Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War

Booth Library will host a national traveling exhibit titled “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” from Sept. 4-Oct. 16. In addition to the national exhibit, a variety of related exhibits will be on display in the library on a variety of subjects, including Lincoln’s connection to Coles County. During the six-week period of the exhibit, the library will host several programs related to the Lincolns and the Civil War era. More information is available on the series web page here.

Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War offers a fresh perspective on Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. Organized thematically, the exhibition explores how Lincoln used the Constitution to confront three intertwined crises of the Civil War — the secession of Southern states, slavery, and wartime civil liberties. The exhibition presents a more complete understanding of Abraham Lincoln as president and the Civil War as the nation’s gravest constitutional crisis.

Even as the convention that framed the U.S. Constitution ended in September 1787, Americans began debating critical issues that their founding charter left unresolved. Were the states truly “united”? How could a country founded on the belief that “all men are created equal” tolerate slavery? Would civil liberties be safe in a national emergency? Like ticking time-bombs, these issues threatened to explode.

Finally, with the election of Abraham Lincoln as the nation’s first anti-slavery president, they did. As the country plunged toward civil war, Americans wondered whether their new president-elect — a one-term congressman and trial lawyer from Illinois — could resolve the crisis. Would Abraham Lincoln survive the test? Would the nation?

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.

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