Civil War 150: Lincoln Lectures at The Kentucky Museum.

By Admin, BuyLocalBG.com, BuyLocalBg@gmail.com/
Monday, November 14th, 2011 1:00 PM CST

The Civil War was a tragic conflict that tore apart our nation. In guiding the nation through this terrible time in its history, Abraham Lincoln had to make many decisions. But none were as difficult–or as momentous–as the decisions he had to make with regard to the Constitution. The traveling exhibition “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” will take you inside the issues.

This exhibition will be shown at the Kentucky Library & Museum from Now through December 6. It will be accompanied by a series of lectures that will place the Lincoln decisions in their historic and political framework. The exhibition and the lectures are free and open to the public.

There are 3 remaining lectures:

Lincoln’s Leadership and Communication Style on Monday, November 14:

Cecile Garmon
WKU Professor of Communication

Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation on Wednesday, November 16

Dr. Glenn LaFantasie
Richard Frockt Family Professor of Civil War History

Concluding Panel Discussion on Tuesday, December 6:

Glenn LaFantasie | Cecile Garmon

The exhibition explores Lincoln’s decisions organized around five themes, namely:

  • The Civil War as a Constitutional Crisis
  • Secession
  • Slavery
  • Civil Liberties
  • Legacy

The Civil War as a Constitutional Crisis

In 1861 the issue of slavery precipitated a national crisis framed largely in terms of constitutional issues. The framers of the Constitution had left unanswered some basic questions about the nature of the federal Union they had created: 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? By 1860, these unresolved questions had become ticking time bombs, ready to explode. Abraham Lincoln’s election as the nation’s first anti-slavery president brought the nation to the brink of war. Lincoln used the tools the Constitution gave him to confront three intertwined issues of the Civil War—the secession of Southern states, slavery and wartime civil liberties.


By the time Lincoln took the constitutional oath of office as president, seven states had already seceded from the Union. Four more soon followed. Southern secessionists believed they had the right to withdraw their states’ ratification of the Constitution and dissolve their connection to the Union. Northerners, however, rejected this idea of “state sovereignty.” They believed that when the Constitution was ratified, a united people had established an indivisible nation. Lincoln believed that state secession was unconstitutional and undemocratic. At Lincoln’s inauguration, he promised that the government would not attack the South if the Union was not attacked. But he also warned that he had taken a solemn oath to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution. What Southerners heard that day were not words of moderation but a declaration of war.



Lincoln is widely acknowledged as one of America’s greatest presidents, but he was a controversial figure in his day and his historical reputation is contested today. Lincoln believed that slavery was immoral, but he shared many of the racial prejudices of his day. His policy preferences about slavery and abolition evolved over time. For much of his political career he favored gradual, compensated abolition of slavery and the colonization of freed slaves in South America or Africa. In the crucible of the Civil War, he came to believe that for the nation to survive, slavery had to end. The signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 served to abolish slavery in the United States.

Civil Liberties

Lincoln claimed extraordinary powers in order to control the chaos of dissent during the Civil War. He suspended the writ of habeas corpus—the provision in the Constitution that protects citizens against arbitrary arrests. By 1863, thousands of civilians had been detained, mostly suspected draft dodgers and deserters and Confederate sympathizers in the Border States and the South. For these actions, Lincoln was denounced as a tyrant by his political foes. He struggled throughout the war to find the appropriate balance between national security and individual rights.


Lincoln’s fight to save the Union transformed the nation and the Constitution. Lincoln’s presidency left a legacy of ideals for our nation to live up to—equality, freedom and democracy. The powerful words of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address sought to transmit these ideals into future generations. The exhibition ends by asking visitors whether we as a nation have been faithful to this legacy.

Also check out the Civil War Trail (website link for trail) via the Convention and Visitors Bureau or Kentucky Museumon WKU’s Campus.

Past Civil War 150:

Part 1: Mt. Moriah Cemetery, resting place of “African American Union Soldiers.”

Part 2: The Confederate Graveyard and Monument of Bowling Green. Also, the Most Dangerous Confederate.

Part 3: “Defending the L&N Railroad Wayside Exhibit.”

Part 4: “Mt. Ayr & Fort Underwood”

Part 5: “Baker Hill and Downtown Bowling Green”

Part 6: “Confederate Defense Line and Rifle Trench.”

Part 7: “Fort C.F. Smith and College Hill.”

Part 8: “Fort Webb Park”

Part 9: “Hines Boatlanding and Civil War Hospital Exhibit.”

Part 10: “Bowling Green Courthouse displaying Confederate Medal of Honors and Federal Army Officers.”

Part 11: “Jonesville.”

Part 12: “Bowling Green’s Official Sesquicentennial Event.”

Part 13: “Henry Grider, Veteran of 1812, Whig, Unionist Congressman, Abolitionist and the 14th Amendment.”

Part 14: “Fort Lytle or Fort Albert Sydney Johnston.”

Part 15: “Kentucky Museum.”

Part 16: “L&N Railroad, ‘Civil War and the Railroad’ exhibit.”

Part 17: “The Presbyterian Church on State Street. Former School and Civil War Hospital.”

Also, there is a much better trail tour (we love this so much), check out the Civil War Trail (website link for trail) via the Convention and Visitors Bureau or Kentucky Museumon WKU’s Campus.

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