GREENVILLE — Darke County residents had two opportunities to hear the 16th president of the United States speak Friday as Abraham Lincoln impersonator John Cooper appeared at the Greenville Public Library and the Brethren Retirement Community.
Cooper’s first appearance took place at noon on the front lawn of the library. He then appeared at 2 p.m. in the Brethren Home’s Brick Room.
According to a press release issued by the library, “Cooper is a self-avowed history nut and considers Lincoln his favorite, and the United States’ greatest, president. He has portrayed President Lincoln for more than 25 years with the aid of his tall stature, beard and coat, and stovepipe hat.”
Cooper has portrayed Lincoln in venues throughout the U.S. Locally, he has appeared at the Darke County Fair and at Trinity Wesleyan Church. He previously appeared at the library twice in February 2017.
“It’s an honor to address you all in a historic place like Greenville,” Cooper told the assembled audience at the Brethren Home Friday afternoon.
Cooper went on to explain Ohio’s importance to Lincoln’s prosecution of the American Civil War, saying the state contributed the third-largest number of troops to the Union Army, about 300,000 in all.
Lincoln was born in Kentucky in 1809 and began his career as an attorney in Springfield, Illinois in 1834, after leaving his father’s farm and working for a while as a shopkeeper.
“My father taught me to work hard but never taught me to love hard work,” Cooper (as Lincoln) told the crowd. “Perhaps that’s why I became a lawyer.”
Lincoln allegedly made three promises to his mother on her deathbed: to be kind to his father, to follow the Ten Commandments and to abstain from alcohol and tobacco. He also gained an avid love of reading from his stepmother.
Lincoln lost his first race for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1843 but was elected three years later. He joined the Republican Party, then only 2 years old, in 1856, and successfully campaigned for the presidency in 1860 while voicing strong opposition to slavery.
“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves,” Lincoln once said, “and under the rule of a just God cannot long retain it.”
Cooper also shared humorous anecdotes from Lincoln’s life with the Brethren Home audience, such as the time a young Lincoln responded to his stepmother’s admonition to avoid tracking mud across a newly swept floor by holding his younger brother upside-down, causing him to track mud across their cabin’s ceiling instead, or the time an adult Lincoln walked several blocks without realizing his young son, Tad, had climbed out of the wagon he was pulling.
“I thought it felt a tad light,” Lincoln is reported to have said.
Cooper will appear as Lincoln at the Clark County Fair July 22 and 25, the Seneca County Fair July 23 and the Ohio State Fair July 29. Those seeking more information can contact Cooper through his website at www.fourscore7yearsago.com.