The exhibition, “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War,” will be on display at Fort Bend County Libraries’ George Memorial Library, 1001 Golfview in Richmond, from February 23 through April 4, in the Bohachevsky Gallery.
An Opening Reception for the exhibit will take place on Saturday, February 23, beginning at 2:00 pm, in the library’s Meeting Room. Award-winning writer and Civil War scholar John C. Waugh will be the guest speaker, and we will then move to the Bohachevsky Gallery for the reception.
Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War , a traveling exhibition, examines how President Abraham Lincoln used the Constitution to confront three intertwined crises of the Civil War – the secession of Southern states, slavery, and wartime civil liberties. The exhibit is composed of informative panels featuring photographic reproductions of original documents, including a draft of Lincoln’s first inaugural speech, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Thirteenth Amendment. The documents are supplemented by letters, photographs, and images from Civil War soldiers and their families.
Lincoln is widely acknowledged as one of America’s greatest presidents, but his historical reputation is contested. Was he a calculating politician willing to accommodate slavery, or a principled leader justly celebrated as the Great Emancipator? This exhibition provides no easy answers. Rather, it encourages visitors to form a nuanced view of Lincoln by engaging them with Lincoln’s struggle to reconcile his policy preferences with basic American ideals of liberty and equality. This exhibition develops a more complete understanding of Abraham Lincoln as president, and the Civil War as the nation’s gravest constitutional crisis.
Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States in 1860, at a time when the nation was on the brink of war. Seven states had already seceded from the Union. Lincoln struggled to resolve the basic questions that divided Americans at the most perilous moment in the nation’s history: Was the United States truly one nation, or was it a confederacy of sovereign and separate states? How could a country founded on the belief that “all men are created equal” tolerate slavery? In a national crisis, would civil liberties be secure? President Lincoln used the Constitution to confront these three crises of war.
“We are delighted to have been selected as a site for this exhibition,” said Library Director Clara Russell. “As a new president, Abraham Lincoln was faced with enormous challenges. This exhibition shows how Lincoln struggled with issues of secession, slavery, and civil liberties – all questions our country’s founding charter left unanswered. Each section of the exhibit features information about a different aspect of Lincoln’s presidency. For example, the section about slavery examines the various policy options Lincoln once embraced, and how his thoughts about slavery evolved over time. More importantly, the exhibit helps visitors understand why Lincoln’s struggle with the Constitution still matters today.”
Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War , a traveling exhibition for libraries, was organized by the National Constitution Center and the American Library Association Public Programs Office. The traveling exhibition has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War is based on an exhibition of the same name developed by the National Constitution Center.