Generic Radio Workshop Script Library (BACK)

Series: Royal Gelatin Hour
Show: Abe Lincoln in Illinois
Date: Oct 20 1938

CAST:
HOST, Rudy Vallee
JUDGE BOWLING GREEN, elderly
NINIAN EDWARDS, smooth
JOSHUA SPEED, enthusiastic
ANN RUTLEDGE
ABE LINCOLN

HOST:

Presenting Raymond Massey as Abraham Lincoln in Robert E. Sherwood's great new play "Abe Lincoln in Illinois." We use the words "great new play" after sober consideration. It is entirely possible that this is the first American play of our time -- a play of great force, beauty and meaning; an utterly human Lincoln, played with dignity and superb understanding by Mr. Massey.

A brief scene can give you little appreciation of the drama's wide scope. It can, however, bring you something of the atmosphere and feeling of the Lincoln written by Mr. Sherwood and brought to vigorous life by Mr. Massey.

Included in our cast tonight are Adele Longmire as Ann Rutledge, Arthur Griffin, Calvin Thomas and Lewis Martin. Raymond Massey in "Abe Lincoln in Illinois."

MUSIC:

FOR AN INTRODUCTION ... THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]

HOST:

Time -- a Fourth of July morning in the 1830s. Scene -- the Rutledge Tavern in the village of New Salem, Illinois. Young Abe Lincoln, recently appointed postmaster of New Salem, is seated in a corner reading a newspaper. Three men enter -- Judge Bowling Green and Josh Speed, friends of Lincoln, with Ninian Edwards, a politician from Springfield. [X] Judge Green speaks.

BOWLING:

This is the Rutledge Tavern, Mr. Edwards. It's not a gilded palace of refreshment, but the best we have to offer in New Salem.

NINIAN:

Make no apologies, Judge Green. Your hospitality is above appearances.

BOWLING:

Anyway, the whiskey is wet. (LAUGHS) Ah, here's the fair proprietress. Good morning, Ann.

ANN:

Hello, Judge Green. Good morning, gentlemen.

BOWLING:

Mr. Edwards, Josh -- have a seat.

JOSH:

Ann, we'll be grateful for a bottle of your father's best whiskey.

ANN:

Yes, Mr. Speed.

JOSH:

Well, Mr. Edwards -- what's your impression of our great and enterprising metropolis?

NINIAN:

Distinctly favorable, Mr. Speed. I could not fail to be impressed by the beauty of your location, here on this hilltop, in the midst of the prairie land. And when I heard the expressions of lofty patriotism from the throats of your leading citizens, I realized that you are worthy of the blessings which the Maker has bestowed.

BOWLING:

And you were secretly wishing for a good drink. (LAUGHS) Never mind, Mr. Edwards, we're aware that you've been reared in a school of diplomacy and we salute you as a graceful prevaricator.

NINIAN:

I see that I am among friends. (CHUCKLES)

ANN:

Here you are, gentlemen.

SOUND:

DRINKS PLACED ON TABLE

BOWLING:

Thank you, Ann.

ANN:

(MOVING OFF) I'll be in the next room if you want more.

BOWLING:

(DRINKS, EXHALES) Mighty pretty girl.

JOSH:

Comes of good stock, too.

NINIAN:

With the scarcity of females in these parts, it's a wonder someone hasn't snapped her up.

BOWLING:

Someone has. But we're not entirely sure whether he intends to claim the prize. The poor girl promised herself to a man named McNiel, but it turned out his real name's McNamar. Made some money out here, then hooked it back east to his homefolk, saying he'd return soon. She's still waiting for him. But your time is short, Mr. Edwards, so if you'll tell us just what it is you want in New Salem, we'll do our utmost to--

NINIAN:

I'm sure you gentlemen know what I want. This year Sangamon County will send nine delegates to the assembly in Vandalia. I have the honor to have been nominated by the Whig party in Springfield and I'm looking for good men in all the smaller communities to stand with me. We have a great battle cry, "End the reign of Andrew Jackson."

JOSH:

Good! Mr. Edwards, I believe that we can be of assistance to you and at once! (CALLS) Oh, Abe?

ABE:

Calling me, Josh?

JOSH:

Put the paper down, Abe. We want to talk to you.

ABE:

Me? What about?

JOSH:

Abe, this is Governor Edwards' son -- Ninian Edwards, from Springfield. I brought Mr. Edwards here for the sole purpose of meeting you. And with his permission, I shall tell you why.

