s. The citizens in the Deep South have mellowed in these 150 years, and I have encountered zero ill will toward me, Lincoln, or the North in all my trips. In fact, everyone has been very friendly, and often highly excited and enthusiastic about us.

.I am incorporating in this convention all of the great features of the last few meetings. We shall stay at the National Historic Landmark Eola Hotel of 1927 with its sumptuous lobby. There will be a half-day academic session with 2 featured speakers, both from Mississippi State University. One is a 5th generation local, the other a northerner. They are world-famous and will give balanced views we may never have heard. Our own members as well as invited impersonators will give 20-minute lectures on a number of topics. After all, we are the largest repository of knowledge on Lincoln and the War! The theme of this convention is Civil War and Reconciliation with the South. The local schools will be sending reps to the session, also open to the public.

.We’ll tour the Frogmore cotton plantation across the river, learn of its slavery days and the effects of the Civil War on it and the people, breaking for hoe cake and mint julep. We’ll also have a short, very moving program at the site of the slave market in Natchez with gospel music and National Park Service participation.

We’ll spend a half-day Sunday on the Spring Pilgrimage, since 1932 a pageant in which the ante bellum mansions are opened to the public for tours, many by the family members still living there 160-220 years later. This is a really fascinating peek into how people contended with their environment and developed a highly sophisticated society (albeit unjust). The folks dress up in period costumes and are full of neat stories. On Friday evening we’ll have a mini-feast in 2 of the best homes (they used to show off their wealth at 17-course dinners). We’ll learn about southern cuisine and music.

.Saturday will be a very busy day in Vicksburg. We’ll set out early. Our tour guides will beGen. Parker Hills, the world’s expert on Grant’s Vicksburg campaign, and our Larry Clowers, a world expert on Grant. We’ll visit several sites of early battles and canal digging, then the Visitors Center and exhibition of the sunken and restored northern ironclad Cairo. Then we’ll have a narrated tour with stops in the huge military park with its 1300 monuments, some enormous, many with gorgeous bronze artwork. There’s even a new, small monument with Lincoln and Davis, off the beaten path. After that we’ll put on a free program for Vicksburg. I call it a Reconciliation Forum for Reconstruction. Lincoln, recovered from injury, along with Grant, Douglass, Stanton, Lee, and Davis, will have a roundtable discussion of how to reconstruct the defeated South. This mock session should be quite an interesting freestyle event, followed by a press conference and statement. PR will go out broadly, and I expect a packed house. A color guard and playing of Dixie and Battle Hymn of the Republic will take place. Our banquet will end the evening at our hotel, again with auction. But it’ll be more attended, by up to 200 paying public as a fundraiser for us and the Historic Natchez Foundation. There will be some valuable donated items sold at bargain prices. Souvenir photos will be taken at each table. There will be music and an hour of dramatic presentations by our members and the special impersonators.

.On Sunday we’ll view the ornate Natchez Cathedral (yup, the real McCoy!) with its painted ceiling and enormous stained glass panels. Then we’ll have an open Sunday service at Trinity Episcopal Church with its Tiffany stained glass windows. Frederick Douglass will deliver the sermon on Reconciliation, followed by mingling with the public. The last event will be part 2 of the Grant campaign bus tour, visiting battle sites of his daring maneuver to get behind Vicksburg via Jackson to the east. There will be an early, short tour ending at Jackson Airport

.For those leaving Sunday afternoon and a later, longer tour ending up at an inexpensive motel for flights out in the early morning from Jackson (which is often much cheaper than Sunday flying). Thus you will be bussed from and to Jackson Airport, which is 115 miles from Natchez (2 hours) to the southwest. Baton Rouge Airport has far fewer flights (none direct), is 90 miles south of Natchez, but still nearly a 2-hour drive and doesn’t fit in with Grant campaign tour. If you need to come into there, you’ll be picked up there, but it may be more expensive and more wait time. My plan is to reduce your travel expenses by forgoing your car, which is expensive to bring or rent, and of little use there. (More on this concept next month.) Early April is the peak of high season there, nice weather, and the area is a mecca for tourists. So, start planning for this trip now, and save up–airfares are now often very low, but some are already sold out!

