Sunday, November 6, 2011

Civil War Sunday - Lincoln and the Constitution Exhibit

UPDATE:  I just realized that November 6, 1860 was the date Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States.  How could I have missed it?  But I must have subconsciously been thinking of that when I wrote this post!

So much to blog about...so little time.

We are fortunate to have two local Civil War exhibits in town at the same time.

One, the Civil War exhibit in our local museum, the Roberson Museum and Science Center, I will write more about in a future post.  I visited it last Sunday (no pictures) during an open house.  What I really loved about the exhibit is that most of it focused on local events and participants - teaching me a lot that I did not know about.

The other, "Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War", is on exhibit at the Broome County Library through December 14.  This free exhibit is brought to us by the National Constitution Center of Philadelphia.  (Check out their Interactive Constitution which can be searched by topic, or keyword.)

(Painting of Lincoln that hangs, year round, in the Broome County Library).

Lincoln, from the moment of his election, had to grapple with Constitutional issues which are still relevant today.     After his election, a number of states had seceded from the Union. The federal Fort Sumter, located in Charleston harbor -now in the Confederacy-was running low on supplies.  If it was restocked, Lincoln knew the Confederacy would consider that an act of war.  What should he do?  The restocking proceeded.

At the start of the Civil War, many people thought it would be over in a matter of weeks.  The author(s) of these "postcards" likened the war to a boxing match that would be quickly won by the North.  How sadly wrong they were.


Another hard choice Lincoln had to make was the suspension of the "writ of Habeas Corpus".  This exhibit touched briefly on those issues, especially the events in Maryland immediately after the shelling of Ft. Sumter.  Indeed, today, we still struggle with how much freedom should be permitted during times of war, and the balance between freedom and the protection of our nation.

Later came the Emancipation Proclamation, which is another aspect of Civil War history that is misunderstood by a lot of people - it did NOT end slavery.  But it did have a very profound effect on the history of our country.

The Gettysburg Address, whose 150th anniversary is coming up later this month, was also discussed.  Many consider the Gettysburg Address as one of the greatest speeches in the history of our country.  Bloggers have a lot to learn from that speech.

This exhibit is a very simple telling of a lot of complex issues, many of which I have not studied extensively. (My focus on Civil War history tends to be more oriented towards the people and culture of the era than legal issues). For that reason, I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about these issues.

1 comment:

  1. I struggle with understanding all of the politial and legal issues myself. One day, if time allows, I'd really like to take a college level course on this "War Between the States".

    ReplyDelete

Hello! I welcome comments, as long as they are civil, are on topic, and do not contain profanity, advertising of any kind or spam. Any messages not meeting these criteria will immediately be composted, and my flowers will enjoy their contents.