Meet Randy Duncan, the man with quite possibly the coolest job around. Duncan is a professional re-enactor, portraying one of America’s most famous and important Presidents, Abraham Lincoln. Aside from the famous hat and distinguishable beard, the biggest perks of portraying Lincoln aren’t always seen, but rather, are felt. Having the honor to live certain days as the 16th President of the United States for 16 years, Duncan shares the inside scoop on a day in the life of Honest Abe.
“The best part of portraying Lincoln is interacting with children or anyone is who is hungry to learn some history,” Duncan tells us. “A large and enjoyable part of this work is being a good listener,” he added, explaining how most folks would be surprised by how much time he spends listening to people share their heartfelt connections with Lincoln. From book reports to school plays or family members who fought in the Civil War, almost everyone he meets has a connection to Lincoln. Duncan also emphasizes how he wished “everyone could have the chance to experience” what he does because of the benefits: the fun and responsibility of helping others learn more about the great President Lincoln.
Want to connect with Lincoln’s Illinois roots? Then walk in the sixteenth President’s shoes, just as Duncan does, on the Lincoln Campaign Trail.
First, start in the Windy City of Chicago and find yourself at the Tremont Hotel, modeled after the Tremont House, the headquarters of the Illinois Republican Party during the 1800’s. President Lincoln was not only a regular, but he also launched his first senatorial campaign from the hotel’s balcony.
Next, head to Charleston, where you can find the site of the historic Lincoln Log Cabin. Here, you’ll experience what it was like to work and live in the 1840’s home and farm of Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln, father and stepmother of Abe.
Of course, no Lincoln experience is complete without visiting the one and only Springfield, Illinois! Make sure you stop by the world-famous Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. This award winning library and museum features hi-tech and interactive exhibits, multimedia programs and a reproduction of the White House as it looked in 1861. You don’t want to miss the holographic characters and special effects, or live actors as they portray the 1860 Presidential Election as though it were happening today.
Round out your Lincoln experience in the city of Alton where you can visit Lincoln-Douglas Square. Here, you can see statues of Lincoln and Stephan Douglas during their final Presidential debate, while experiencing the charm of this historic river town.
–The Illinois Office of Tourism