Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: Cavalcade of America
Show: Abraham Lincoln: A True American
Date: Feb 12 1936

CAST:
ANNOUNCER
MRS. CRAWFORD (2 lines)
MR. CRAWFORD
YOUNG ABE, Lincoln as a boy
ABRAHAM LINCOLN, a true American
WILLIAM BERRY, Lincoln's business partner
MOVER
WOMAN (2 lines)
MRS. JEFFERSON (4 lines)
MR. JEFFERSON
LITTLE JOE (1 line)
CONSTABLE, of Springfield
AN ACTOR (1 line)
HANNAH ARMSTRONG, an old friend of Lincoln's
WITNESS, in a murder trial
JUDGE (2 lines)
PROSECUTOR (1 line)
WILLIAM HERNDON, Lincoln's law partner
MRS. SARA BUSH LINCOLN, Lincoln's aged stepmother
LOCAL ANNOUNCER (1 line)
TOWNSPEOPLE, of Springfield
COURTROOM CROWD

ANNOUNCER:

The Cavalcade of America!

MFX:

CAVALCADE THEME ... THEN IN BG

ANNOUNCER:

It seems particularly appropriate that this broadcast of the Cavalcade of America, presented by DuPont, should happen to occur on February 12th, the birthday of that beloved American president, Abraham Lincoln, who typifies so many of the fine qualities of American spirit brought out in this series. It is our privilege tonight to reenact several episodes in the life of this rugged, gentle, sensitive soul who knew few comforts but many trials and hardships, and who triumphed over every obstacle through sheer depth of character.

As you sit at your radio this evening, amidst the comforts of modern life, give a thought to the work of the chemists who have made many present-day comforts possible. The ideal of the research chemist is well-described in the phrase which has come to be known as the DuPont chemists' pledge -- Better Things for Better Living Through Chemistry.

MFX:

CAVALCADE THEME UP AND OUT ... OVERTURE BEGINS, CONTINUES IN BG

ANNOUNCER:

Nowhere in the Cavalcade of America are the qualities and characteristics that we like to term "truly American" so well-exemplified as in the life of the man whose birthday we celebrate this evening. The DuPont Cavalcade Orchestra dedicates its overture to the memory of Abraham Lincoln with a specially-arranged fantasy based on popular American themes.

MFX:

FANTASY OF POPULAR AMERICAN THEMES UP ... INCLUDES "BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC," "BEAUTIFUL DREAMER," "CAMPTOWN RACES," "LISTEN TO THE MOCKINGBIRD," ET CETERA ... THEN OUT ... THEN A GENTLE THEME, IN BG, OUT AT [X]

ANNOUNCER:

One hundred and twenty-seven years ago today, Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin in the wilderness of Kentucky. In the all too brief span of fifty-six years, he arose from poverty, overcame a lack of education, and -- self-tutored -- he dared believe that he was intended for an exalted career. But long before he became President, he was "Abe," a young boy who, in his thirst for knowledge, borrowed every book within fifty miles of his home. One such book is the prized possession of a neighboring farmer, and young Lincoln comes to return it to its owner. [X]

SFX:

BARNYARD BACKGROUND ... CHICKENS CLUCK, ET CETERA, IN BG

MRS. CRAW:

Here, chick, chick, chick, chick! Here, chick, chick, chick!

YOUNG ABE:

Morning, Mrs. Crawford!

MRS. CRAW:

Well, land sakes! If it ain't Abraham.

CRAWFORD:

(FADES IN) Good morning to you, Abraham.

YOUNG ABE:

Morning, Mr. Crawford. I rode over to see you about the book you loaned me.

CRAWFORD:

Well, well, now. Don't be sayin' you've finished the readin' of it! Why, it weren't more'n a fortnight ago that you borrowed it.

YOUNG ABE:

Well ... not quite, sir, but I--

CRAWFORD:

Well, there's no hurry -- no hurry at all. I won't have time to read it again till winter anyhow. The missus and me are mighty proud to have a book like that. It's the only one in the state, I figger.

