Dickinson College / Gilder Lehrman Institute

The cabin floor

When Professor Pinsker (I mean Matt) spoke of how Abraham Lincoln used quotes from John Brown’s trial in his second inaugural address it sent shivers down my spine. The two of them were closer idyllically than either wanted to admit.

It was September 20,2009 I was standing on a floor in the Adair cabin. My feet were still upon the floor where 150 years ago escaped slaves had seeked refuge for a night. It was also a place John Brown frequented to be safe. It was the house of  his cousins the Adairs. I was part of the Freedom Festival for the  John Brown Museum in Osawatomie ,Kansas . I stood their in my Lincoln attire feeling proud of who I was about to portray on stage. Yet an uneasy feeling came over me as if someone wanted me to never enter the cabin . I felt some eyes pearcing into me. I slowly turned and saw a women in civil war period dress in Florella Adair’s rocking chair . Her eyes were watery and seemed full of hate. I gracefully and as peacefully as possible extended my hand  “I’m Abraham Lincoln” “I’m Florella Adair  and you have unjustly and cruely ruined the good deeds of John Brown”. We stayed in character for twenty minutes and through many tears and a patient ear we agreed both men wanted the same thing.Somehow I had won  her over . She hugged me and I hugged her . In my speech I stayed true to Lincoln’s words but I did not condem John Brown’s character. The woman I talked to, her real  name was Mary Buster, Florella Adair’s great-great-grandaughter.


What’s good for the goose …


Why (More) Black People Should Study The Civil War

1 Comment

  1. salbertson

    Wow! What an incredible experience that must have been.

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