Abe Lincoln In Illinois presents a vision that fits in with the legends of the sixteenth president that have been told to generations of American school children, but it gives these legends a human face. The play deals with Lincoln’s formative years. It focuses in particular on Lincoln’s growth from a shy, uneducated backwoodsman who was more willing to accept the enslavement of blacks than to accept war to the man who would lead half of the nation against the other half in the name of justice. When Sherwood’s play was brought to the stage in 1938, its parallels to the international political situation were obvious. Adolf Hitler had established himself as the dictator of Germany and had started his expansion across Europe, and the people of America, an ocean away, found themselves faced with questions about whether to fight for justice or maintain peace. As the play continued to run on Broadway, Hitler invaded more countries, raising more and more support for America’s entry into the war, giving audiences even more empathy for Lincoln’s dilemma. Today, it stands as a reminder of the responsibilities that come along with power and of the sort of person that Lincoln must have been. Among constitutional scholars, historians, and average citizens, he is still the country’s most respected president, and Robert Sherwood’s play offers a well-rounded view of Lincoln’s flaws as well as his greatness.