.I hope you will attend this hybrid Natchez-Vicksburg convention and feel what it was like to be a southerner (free or slave) during peace and war. There is so much to see and do that I have scheduled events through Sunday around 8 P.M. I am trying to avoid missing major events by those leaving earlier on Sunday. There will be time to stroll on the river bluff and in town, and socializing time before and during dinners as well as on the longer bus rides, with box lunches including southern specialties (ever eaten hushpuppies, or heard of Hummingbird Cake?).

.                                              Sincerely,

                 Norman Zucker

                 (707) 658-2441

.

VERY IMPORTANT SURVEY (HELP!)

.

Please take a few minutes to answer these several questions anonymously, even if you do not intend to join us in Natchez. Just reply to this email (to me at zooch2@aol.com), giving the number of the question and a brief answer. If you received a paper copy and don’t have email,reply by letter to Norman Zucker, 484 Liberty Road, Petaluma, CA               94952

I realize you may be drowning in emails, or be busy with coming holidays, but I do need your responses by November 10. Thanks greatly!

.1. Which (if any) of these recent annual conventions did you attend? 

A) Washington;  B) Hodgenville; C) Greeneville;  D) Decatur;  E) Columbus.  If none, why? Comments?

.2. Are you planning to attend, or leaning toward it, next April?  How many in your party? If not, why?

.3. If you attend it, are you planning to drive there, or leaning toward it?  If so, how many would be in your car? How many road miles is it to Natchez?

.4. Airport bus pick-up and drop-off cost will depend on number of passengers. For a 115-mile one-way fare, I foresee a ticket price of $35-45. Does that seem OK? If not, tell me what you think.

.5. Since only 13 people evaluated the last convention, tell me, from most to least important, how you rate these issues: a) hotel price; b) meals; c) historical events and sites; d) presentations; e) relax/socialize time; f) getting home Sunday night.

.6. Do you have or might obtain any items (Lincoln or not) for our auction that might bring in more than a small amount (over $25)?

.7. Would you like to do a

A) 20-minute lecture at the academic session on one of a number of topics?

B) 3-7 minute presentation at the banquet?

If so, please give me your name.

 –

Robert Brugler          

 

Abraham Lincoln Historian & Presenter

Hodgenville Results

Thanks to Jim Sayre, here are the results of the Lincoln’s Day activities in Hodgenville.
Just wanted to give you the results of the Lincoln look-alike contest this year.
Abe
1 Chet Damron
2 Larry Elliott
3 Chris Killmeirer {soon to be a member of the ALP}
Mary
1 Melanie VanTassell
2 Mary Elliott
3 Susan Miller
Jim

From Murray Cox:

In preparing for a presentation on Lincoln’s involvement in weapons, I learned a bit more about the Trent Affair that many may not be aware of.
We no doubt are all familiar with the Trent affair, and with Lincoln’s decision to return the captured Confederates Mason and Slidell, who had been removed from the British mail steamer Trent,  rather than risk war with England.  “One war at a time” is said to have been his remark.  My recent reading of Robert Bruce’s book Lincoln and the Tools of War (Bobbs-Merrill, 1956) delves deeper into issues that surely played a part in his decision.
There are two elements in the Trent Affair of which I don’t recall hearing of previously.  One concerned the supply of potassium nitrate (niter or salt-peter) which was needed for gunpowder. The second was protection of northern ports.
Regarding niter, most of it at that time came from India, a British possession. By May, the Du Pont Company advised that only a six months’ supply remained the in the U.S.  In an attempt to ensure a supply, the Navy had sent a man to England to quietly obtain all that was available.  The purchases had been made and were being loaded for shipment when the Trent affair broke.  When it did, the British prohibited all export of niter.
Regarding protection of northern ports, it should be noted that the British were already armoring some of its ships.  It should also be noted that, while rifled cannon were deemed to be superior to smooth-bore guns, those in control of ordnance continued to feel that smooth-bored was better, although the newer rifled canon would be needed to penetrate an armored ship.  Around this same time, McClellan had set up a Military Armament Board to decide on the best field artillery and cannon for fortifications. After a review by six distinguished military men, the board realized that there were not any guns protecting northern ports that would be capable of defending against even a lightly armored ship.
The failure to release Mason and Slidell surely would make the critical supply of niter unavailable for prosecuting the war, and could easily lead to war with Britain.  When it was then realized that any armored British ship could sail into any northern port with little fear of serious damage, and the ensuing disaster for the Union was a real possibility, it is no wonder that Lincoln felt that “one war at a time” was wise, and had the men released.

