An exhibit examining President Abraham Lincoln’s Constitutional crisis during the Civil War will open today at Indiana State University’s Cunningham Memorial Library.
“Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War,” a traveling exhibit based on an exhibition of the same name developed by the National Constitution Center, 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.
Composed of informative panels, the display features photographic reproductions of original documents, including a draft of Lincoln’s first inaugural speech, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment. Guides, lesson plans and other resources for K-12 educators are available by contacting Cinda May, chair of Special Collections at 812-237-2534.
The exhibit opening will be marked by a free public program conducted in the events area of the library from 3 to 6 p.m. today.
David Gellman, professor of history at DePauw University, will discuss “Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War and Citizenship.” His presentation will be followed by a performance of Indiana State’s Ebony Majestic Choir. A reception will follow the program, and a walkthrough tour of the exhibit, which will be on display through March 21.
Lincoln is widely acknowledged as one of America’s greatest presidents, but his historical reputation is contested. The exhibition encourages visitors to form their own view of Lincoln’s leadership by engaging them with the 16th president’s struggle to reconcile his policy preferences with basic American ideals of liberty and equality. Visitors develop a more complete understanding of Lincoln’s presidential role and the Civil War as the nation’s gravest constitutional crisis.
“As a new president, Abraham Lincoln was faced with enormous challenges,” May said. “This exhibition shows how Lincoln struggled with issues of secession, slavery and civil liberties — all questions our country’s founding charter left unanswered.”
The exhibit, sponsored by the library and department of history, is free. 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.