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Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War

brochure image“Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War,” a traveling exhibition opening in the Library mid- June, examines how President Lincoln used the Constitution to confront three intertwined crises of the Civil War—the secession of Southern states, slavery and wartime civil liberties.

The National Constitution Center and the American Library Association Public Programs Office organized the traveling exhibition, which was made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Columbus State learned nearly two
years ago that the exhibit would come to our campus, and has eagerly awaited the arrival of exhibit materials in the Library. 

Lincoln exhibit site

A special preview of the exhibit will be available to Columbus State students and employees, starting Wednesday, June 19. The grand opening to the public will be held the following Friday, June 21. The exhibit runs through August 16.

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.

“We are delighted to have been selected as a site for this exhibition,” says Bruce Massis, director of the Library. “As a new president, Abraham Lincoln was faced with enormous challenges. 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. Most importantly, the exhibit helps visitors understand why Lincoln’s struggle with the Constitution still matters today.”

The traveling exhibition 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.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Library will offer a series of lectures by Columbus State faculty members, as well as the Lincoln Film Series, which will screen five different movies including the Oscar Award-winning “Lincoln” directed by Steven Spielberg, and Ken Burn’s “The Civil War.” Movies will rotate through the week, and continue throughout the two-month exhibit schedule. Columbus State’s Bookstore will also sponsor a special section of books and educational materials about the Lincoln presidency for the duration of the exhibit.

A Library Guide is also online, where you can take a video tour of the exhibit and find thousands of reference materials on the Lincoln presidency.