Drinkin' With Lincoln Episode 2: Freeport Lincoln Looms Large

Mar 8, 2019

In this episode, we visit with Lincoln presenter George Buss in his hometown of Freeport, Illinois. George has been portraying Lincoln for more than 30 years and proudly serves as the official Lincoln of Gettysburg. George loves Freeport because it's a town steeped in Lincoln history. It was here, on August 27th, 1858, that Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas held the second of their seven debates. This debate is infamous for Douglas's introduction of the Freeport Doctrine, which helped him defeat Lincoln in that race, but propelled Lincoln to the presidency just two years later. We also talk to Nicole Bauer, president of Freeport's Lincoln-Douglas Society, who discusses the debate's 150th anniversary celebration in 2008 and its impact on Freeport.

Then it's off to Lena Brewing Company, where George and I sip some delicious beer and discuss what led him to become Lincoln. We go over his travels, the research involved, and what he loves most about portraying the 16th president.

As a bonus, we also talked with members of the Lena Brewing team: President Ross Vehmeier, Brewery Operations Manager Andy Lamm, and Tap Room Manager Jaime Heddinger. You can find those interviews, along with this episode's show notes, at WNIJ.org/topic/drinkin-lincoln.

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Bonus Clips

Interview with Andy Lamm, Brewery Operations Manager at Lena Brewing Company.

Interview with Jaime Heddinger, Tap Room Manager at Lena Brewing Company.

Interview with Ross Vehmeier, President of Lena Brewing Company.

Chatting with Lincoln presenter George Buss before the interview at Lena Brewing Company.

Show Notes

Lincoln Presenter:

George Buss


Mana Kintorso (performed live on Sessions from Studio A)

Behind the Beard Location:

Lena Brewing Company

Other Interviewees:

Nicole Bauer, president of Freeport’s Lincoln-Douglas Society

Jackie Hogan

Author of Lincoln Inc.: Selling the 16th President in Contemporary America (2011)

Author of Roots Quest: Inside America's Genealogy Boom (2019)

Ross Vehmeier, President, Lena Brewing Company

Andy Lamm, Brewery Operations Manager, Lena Brewing Company

Jaime Heddinger, Tap Room Manager, Lena Brewing Company

Places Visited or Discussed:

Freeport, Illinois

Lincoln-Douglas Debate Square (Freeport)

Taylor Park (Freeport)

The Silver Creek and Stephenson Railroad Museum (Freeport)

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield)

The Mariners’ Museum (Newport News, Virginia)


Lincoln-Douglas Monument Stone (Freeport Debate Square)

Lincoln-Douglas Statue (Freeport Debate Square)

Lily Tolpo (sculptor of Lincoln-Douglas Statue in Freeport Debate Square)

“Lincoln the Debater” Statue (Taylor Park in Freeport)

Leonard Crunelle (sculptor of “Lincoln the Debater”)

Related to George Buss:

Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania

Commemoration of the Battle of Hampton Roads

The Lincoln Forum

C-SPAN Freeport Lincoln-Douglas Debate Re-Enactment (George Buss as Lincoln)

C-SPAN Jonesboro Lincoln-Douglas Debate Re-Enactment (George Buss as Lincoln)

C-SPAN George Buss’s profile and other videos

Other History Presenters:

Richard Sokup (Buss’s 1st Douglas Partner)

Tim Connors (Buss’s 2nd Douglas Partner)

Jim Getty (late Lincoln Presenter of the Gettysburg Address)

Remembering Jim Getty

Lincoln-Douglas Debates:

2nd Lincoln-Douglas Debate (Freeport)

1st Lincoln-Douglas Debate (Ottawa)

Lincoln-Douglas Debates (All 7)

Freeport Doctrine

All 7 of C-SPAN Lincoln-Douglas Debate Re-Enactments

Historical Figures:

Stephen A. Douglas

John C. Breckinridge

Theodore Roosevelt

William Thomas Rawleigh

"Fighting" Bob La Follette

George Norris

George B. McClellan

Leonard Swett

Norman Judd

David Davis

Lincoln Sources Mentioned:

The Frank and Virginia Williams Collection of Lincolniana

The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant (Mississippi State University)

Lincoln, by David Donald

To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign, by Stephen Sears

Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area:

Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area

Alliance of National Heritage Areas

US Congressman Adam Kinzinger (16th Congressional District of IL)

Press release for heritage area expansion

US Senator Tammy Duckworth (IL)

Press release for heritage area expansion

US Senator Dick Durbin (IL)


The Gettysburg Address

Dred Scott Decision

Early Years of the Republican Party

1860 Democratic Party Split (Conventions)

Battle of Hampton Roads (Ironclads)

Peninsula Campaign

17th Amendment


Bertram Hayes-Davis (Descendant of Jefferson Davis)

American Duchess (Riverboat)

US Senator Paul Simon (IL)

W. T. Rawleigh (Company)