NINIAN:

Go right ahead, Josh. I hadn't realized Mr. Lincoln was the one you--

JOSH:

Abe, how would you like to run for the State Assembly?

ABE:

When?

JOSH:

Now -- for the election in the fall.

NINIAN:

It's a capital suggestion. Mr. Lincoln, you're precisely the type of man we want. The whole Whig organization will support your candidacy.

JOSH:

What do you think of it, Bowling?

BOWLING:

You can count me in as a contributor to the campaign fund. I think it's as fine a notion as I ever heard.

ABE:

Ain't anybody going to ask what I think?

JOSH:

(LAUGHS) All right, Abe -- I'll ask you.

ABE:

It's a comical notion, all right. I don't know as if I can give an answer to it, offhand, but my first, hasty impression is I don't think much of it.

BOWLING:

Don't overlook the fact that, if elected, your salary will be three whole dollars a day.

ABE:

That's fine money. No doubt of that. And I see what you're getting at, Bowling. I owe you a considerable sum of money; and if I stayed in the legislature for, say, twenty years, I'd be able to pay off.

BOWLING:

(AMUSED) Oh, I'm not thinking about the debts, Abe.

ABE:

I know you ain't, Bowling. But I got to. And so should you, Mr. Edwards. The Whig Party's the party of sound money and "God save the National Bank," ain't it?

NINIAN:

Why, yes, among other things.

ABE:

Well, then how would it look if you put forward a candidate who has demonstrated no earning power, but who has run up the impressive total of fifteen hundred dollars of debt?

BOWLING:

I can tell you something about those debts, Mr. Edwards. Abe started a grocery store in partnership with an unfortunate young man named Berry. Their stock included whiskey, and Berry started tapping the keg until he had consumed all the liquid assets, so the store went bankrupt. Berry was non compos mentis through drink and Abe voluntarily assumed all the obligations -- fifteen hundred dollars worth. That may help to explain to you, Mr. Edwards, why we think pretty highly of him around here.

NINIAN:

It's a sentiment with which I concur most heartily.

ABE:

I thank you one and all for your kind tributes, but don't overdo 'em, or I'll begin to think that three dollars a day ain't enough!

BIZ:

THE MEN LAUGH

JOSH:

What's the one thing that you want most, Abe? You want to learn. This will give you your chance to get at a good library, to associate with the finest lawyers in the State.

ABE:

I got a copy of Blackstone, already. Found it in an old junk barrel. And how can I tell that the finest lawyers would want to associate with me? Besides how do you know that my political views would agree with yours? How do you know I wouldn't say the wrong thing?

NINIAN:

What are your political leanings, Mr. Lincoln?

ABE:

They're all toward staying out. What kind of leanings do you want?

NINIAN:

We need good conservative men to counteract all the radical firebrands that have swept over this country in the wake of Andrew Jackson. We've got to get this country back to first principles!

ABE:

Well, I'm conservative, all right. If I ever got in the legislature you'd never catch me startin' any movements for progress or reform. I'm pretty certain I wouldn't even have the nerve to open my mouth.

JOSH:

(LAUGHS) I told you, Ninian -- he's just the type of candidate you're looking for.

NINIAN:

As postmaster, Mr. Lincoln, you're in an excellent position to establish contacts. The fact is, we want to spike the rumor that ours is the party of the more privileged classes. That's why we seek men of the plain people for candidates.

ABE:

Would you supply me with a suit of store clothes? A candidate mustn't look too plain.

NINIAN:

I think even that could be arranged, eh, Judge?

BOWLING:

I think so.

NINIAN:

So think it over, Mr. Lincoln, and realize that this is opportunity unlimited in scope. And now, gentlemen, if you will excuse me, I must put in an appearance at the torch-light procession in Springfield this evening, so I shall be moving on. Goodbye, Mr. Lincoln. This meeting has been a happy one for me.

ABE:

Goodbye, Mr. Edwards. Good luck in the campaign.

NINIAN:

(MOVING OFF) And the same to you.

BOWLING:

I'll see you later, Abe. (MOVING OFF) Tell Ann I'll be back to pay for the liquor.

ABE:

I'll tell her, Bowling.

SOUND:

TAVERN DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES AS NINIAN AND BOWLING EXIT

ABE:

(UNHAPPY) I'm surprised at you, Josh. I thought you were my friend.

