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Group Offers July 4 Civil War Insights For Central Ohio

As Central Ohio pauses this weekend to celebrate the Fourth of July, Ohio-Chautauqua offers live portrayals of five civil war-era historical figures. The performances are part of the commemoration of the start of the Civil War 150 years ago. President Abraham Lincoln, played by California history professor, Richard Johnson, is among the characters who will step onto a Westerville stage this weekend. "I'm sure that there are things that I forget. There are things that disappear from memory. But, for the most part I just feel delighted to have the opportunity to imagine how Abraham Lincoln lived and what he saw and what he did," Johnson said. Johnson said he's surprised by some of the audience reaction to his Lincoln character. "In fact, in my experience, I have, I think, seven different Chatauqua characters," he said. "Lincoln is the only one where people, they feel so close to the president. They feel like they can just come up and be part of that life. Its been quite an amazing experience for me." Johnson said this year's Ohio Chautauqua tour also includes portrayals of confederate socialite and abolitionist Mary Boykin Chestnut and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman. The five city tour has pitched its tent in Westerville for nightly performances through the Fourth. It will also perform in Lima and Coshocton later this month.