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ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT | Civil War Days, Naperville

BRINGING HISTORY TO LIFE NAPERVILLE–Experience a weekend of raging cannons, marching infantry and fascinating presentations to see what life was like at a Civil War encampment. The event takes place Saturday and Sunday, May 20-21 from 10am-4pm at Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville.

Hundreds of reenactors participate at Civil War Days by staging a battle each day at 2:30pm and by performing as famous historic figures. Learn how the nation transformed through the insights of legendary people who impacted United States history.

Portraying Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln for almost 30 years, Max and Donna Daniels have retired as reenactors, but have decided to make an exception for Naper Settlement’s Civil War Days.

“Naper Settlement was the first Civil War reenactment that we had ever done,” said Daniels. “We were actors in the community and we were originally looking for a venue to do our play on the Lincolns. When we asked Naper Settlement, they asked us to be a part of their Civil War Days instead. So we kind of owe our career in reenactment to [the museum]. It’s like a homecoming each year.”

Still performing in schools and libraries, the Daniels feel incredibly fortunate to have had a career depicting history in a relevant and entertaining way imparting the stories of prominent figures in U.S. history for younger generations.

“Lincoln is a symbol of what America can be,” said Max Daniels, who was first casted as Lincoln for his close resemblance to the 16th President. “A young man who started out life with literally nothing – in a log cabin with a dirt floor - his story shows that there’s nothing this country cannot give you to overcome. It’s a very powerful message if people are willing to listen.”

Donna also looks forward to portraying Mary Todd Lincoln each year for the opportunity to explain the women’s side of the Civil War. She says that people tend to only think about what the men were doing, like the politicians and generals, but there’s a lot to learn, especially about the stress Mary was dealing with as the first lady and the criticism she endured.

Presentations and debates will also take place throughout the weekend, including a discussion between Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Topics will include the Dred Scott decision, where an enslaved man was denied the right to sue for his freedom which ultimately led to the nomination of Abraham Lincoln; as well as the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed people in Kansas and Nebraska to decide for themselves whether or not to allow slavery within their borders which infuriated many in the North.

This family-friendly event features food, fun, music and shopping on “Sutler’s Row” for traditional Civil War-era reproduction products. Naper Settlement’s historic buildings will be open for touring during Civil War Days. The Weed Ladies will also be selling spring silk and dried florals in the Daniels House. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call (630) 420-6010.

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