Henderson play may be staged again
“The Forgotten Emancipator” tells the story of John B. Henderson and his role in the 13th Amendment.
Another staging of a play about Louisiana’s John Brooks Henderson may be in the works.
Saturday’s performance of “The Forgotten Emancipator” was so successful that another showing is being considered.
“We had so many people ask ‘When are you going to do this again?” said playwright Brent Engel, who served as the narrator for the production. “The cast and I really appreciate the kudos we received and I think we’re anxious to give it another go. There are many Henderson-related anniversaries coming up in the next year or two and beyond, and all lend themselves to another telling of his amazing story.”
The 90- minute play focuses upon Henderson’s co-authorship of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution outlawing slavery, his work with Native Americans, the vote to acquit President Andrew Johnson of impeachment charges, the fight for women’s voting rights in the Virginia Minor case and prosecution of tax cheats during the Whiskey Ring scandal.
Joining Engel in the cast were Bart Niender as Henderson; Brian King as President Abraham Lincoln; Carl Schmidt as Henderson’s friend, David Patterson Dyer; Aaron Windmiller as a Young David Patterson Dyer; Leo Pratte as the Town Crier; Greg Lovshe as General and President Ulysses S. Grant; Steve Yager as rebel Col. Jefferson Jones; and Adam Engel as Tad Lincoln. Judy Schmidt provided Civil War era music.
Sponsors for the production included Betty Allen, Martha Sue Smith, Bank of Louisiana, The Mercantile Bank of Louisiana, the Louisiana Lions Club, Dr. Sue and Charles Deines and the Louisiana Area Historical Museum.
People who attended received a free 60 -page booklet about Henderson and his accomplishments. The program also featured a proclamation recently read into the Congressional Record by U.S. Rep. Sam Graves.
Engel said one important Henderson milestone that happens in 2014 will be on April 8, which will mark the 150th anniversary of the Senate approving the final draft of the 13th Amendment.
From there, it was sent to the House for months of debate. Last year’s Steven Spielberg movie “Lincoln” chronicled the battle for passage.
A few other dates of importance include Jan. 27, 1862 when Henderson was appointed to the U.S. Senate; March 27, 1862, when Henderson proposed that the federal government offer aid to states that gradually abolished slavery; Oct. 27, 1861, the day on which Henderson and rebel Col. Jefferson Jones signed a treaty creating the so-called Kingdom of Callaway County; May 16, 1868, the day that Henderson joined a handful of other Republicans in voting to acquit Democrat President Andrew Johnson of impeachment charges; and March 29, 1875, the day on which the Supreme Court rejected an argument by Henderson and others that women should be allowed to vote.
“We hope to pick a Saturday in the spring in which we can again stage the play,” Engel said. “We’re looking at doing it in Louisiana, Clarksville and maybe even Hannibal or Quincy at some point.”
Engel reminded those in attendance Saturday night that voting continues through Oct. 31 for the Hall of Famous Missourians. Henderson is one of the 10 finalists.
“We urge everyone to vote, but we also want people to call or email House Speaker Tim Jones because he will pick one of the three finalists,” Engel said.
Jones can be reached by email at Tim.Jones@house.mo.gov or by calling 573-751-0562. His capitol address is 201 West Capitol Ave., Room 308, Jefferson City, Mo., 65101.