YOUNG ABE:

Yeah, I know, sir. That's why it's kind of hard--

CRAWFORD:

Hard? Yes, yes, any kinda readin' comes hard... 'specially for us folks without schoolin'. But it's a comfort. That book of the Reverend Weems on the life of Washington and the Holy Bible is all the readin' matter we have.

YOUNG ABE:

(INCREASINGLY TEARFUL) Mr. Crawford ... I ruined your book, sir! It was that bad storm we had yesterday. The rain blew in through the cracks in the logs of our cabin and got the book soaking wet. I dried it out but -- it's ruined, sir!

CRAWFORD:

Hmmm. Well, that's too bad. I - I kinda set a big store on that book -- and books is kinda scarce in these parts.

YOUNG ABE:

I'm awfully sorry, Mr. Crawford. I haven't got any money to pay for it. Haven't you got some chore I could do, sir? Some plowin' or helpin' you with your winter's wood?

CRAWFORD:

Mmmm, nope. But I'll tell you what you can do to pay for that book. I don't want to be hard on ya. Now, suppose you give me three good days of corn fodder pullin'.

YOUNG ABE:

Yes, sir! When can I start?

CRAWFORD:

Well, suppose'n you come over bright'n early tomorrow mornin'.

YOUNG ABE:

Yes, sir, I'll come! I'll be here before sun-up!

MFX:

BRIDGE ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

ANNOUNCER:

Young Abraham Lincoln tried his hand at many things as he grew to manhood. He clerked in store, he soldiered in the Black Hawk War, he tried surveying, and, for a time, was postmaster of New Salem, Illinois. But his love of books and reading never diminished. In 1834, he and William Berry were partners in a general store in New Salem. [X] We find them outside their place of business, sitting on a bench.

BERRY:

Yeah, might as well set here in the sun as set inside the store and wait for customers that don't come. Can't you never stop readin', Abe?

LINCOLN:

Why stop reading? There's lots of it to do, and we aren't here long to do it -- as the mosquito said as he started out on the fat man.

BERRY:

But readin' don't help none, runnin' a store, Abe.

LINCOLN:

Nothing seems to help. We've got so deep in debt here, Berry, I - I think we'll have to change to something else to pay off.

BERRY:

You're always talkin' about payin' off our debt. No wonder I hear them callin' ya "Honest" Abe. What you likely to change to?

LINCOLN:

Get the idea sometimes I'd like to be a lawyer.

BERRY:

Lawyer! Say, it'll take a sight of readin' to be that. What's that book you have there?

LINCOLN:

It's a law book I got over at Springfield. Walked over to get it.

BERRY:

G'on! Say, that's forty mile, over and back!

LINCOLN:

Yeh. I read quite a part of it walkin' home. I don't think I got the right one. I need something that gets down to fundamentals.

SFX:

SLOW HORSE'S HOOF BEATS APPROACH

BERRY:

Well, hello! Here comes another mover. Seems as if the world was movin' west.

SFX:

SLOW HORSE'S HOOF BEATS SLOW TO A STOP AS--

MOVER:

(OFF) Whoa! Whoa, there! Whoa! Um, say, uh, stranger? Hey, you over there!

LINCOLN:

Yes?

MOVER:

(OFF) Want to buy somethin' off this load for your store?

LINCOLN:

(CHUCKLES) We've got a good deal more now than we can sell.

MOVER:

(OFF) Well, I ain't stickin' on price. I can't hold this load no longer. Got to get rid of some of it. How about that barrel back there -- that one tied on with a surcingle. Say, er, a dollar?

LINCOLN:

Nope. Reckon not.

MOVER:

(OFF) How about, eh, half a dollar?

LINCOLN:

Well, stranger, if you need a half a dollar, here -- catch it.

MOVER:

(OFF) Ah, thanks.

LINCOLN:

And keep your barrel.

WOMAN:

(OFF, TO MOVER) You mighta known you wouldn't make that gawk understand anything.

MOVER:

(OFF, TO WOMAN) Keep quiet. (ANNOYED, TO LINCOLN) Consarn it, can't you see I don't want that barrel more'n I do want the half dollar?

LINCOLN:

(CHUCKLES) All right. I'll make the trade. I'll lift off the barrel.

