Dan Bassuk was responsible in 1990 for inaugurating the group. He wrote, “During the previous decade, while studying Lincoln, I came to know several people who impersonated the Lincolns. On a trip to Hildene, Robert Todd Lincoln’s mansion in Vermont, I met Abraham and Mary in the flesh, also known as Robert and Janet Taylor. Finally, I decided to “Link the Lincolns”, and announced the formation of a new Lincoln group in the Lincoln Herald with the motto “Now He Belongs to the Stages”. Jim Hitchcock of Florida was the first Abe to join. What began with a score of Abe’s and three Mary Todd’s, grew to more than 4 score and 7, and Stan Wernz became our 100th Abe in 1997.”
There is a full interview of Dan Bassuk by Chris Small here.
In 1991 Bruce Hanks of Minnesota and Ed Francisco of New Jersey joined Bassuk for a presidential gathering. A photograph of “the three Abes” made the front page of the premiere edition of LINCARNATIONS, our newsletter. It has been exciting to join other Abe Lincolns for talks at historical societies and Civil War Round Tables, and perform with Mary Lincolns in costume.
The famous Lincoln-Douglas debates were reenacted in seven Illinois cities, and shown on C-SPAN in 1994. Six ALP members were chosen to debate, and twenty videotapes recorded these events, which were made available to the ALP as well as educational institutions across the country.
By 1995 the ALP had 76 Abes and 22 Marys, and through the wise urging of Jim Sayre, our first convention was held in Lexington, Kentucky with 34 Abe’s attending. Conventions followed in Springfield, Illinois (1996); Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (1997); Charleston, Illinois (1998); Burbank, California (1999); Hodgenville, Kentucky (2000); Beckley, West Virginia (2001); Fort Wayne, Indiana (2002); Lincoln City, Indiana (2003); Vandalia, Illinois (2004); Detroit, Michigan (2005); Cincinnati, Ohio (2006); Mt. Pleasant, Iowa (2007); Alton, Illinois (2008); Washington, DC (2009); Elizabethtown, Kentucky (2010); Greeneville, Tennessee (2011); Decatur, IL (2012); Columbus, Ohio (2013); Natchez, Mississippi (2014); Vandalia, Illinois (2015); Spencer County, Indiana (2016); Lexington, Kentucky (2017); Freeport, Illinois (2018); Amicalola Falls, Georgia (2019), as more and more Lincolns wanted to learn from one another and renew friendships. The Covid-19 pandemic interrupted our planned gatherings in 2020 and 2021, but conferences resumed in 2022 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Many members have received awards for their noteworthy ALP work. Seven Lincolns and a Mary have written books about the 16th President and First Lady. The ALP has been featured in Americana (1992), Reenactor’s Journal (1994), Lincoln Herald (1994), Lincoln Lore (1997), The Rail Splitter (1997) American Heritage (1999), People Magazine (2000), and Time Magazine (2005), rededication of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (2005), and most recently National Geographic (2022), as well as numerous books. Our members have been placed in movies, documentaries (multiple Lincolns appear in “Being Lincoln, Men in Hats” about the ALP, which is available on DVD), plays, TV, contemporary art displays, national public radio, parades, schools and colleges. During our years, John Wilkes Booth has dared to make only two appearances, assassinating President McClerren during one performance of “Our American Cousin ,” and appearing again during the performance of “Our American Cousin” at the 2013 Conference.
In 2005 our President and ALP Founder passed from this life. Stan Wernz, 1st Vice President, assumed the Presidency. He continued to lead our group until retiring in April, 2022. At the annual meeting in Leavenworth, KS, Life member John Cooper was elected President Stan was awarded the honor of being named President Emeritus.
The activities of our members continues with appearances in documentaries and at numerous prestigious events. Our conferences have also been recognized as worthwhile events for members and non-members alike. We attempt to have our gatherings educational, inspirational and entertaining. Conference hosts have at times chosen to re-enact special events in Lincoln’s life, or tangential thereto. A visit to the ALP website and the Past Conferences Galleries (under Events) offers a pictorial view of the breadth of conference activities.
In 2006 we welcomed an American History Teacher with his class while at the Barnard Lincoln Statue at Lytle Park (which Robert Lincoln opposed). Subsequently that teacher visited China, taking some Lincoln materials with him. There he found Lincoln in a history book used in Chinese Schools. The teacher commented, “….Lincoln still emerges in Chinese culture head and shoulders over the European unifiers….” And there the ALP mission “to keep the legacy of Lincoln alive” took on a new dimension, driving home that Lincoln is a Global figure.
The Association of Lincoln Presenters, a not for profit organization, is incorporated under the laws of the State of Delaware. The group has tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The ALP is also classified as a public charity under sections 509(a)(1) and 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to the group are deductible under section 170 of the Code, and the ALP is qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers and gifts under section 2055, 2106 or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code.
Visitors are welcome to join us by registering for our conferences. We are eager to enroll new members, whether re-enactors or patrons. If interested, contact an ALP Board Member.