JOSH:

I know, Abe. But Ninian Edwards asked me, is there anybody in that Godforsaken town of New Salem that stands a chance of getting votes. The only one I could think of was you. (CHUCKLES) I can see that you're embarrassed by this and you're annoyed. But, whether you like it or not, you've got to grow; and here's your chance to get a little scrap of importance.

ABE:

(DISMISSIVE) Am I the kind that wants importance? I ain't runnin' for anything.

JOSH:

You'll deny it, Abe, but you've got a funny kind of vanity which is the same as saying that you've got some pride and it's badly in need of nourishment. So, if you'll agree to do this I don't think you'll be sorry for it or feel that I've betrayed you. Well, I've got to be getting back to Springfield, Abe, but I'll be down again in a week or so.

ABE:

I'll be here, Josh.

SOUND:

TAVERN DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES

ANN:

(APPROACHES) Gentlemen? (SEES THEY'VE GONE) Oh. (TO ABE) Have they all gone out?

ABE:

Yes, Ann. Bowling Green said to tell you he'd be back later to pay you what he owes.

ANN:

That's all right.

ABE:

Excuse me, Ann--

ANN:

Well -- what is it, Abe?

ABE:

I just thought you might like to talk to me.

ANN:

What about?

ABE:

That letter you got from New York State.

ANN:

What do you know about that letter?

ABE:

I'm the postmaster. I know more than I ought to about people's private affairs. Couldn't help seeing that that was the handwriting of Mr. McNiel. And I couldn't help seeing, from the look on your face, that the bad news you was afraid of has come.

ANN:

Whatever the letter said, Abe, it's no concern of yours.

ABE:

I know that, Ann. But it appears to me that you've been crying and it makes me sad to think that something could have hurt you. The thing is, I think quite a lot of you -- always have, ever since I first come here, and met you. I wouldn't mention it, only when you're distressed about something it's a comfort sometimes to find a pair of ears to pour your troubles into, and the Lord knows mine are big enough to hold a lot.

ANN:

You're a Christian gentleman, Abe Lincoln.

ABE:

No, I ain't. I'm a plain, common sucker with a shirt-tail so short I can't sit on it.

ANN:

(LAUGHS) Well, sit down, anyway, Abe. Here, by me. You can always say something to make a person laugh, can't you?

ABE:

Well, I don't even have to say anything. A person just has to look at me.

ANN:

You're right about that letter, Abe. It's the first I've heard from him in months and now he says he's delayed by family troubles and doesn't know when he'll be able to get to New Salem again. By which he probably means never.

ABE:

I wouldn't say that, Ann.

ANN:

I would. I reckon you think I'm a silly fool for ever having promised myself to Mr. McNiel.

ABE:

I think no such thing. I liked him myself, and I still do, and whatever reasons he had for changing his name I'm sure were honorable. He's a smart man, and a handsome one, and I wouldn't blame any girl for - loving him.

ANN:

I guess I don't love him, Abe. I guess I couldn't love anybody that was as -- as faithless as that.

ABE:

Well, then, there's nothing to fret about.

ANN:

I don't believe you know much about females, Abe.

ABE:

Probably I don't, although I certainly spend enough time thinking about 'em.

ANN:

You're a big man, and you can lick anybody, and you can't understand the feelings of someone who is weak. But I'm a female, and - and I can't help thinking what they'll be saying about me -- all the old gossips, all over town. They'll make it out that he deserted me. I'm a rejected woman. They'll give me their sympathy to my face, but they'll snigger at me behind my back.

ABE:

Yes, that's just about what they would do. But would you let them disturb you?

ANN:

I told you -- it's just weakness -- it's just vanity. It's something you couldn't understand, Abe.

ABE: Maybe I can understand it, Ann. I've got a kind of vanity myself. Josh Speed said so, and he's right. It's - it's nothing but vanity that's kept me from declaring my inclinations toward you. You see, I don't like to be sniggered at, either. I know what I am and I know what I look like and I know that I got nothing to offer any girl that I'd be in love with.

ANN:

Are you saying you're in love with me, Abe?

ABE:

Yes -- I am saying that. I've been loving you a long time with all my heart. You see, Ann you're a particularly fine girl. You've got sense, and you've got bravery -- those are two things that I admire particularly. And you're powerful good to look at, too. So it's only natural I should have a great regard for you. But I don't mean to worry you about it, Ann. I only mentioned it because if you would do me the honor of keeping company with me for a while, it might shut the old gossips' mouths. They'd figure you'd chucked McNiel for someone else. Even me.

ANN:

I thought I knew you pretty well, Abe. But I didn't.

