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Lincoln vs. Douglas, a sesquicentennial debate

Posted on February 06, 2009

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The political debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas lasted for hours and drew crowds of more than 15,000. They debated the Western expansion of slavery, the Constitution and the morality of the "peculiar institution."

Re-enactors Jim Getty and Tim Connors will bring the debate to life during a celebration of Lincoln’s bicentennial sponsored by Grand Valley State University’s Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies.

Lincoln vs. Douglas will take place Thursday, February 12, at 7 p.m., in the Gerald R. Ford Museum Auditorium, 303 Pearl St. NW, in downtown Grand Rapids.

“We are extremely fortunate to have the leading Lincoln and Doulgas character interpreters at Grand Valley on Lincoln’s birthday,” said Gleaves Whitney, director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies. “Few debates have done more to stamp the American experience than the seven Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858.”

Jim Getty
Getty, a noted Lincoln historian, will take the stage as Abraham Lincoln. Audiences will see and hear the president recount his homespun stories of youth, his recollections of his personal and political life and his special anguish for Gettysburg. Audiences aboard the steamboat Mississippi Queen, at the National Theater in Washington, and at the Reagan Presidential Library have been entertained by Getty’s unique interpretation of America’s 16th president. He brings to life the president’s special brand of humor and personal torment over the difficult decisions in preserving the Union.

Tim Connors
Connors is director of speech and theater for Freeport Public Schools in Illinois. Under his direction, Freeport has produced nearly two-dozen state qualifiers in the annual Illinois High School Association Speech Competition, eight state finalists and one state champion. He has received multiple awards for his work as an actor and producer in community theater. Connors is a member of the Lincoln-Douglas Society and the Stephen A. Douglas Association. He has been a Stephen A. Douglas re-enactor for the past two years.

For more information, contact the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at (616) 331-2770.

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