SFX:

BARREL LIFTED DOWN FROM WAGON

WOMAN:

(OFF) Say, he's strong! Why, that's the heaviest barrel of the [?], wasn't it? Must weigh two hundred!

LINCOLN:

(EXHALES WITH EFFORT)

SFX:

THUMP! BARREL PUT ON GROUND

LINCOLN:

There we are! I have it, though I - I don't know what I'm gonna do with it.

MOVER:

(OFF, LAUGHS) Thanks, stranger! I hope you won't regret your trade. (LAUGHS) Giddap, there! Giddap.

SFX:

SLOW HORSE'S HOOF BEATS DEPART

BERRY:

Well, well, Abe, what have you got?

LINCOLN:

Old iron, I reckon--

SFX:

BARREL TOP REMOVED

LINCOLN:

Hey, what's this? Four big books way down at the bottom. (READS) "Commentaries on the Laws of England," by William Blackstone. (TO BERRY) Say, this is just what I want! I reckon that settles it, Berry. For half a dollar, I've got my decision. These books are fundamental! Apparently, I - have to be a lawyer.

MFX:

BRIDGE ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

ANNOUNCER:

Young Lincoln read and studied law diligently and was finally able to start in practicing in Springfield, the capital of Illinois. But he seemed always anxious to use his talent for those in undeserved distress. A wandering theatrical troupe came to Springfield. With the leader, Joseph Jefferson II, and his handsome wife, was their ten-year-old son, Joseph Jefferson III, who much later was to immortalize himself as Rip Van Winkle. Mrs. Jefferson is speaking to her husband [X] as he and his company work on a carpentering job.

SFX:

HAMMERS POUND NAILS INTO WOOD, ET CETERA

MRS. JEFF:

Joe, it looks beautiful.

JEFFERSON:

Yes, for rough work on rough lumber, it makes a pretty good theater. What do you think of it, son?

LITTLE JOE:

I think it's grand, father. I'm glad you and mother won't have to play in a barn in this place.

MRS. JEFF:

But hasn't it cost a great deal, Joe?

JEFFERSON:

It has. Every cent we've saved on the tour.

MRS. JEFF:

Oh, dear.

BIZ:

MURMURING CROWD APPROACHES

JEFFERSON:

Oh, I see we're attracting more and more attention. Here comes another group of townspeople to look at the theater.

AN ACTOR:

That man ahead, Mr. Jefferson, has been around here several times.

JEFFERSON:

(GRANDLY) Good. We're glad to welcome our future patrons. (TO CONSTABLE) Good morning, sir!

CONSTABLE:

Are you the head man of these showmen?

JEFFERSON:

(PROUDLY) I am the manager and leader of a company of distinguished players, sir, who are bringing to this fair city the masterpieces of the immortal bard.

CONSTABLE:

Mebbe, and mebbe not.

JEFFERSON:

Tomorrow night, we shall delight you with Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.

CONSTABLE:

Mebbe, and mebbe not.

JEFFERSON:

I am at a loss, sir, to understand your doubts.

CONSTABLE:

Mister, this is a religious town, and we ain't a-goin' to hold with no play-actin'.

BIZ:

TOWNSPEOPLE MURMUR AGREEMENT ("I'll say we ain't!")

JEFFERSON:

I'm sure that by all law and order we have a right to present these great plays without interference or molestation.

CONSTABLE:

Mebbe, and mebbe not. The town's been a-watchin' you a-hammerin' up this new buildin' and we don't like it. It's a den of vice and sin that you're a-settin' up here. I'm an officer of the law, and unless you pay the [license fee] money now, we'll run you out.

MR. JEFFERSON:

Why, there is no license fee! We inquired when we came four days ago.

CONSTABLE:

Well, there wasn't then. But the Council of Springfield -- good righteous and God-fearin' men -- met yesterday and passed one. And a pretty
considerable one, too. I reckon there won't be any Princes of Denmark around here when you've heard it.

VOICE:

(CALLS TO CONSTABLE, FROM OFF) I can use that lumber, Tim, when they've left it!