ABE:

(WORRIED) Why do you say that, Ann? Do you consider I was too forward, in speaking out as I did?

ANN:

No, Abe. I've always thought a lot about you -- the way I thought you were. But the idea of love between you and me -- I can't say how I feel about that, because now you're like some other person that I'm meeting for the first time.

ABE:

I'm not expecting you to feel anything for me. I'd never dream of expecting such a thing.

ANN:

I know that, Abe. You'd be willing to give everything you have and never expect anything in return. Maybe you're different in that way than any man I ever heard of. But I can tell you this, Abe, now and truthfully -- if I ever do love you, I'll be happy about it -- and lucky to be loving a good, decent man. (SLOWLY) If you just give me time, Abe -- to think about it.

ABE:

You mean if you took time you might get in your heart something like the feeling I have for you?

ANN:

I don't know, Abe. But I do know that you're a man who could fill anyone's heart. Yes, fill it and warm it and make it glad to be living.

ABE:

Ann, I've always tried hard to believe what the orators tell us -- that this is a land of equal opportunity for all. But I've never been able to credit it, any more than I could agree that God made all men in his own image. But if I could win you, Ann, I'd be willing to disbelieve everything I've ever seen with my own eyes, and have faith in everything wonderful that I've ever read in the poetry books.

ANN:

Where are you going, Abe?

ABE:

(BEAT, SLIGHTLY OFF) I'm going to find Bowling Green and tell him a good joke.

ANN:

A joke? What about?

ABE:

I'm gonna tell him that I'm a candidate for the assembly of the State of Illinois.

MUSIC:

FOR A CURTAIN

SOUND:

APPLAUSE

HOST:

Mr. Massey, our heartiest congratulations on a beautiful performance -- your performance in the entire play, Mr. Massey, as well as here tonight.

MASSEY:

Thank you, Mr. Vallee.

HOST:

And I hope that every listener who possibly can do so will see Mr. Sherwood's play, not only because it is a fine drama about Abraham Lincoln, but because of its tremendously significant message for all of us in these troubled times. In this connection, ladies and gentlemen, we have asked Mr. Massey to do for us the remarkable speech that closes the drama.

The play has followed Lincoln through his years of preparation, his years of first achievement. The concluding scene finds him about to leave Springfield for his First Inaugural in Washington. Speaking from the train platform, Lincoln addresses himself to his fellow townsmen, and indirectly to you -- and to me. And to every citizen who hopes that our American institutions may live on in the world. Mr. Massey, as an older Lincoln -- the Lincoln of Eighteen Sixty-One.

ABE:

My dear friends -- I have to say goodbye to you. I am going now to Washington, with my new whiskers of which I hope you approve.

No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feelings of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of you people, I owe everything. I have lived here a quarter of a century, and passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when or whether ever I may return. I am called upon to assume the Presidency at a time when eleven of our sovereign states have announced their intention to secede from the Union, and threats of war increase in fierceness from day to day.

It is a grave duty which I now face. In preparing for it, I have tried to enquire what great principle or idea it is which has kept this Union so long together. And I believe that it was not the mere matter of separation of the colonies from the motherland, but that sentiment in the Declaration of Independence which gave liberty to the people of this country and hope to all the world. This sentiment was the fulfillment of an ancient dream, which men have held through all time, a dream that one day they might shake off their chains and find freedom in the brotherhood of life.

We gained democracy, and there is now doubt whether it is fit to survive. Perhaps we have come to the dreadful day of awakening, and the dream is ended. If so, I am afraid it must be ended forever. I cannot believe that ever again will men have the opportunity we have had. Perhaps we should admit that, and concede that our ideals of liberty and equality are decadent and doomed.

I have heard of an eastern monarch who once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence which would be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him with the words, "And this too shall pass away." That is a comforting thought in times of affliction -- "And this too shall pass away."

MUSIC:

"MY COUNTRY, 'TIS OF THEE," IN BG ... BEHIND--

ABE:

(EARNESTLY) And yet let us believe that it is not true! Let us live to prove that we can cultivate the natural world that is about us, and the intellectual and moral world that is within us, so that we may secure an individual, social and political prosperity, whose course shall be forward, and which, while this earth endures, shall not pass away.

I commend you to the care of the Almighty, as I hope that in your prayers you will remember me.

Goodbye, my friends and neighbors.

MUSIC:

UP, FOR A CURTAIN

SOUND:

APPLAUSE ...