From the President

From Stan Wernz:

The Abraham Lincoln Library & Museum at Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, TN, has announced a “Civil War Sesquicentennial Event for April 21, 2012.  The topic is “War in the Mountains,” and features Dr. Earl J. Hess (The Stewart McClelland Distinguished Professor in Humanities, Lincoln Memorial University), Dr. John Inscoe (Albert B. Saye Professor of History, University of Georgia), and Dr. Steven Nash (Assistant Professor of History, East Tennessee State University).  Dr. Charles Hubbard (Executive Director, The Abraham Lincoln Institute for the Study of Leadership and Public Policy, Lincoln Memorial University) will be the Moderator.  This event will be held in Arnold Auditorium, at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum.   For more information, contact Carol Campbell(423-869-6439) or visit the website at www.Imunet.edu/museum.html.

Gerald Payn ( gmpayn@sssnet.com ), Editor of “Lincarnations,” is preparing the next issue of “Lincarnations.”  If you have an article for publication, please send it to Gerald.

Presenting the Gettysburg Address

Also from Murray Cox:

Presenting the Gettysburg Address:  I came across the following description of Lincoln’s presentation of the Gettysburg Address, with the source cited as an article by George Gitt, “Frist Meetings with Lincoln in War Day,:, Liberty magazine, November 1933.
“Lincoln began to speak.  Word followed word so slowly that the value of each syllable was unduly magnified. ‘Fourscore and seven years ago our forefathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation’-here there was a decided pause; this pause I well remember because I held my breath, wondering what had happened to cause it-’conceived in liberty’-another pause and more high emphasis, this time on the word ‘liberty’-’and dedicated to the proposition that all mean are created equal.’
Beginning with the next sentence he spoke more rapidly, but somewhere near the middle of the address he slowed again to the tempo of the opening words…The deep resonant voice contineud:’…whether tath nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.’  These words were spoken very slowly indeed.  With the next sentence he quickened his delivery, and when he came to the ‘gave the last full measure of devotion,’ tears trickled down his cheeks…”

Where will we meet in 2014?

From Murray Cox:
Where will we meet in 2014?: When we meet for our annual conference in April we will be deciding on the location of our 2014 conference, whcih will need to be a place where Lincoln walked. If you would like to have the conference at a location near to you, and are willing to organize it, please prepare a proposal for our consideration to vote on.

Life as Lincoln Film

—– The following message is from Lonn Pressnall.
 ‘Just a note to remind our members that the long-awaited DVD:  Life as Lincoln is now available.  One may order it atwww.LifeasLincolnfilm.com     Laying all subjectivity aside, I think it is successful and portrays our association in a very favorable light. The production crew  highlight many great moments in Washington, D.C. and Clinton, Maryland.  Several ALP members are interviewed at the end as to why they do what they do. Please pass along this info. to our members and Dean Dorrell.

 

Thanks for your help.

Your Obedient Servant,

A. Lincoln  aka  Lonn Pressnall

Questions for Abe

I’m working on a new program I’m going to call something like “Around the Pickle Barrel with Abe”. I’m going to set up a rocking chair and a pickle barrel with a sign inviting visitors to sit down and discuss (19th Century) politics, Lincoln’s life, the Civil War, etc.

I want to set out a list of starter questions to “prime the pump” so to speak. My question is, what are some of the more interesting questions you have been asked as Lincoln?

The most UNIQUE one I ever got was from a Kindergarten student who wanted to know if “…Mr. Lincoln’s hands (were) bigger than Michael Jordan’s?”

Dean Dorrell