• President Lincoln Visits the Indiana Senate

    February 21, 2011 No comments

    Last week, the Indiana Senate turned back the hands of time and welcomed a special guest to its chamber – Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th president.

    DSC_0073Portrayed by Brownsburg professional photographer Wilbur Tague, Lincoln delivered his renowned Gettysburg address to senators, student pages and other visitors. This event was designed to celebrate the life of Lincoln in advance of President’s Day.

    Tague, pictured here with Sen. Connie Lawson and Senate page Jordan Whitaker, has been a professional photographer since 1976. It was the same year he, himself, became a living picture of history.

    “People would often tell me if I’d grow a beard, I’d look just like Abraham Lincoln,” Tague said.

    So, in the year of America’s bicentennial, Tague grew a beard and started portraying Lincoln for schools, civic and military groups. He hasn’t been clean-shaven since.

    Now, he does a dozen or so appearances a year.

    “Indiana history is a fourth-grade subject,” Tague said. “So I speak to a lot of fourth-graders. I remind them that Abraham Lincoln arrived in Indiana as a seven-year-old boy in 1816, the same year Indiana became a state.”

    Lincoln spent his formative years – from age seven to 21 – in Spencer County, located in southern Indiana.

    Naturally, when he speaks to children, a lot of questions come Tague’s way.

    “They usually want to know how old I am,” Tague said with laugh. “Last week, I was asked that question and told the kids I was 202 years old.”

    Even though he has delivered it many times, reciting the Gettysburg address remains a special duty for Tague. The speech was delivered by Lincoln during the Civil War on the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Penn.

    “After he delivered it at the dedication of the Gettysburg battlefield, Lincoln thought he had failed,” Tague said. “He was quoted as saying ‘that speech did not scour,’ an agricultural term meaning the plow did not cut the earth. Great orators of that day spoke for hours, not minutes and strived to be comprehensive, not concise. Today, Lincoln’s 272-word speech is listed as one of the top 10 literary pieces ever written in world history.”

    Tague said delivering the speech before the Indiana Senate was a momentous occasion for him, ranking with several other big events for which he’s donned the famous black stove-pipe hat:

    • Tague has been a popular guest at Civil War reenactments for the Mooresville Parks Department as well as for the Indiana History Festival in Military Park.
    • Two years ago, as the nation marked Lincoln’s 200th birthday, Tague spoke during a large reading convention; and
    • In August 2001, just days before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Penn., he delivered the speech before as many as 5,000 National Guard soldiers and officers who were at the Indianapolis Convention Center for their national meeting. “I took part in a historical military video that was produced for that convention,” Tague remembered. “When the video was presented and ended, I walked on stage as Lincoln. People told me afterwards many of the generals had tears in their eyes.”

    For those who would like to watch Tague deliver Lincoln’s most famous speech, the event is available online in the Senate archives section by clicking http://www.in.gov/legislative/2442.htm and selecting the Feb. 15 session.

    Posted by in Local News

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