6 November 2010
Click on any Photo for a larger view
(Courtesy of Ellen Kanervo) Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010, marks the 150th anniversary of the 1860 U.S. presidential election, an important event which set the stage for the American Civil War. To remember this milestone, several local groups are sponsoring on Nov. 6 a re-enactment of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, an antebellum luncheon, and campaigning for the 1860 presidential election, as a prelude to the community’s Civil War Sesquicentennial commemoration. Dr. Richard Gildrie, APSU professor emeritus of history, and Whit McMahan, Clarksville native and Lincoln impersonator, will stage the highlights of the Lincoln-Douglas debates in Dixon Park, beginning at 11 a.m. A series of seven debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas took place in 1858 as the two candidates campaigned for U.S. Senator from Illinois. The debates previewed the issues Lincoln would face in the aftermath of his victory in the 1860 presidential election. The main issue discussed in all seven debates was slavery. Throughout the morning, state Rep. Joe Pitts will portray the Montgomery County campaign chairman for Stephen Douglas, who beat out Lincoln for the Senate seat in 1858 and then ran against him for president in 1860. State Rep. Curtis Johnson will campaign for his fellow Republican Abraham Lincoln. Former Secretary of State Riley Darnell will portray Tennessee native son John Bell, who ran for president on the Constitutional Union ticket, and state Sen. Tim Barnes will serve as Montgomery County campaign chair for Kentuckian and Southern Democrat John Breckinridge. After an antebellum lunch of fried chicken, fresh seasonal vegetables and homemade pies in the train station, those attending will hear short speeches on behalf each of the candidates and then be given ballots to vote for their choice for president. Fortunately or unfortunately, their votes won’t change history, however, and the actual 1860 winners in Montgomery County will be announced. This re-enactment, which takes place 150 years to the day after the 1860 election, is sponsored by the Montgomery County Historical Society, Clarksville-Montgomery County Arts and Heritage Development Council, and the Clarksville-Montgomery County Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.