The Great Hannibal Hamlin: An Alternative History of the Drug War
By James Bruce Smith
Post-Reading Discussion Moderated by Steven Wilson
The play begins February 23, 1861, the day Abraham Lincoln arrived in Washington to be inaugurated 10 days later. The inciting event occurs two minutes into the play when a telegram arrives announcing that Lincoln was killed in a train wreck. There are suspicions of foul play. Hannibal Hamlin, the elected Vice-President, becomes President at the time of the worst crisis in American history. Hamlin has an epiphany that civil war must be avoided at all costs, which he accomplishes by recognizing Confederate independence and selling them Fort Sumter and other federal property in the South. He calms northern opposition with a combination of payoffs and redirected patriotism. In 1864 Hamlin has a second epiphany that the United States could achieve grandeur by following Britain's example in promoting the drug trade. The land grant colleges, created as part of the Republican program of economic development, develop new varieties of opium that flourish in the Confederacy. The United States got a monopoly to distribute Confederate opium and branches out into cocaine and marijuana, leading to immense prosperity. Hamlin serves 3 terms as President and lives out the rest of his life at home in Maine, a respected patriarch of his country.
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The First Draft Series is an exclusive series of Tuesday-night play readings for and by First Draft Member playwrights. These are private, salon-style readings in which playwrights perform the roles and then discuss the plays in a format similar to that used in the Saturday Series. The discussions are moderated by a Resident Playwright or member of the artistic staff.
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