BIZ:

TOWNSPEOPLE LAUGH

CONSTABLE:

Here on this paper, it says, "By the authority of the Council, no actor or association of actors shall present a stage-play within the bounds of Springfield without payment of five hundred dollars for each performance."

JEFFERSON:

Five hundred dollars! Why, this is an outrage. That's more money than we could possibly clear in a whole summer season!

CONSTABLE:

Yeah, is that so? Well, then, perhaps you'd better pack up and go back where you come from.

BIZ:

TOWNSPEOPLE MURMUR AGREEMENT

LINCOLN:

(APPROACHES, TO JEFFERSON) I beg your pardon, sir. Are you in trouble?

JEFFERSON:

Great trouble, sir. This officer is virtually ordering us out of town and confiscating our playhouse.

LINCOLN:

Oh. I've heard about this new ordinance. I have a copy somewhere. Let me see, where is it? Oh, yes. Inside my hat. Er, might I be of any help?

JEFFERSON:

Well, who are you?

LINCOLN:

My name is Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln -- a lawyer.

BIZ:

TOWNSPEOPLE MURMUR RECOGNITION ("Yup, that's Abe.")

LINCOLN:

Not much of one, perhaps, but ready to take a case like this.

MRS. JEFF:

Oh, sir, please. Oh, how can we thank you?

CONSTABLE:

You're interferin' with the law, Lincoln.

BIZ:

TOWNSPEOPLE MURMUR AGREEMENT

LINCOLN:

I reckon that's what lawyers are for -- sometimes.

JEFFERSON:

Mr. Lincoln, our troupe can't find words to thank you. We'll pay you any fee you say -- if you'll wait for it -- and if we can earn it.

LINCOLN:

Well, now's to the fee-- As to the fee-- Money is rather scarce with us just now, and if I win and you can manage it, I'd, uh, I'd appreciate a - ticket to your play.

MFX:

BRIDGE, THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

ANNOUNCER:

Next morning, Abraham Lincoln appeared before the Council of Springfield and his eloquent plea for the theatrical performers won the repeal of the unjust ordinance. Love of Justice was the keynote of Lincoln's character and many examples of this trait were found in his legal career. He would not defend a guilty person or press an unjust claim. But for those he believed unjustly oppressed or innocent of a crime he was always willing to give what aid he could. [X] One such case came to him while he was still in Springfield practicing with William Herndon.

HANNAH:

I don't figure you'll be rememberin' me, Abe. Er, Mr. Lincoln, I mean.

LINCOLN:

(SURPRISED) Why - why, Hannah! Hannah Armstrong!

HANNAH:

(PLEASED) Oh, you - you did remember! You did! I - I was afraid--

LINCOLN:

Remember? Why, it isn't likely I'll ever forget the days in New Salem. How's that husband of yours? Does he still think he could outwrassle me if it comes to a pinch?

HANNAH:

Oh, you are the same! You haven't changed a bit! You're - you're older, of course, and you look kinda peakęd like ya ain't been eatin' or sleepin' regular.

LINCOLN:

But tell me, Hannah, tell me about yourself. Oh, sit down, sit down. You look kind of tired.

HANNAH:

I am tired, Abe. And worried. That's why I've come all the way here to see you. I knew if anyone could help, it'd be you. They say you've come to be a right fine lawyer.

LINCOLN:

Now, look here, Hannah, don't you tell me Jack's gone and got himself tangled up with the law - at his age!

HANNAH:

No. It ain't Jack. It's Will, my boy. You remember Will.

LINCOLN:

Of course I remember. He used to play horse on my feet. Used to claim they were 'most as big as ponies. He must be almost a grown man now, Hannah.

HANNAH:

He is, Abe. And he's in trouble -- terrible trouble. (STARTS TO CRY) Oh, Abe!

LINCOLN:

Now, now, Hannah. Maybe it isn't as bad as you think. Most troubles aren't.

HANNAH:

But this is. He's been accused of -- murder.

LINCOLN:

Murder?

HANNAH:

Yes. They're - they're going to try him over to Beardstown in just a couple o' weeks. Everybody thinks he's going to be convicted. They say - he hasn't a chance. But he's innocent, Abe. I - I know he didn't do it. I know it! (MORE CRYING)

LINCOLN:

Now, now, Hannah. This is no time to give way to tears. You save those for the jury. Suppose you tell me just what happened.

HANNAH:

Well, it - it happened at a camp meetin' near home. Oh, it's horrible, Abe! Poor Will.

LINCOLN:

Just take your time, Hannah. Tell me everything you know.

HANNAH:

Well, it - it was last summer. A man named Metzgar was killed, and - and they've arrested Will 'cause he'd had some trouble with him, and - and the court has somebody that swears he saw Will hit Metzgar over the head. Oh, Abe, I - I've talked to Will and he's sworn to me that he didn't do it. Will wouldn't lie to me.

LINCOLN:

I don't think he would, Hannah.

HANNAH:

But the jury won't believe him, Abe! They won't, will they?

LINCOLN:

Oh, if it's just his word against that other fella's, they probably won't.

HANNAH:

Oh. Oh, what are we goin' to do?

LINCOLN:

Well -- to start with, you straighten up your bonnet, Hannah.

HANNAH:

Eh?

LINCOLN:

We're going to Beardstown and find some way of making that jury believe Will's story.

MFX:

BRIDGE, THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

ANNOUNCER:

Even up to the day of the trial, there seemed to be little chance that the son of Lincoln's old friends would ever go free. As the trial progressed, Lincoln seemed to do nothing but sit beside his client and stare out of a window. [X] As the prosecutor finishes with his star witness, Lincoln gets slowly to his feet.

LINCOLN:

Young man -- do you realize you're under oath?

WITNESS:

Yes, sir. I do.

LINCOLN:

And that to lie is to commit perjury?

WITNESS:

Yes, sir. But what I'm tellin' is the truth.

LINCOLN:

You claim that, on the night of the murder, you were standing thirty yards from the scene of the crime.

WITNESS:

Yes, sir.

LINCOLN:

Would you mind repeating just how you were able to be so certain that the perpetrator of this foul crime was the defendant, William Armstrong?

WITNESS:

Well, sir, as I said before, it was a full moon. It was almost as bright as day and I saw young Will Armstrong and Metzgar havin' an argument, and pushin' each other around and, all of a sudden, Will picked up a piece of iron and hit Metzgar over the head with it. Then he ran.

LINCOLN:

And it was only because of the brightness of the full moon, high in the sky, that you were able to see so well from a distance of twenty or thirty yards.

WITNESS:

Yes, sir. That's it.

LINCOLN:

If there'd been no moon, or a young moon, you wouldn't have been able to see what happened at all. Is that not true?

WITNESS:

Well, er, yes - yes, sir. That's true.

LINCOLN:

Just as I thought! You have perjured yourself before this court!

BIZ:

COURTROOM CROWD MURMURS, SURPRISED

SFX:

BANG OF GAVEL

BIZ:

COURTROOM CROWD QUIETS

LINCOLN:

Your honor, gentlemen of the jury -- I submit that this witness -- the witness upon whose testimony the prosecution hopes to convict my innocent client -- has lied!

BIZ:

COURTROOM CROWD MURMURS

PROSECUTOR:

I object! Mr. Lincoln must prove that statement!

SFX:

BANG OF GAVEL

JUDGE:

Order! Order in this court! Order!

BIZ:

COURTROOM CROWD QUIETS

JUDGE:

Upon what evidence and authority do you make this unusual charge, Mr. Lincoln?

LINCOLN:

Upon the evidence and the authority of this book I hold in my hands! The Almanac! In which it is clearly shown that on the night of the crime, at the time the witness says the crime was committed, it was only a half moon, and instead of riding high in the sky, it was setting!

BIZ:

COURTROOM CROWD MURMURS

MFX:

BRIDGE, THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

ANNOUNCER:

Lincoln's years of struggle and failure before his election to the presidency and the trying hours during his administration are recorded in the very heart of the nation to which he gave his life. At the height of his career, a nation mourned his tragic death. But perhaps more than any other, his passing brought sorrow to his devoted step-mother, Sara Bush Lincoln. One evening, shortly after the President's untimely death, William Herndon, Lincoln's one-time law partner, visits the home of that kindly woman who perhaps more than any one else guided and counseled young Abraham in his formative years. He is shown into a neat little sitting room. [X]

HERNDON:

My dear Mrs. Lincoln. I wish my visit might be on a happier occasion. But I felt I must come.

MRS. LINCOLN:

You were his friend. It was kind of you to come. Won't you sit down, Mr. Herndon? Abraham spoke of you on - on his last visit.

HERNDON:

Of me, Mrs. Lincoln? Surely in the troubled years that have passed and with the cares of the Presidency he must have had little time to think of those of us who knew him in happier days.

MRS. LINCOLN:

Being our President didn't change him, Mr. Herndon. Why, he even found time to come here to visit me.

HERNDON:

But that was only natural -- his mother.

MRS. LINCOLN:

You forget -- I was only his step-mother -- not his flesh and blood.

HERNDON:

Well, no woman could have been more of a true mother to him. Many times I've heard him say those very words. You were never far from his thoughts. Very close to his heart.

MRS. LINCOLN:

I love my own son, John -- but not a bit more than Abe. My mind -- what little I had -- seemed to be like his. Abraham was always a good son to me -- even when he grew to manhood, he didn't forget. I remember the last time he came -- it was snowing hard, and it was terribly cold. But it was my birthday -- he didn't want to disappoint me. He came. Sat just where you're sitting now. He looked so tired.

HERNDON:

The strain of being President - all but wrecked his health.

MRS. LINCOLN:

Yes. That was plain to see.

MFX:

SNEAK IN "BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC"

MRS. LINCOLN:

And he seemed to have strange feelings that he hadn't long to live. I didn't understand, but when he left me, he took my hands in his, and said, "This may be the last time we will see each other."

HERNDON:

I've set myself the task of writing the story of his life. I think folks will want to know in the years to come. It's the little I can do to acknowledge - a fine friendship.

MRS. LINCOLN:

Abe was a good boy. I can say what not one mother in a thousand can say. Abe never gave me a cross word.

MFX:

UP TO A CLIMAX ... THEN CONTINUE "HYMN" IN BG, WITH VOCAL CHORUS

ANNOUNCER:

And so passed from the marching ranks of the American Cavalcade to camp in the bivouac of the immortal death one Abraham Lincoln.

MFX:

"HYMN" TO A FINISH ("His truth is marching on!") ... THEN OUT

ANNOUNCER:

To many of us, Abraham Lincoln stands as the last great hero of pioneer America. After him -- and because of him -- the Cavalcade of America marched on to a new nation, a new day of increased opportunity for one and all. But, although, the frontiers of America have gradually disappeared, the pioneer spirit has not been lost. In every walk of life today, there are men whose vision partakes of the qualities of Lincoln and who are devoting their lives to ideals akin to his. Among them are the men of science, pioneering in their laboratories, seeking the truth, doing their part to make the nation a better place in which to live. The research chemists and laboratories, like those of DuPont's, are fulfilling a service to humanity which is well-expressed in the DuPont chemists' creed -- Better Things for Better Living Through Chemistry.

MFX:

CAVALCADE THEME ... THEN IN BG

ANNOUNCER:

This evening's program will undoubtedly have a special interest for many listeners - so we are happy to announce that the manuscript containing these little-known stories of Lincoln, as presented on the air, will be sent free of charge to anyone who writes DuPont, Wilmington, Delaware. We should greatly appreciate having school teachers give the name of their school and the class they teach. Ask for the radio script entitled "Abraham Lincoln: A True American." It will be sent free to you. Remember the address -- DuPont, D-U-P-O-N-T, Wilmington, Delaware.

MFX:

CAVALCADE THEME UP ... THEN IN BG

SFX:

APPLAUSE

ANNOUNCER:

Next week at this same time, DuPont will again present the Cavalcade of America. Our next broadcast will dramatize the conquest of rivers by American bridge builders. This is the Columbia Broadcasting System.

MFX:

CAVALCADE THEME UP ... THEN IN BG

SFX:

APPLAUSE

MFX:

CAVALCADE THEME FADES OUT

LOCAL ANNCR:

WABC, New York.