Touring exhibit brings Lincoln to Lawrence

Randall Edwards

Lawrence University’s Seeley G. Mudd Library will host the traveling exhibition entitled Forever Free: Abraham Lincoln’s Journey to Emancipation.The exhibit, which consists of two 75 foot panels, will reside on the second floor of the Mudd from January 21 to March 5. The panels contain reproductions of important historical documents, pictures, engravings, and other similar items. The purpose of the exhibit is to open a dialogue concerning slavery, abolition, and the rights of emancipated slaves during the post-Civil War years. The focal point of the work, as the title suggests, is Abraham Lincoln. The panels examine his youth, political ascendancy, role in the Civil War, and impacts he had on life during the reconstruction. Although the exhibit incorporates some elements of social history, it centers largely on a prominent historical figure; the exhibit text portrays Lincoln in a traditional heroic role.

Although the paneled exhibit may be intriguing and incite some debate, the events in conjunction with the exhibition just might end up taking center stage. To kick off the exhibit, Dr. Ronald White of the San Francisco Theological Seminary will give the address “Lincoln’s Greatest Speech.” To highlight this event, the Lawrence University Men’s Choir will sing and a reception will follow.

White’s speech is derived from his critically acclaimed book of the same name, which suggests that Lincoln’s greatest oration was his second inaugural address. White deals with the theological implications of Lincoln’s address and Lincoln’s notion that all of America, not just the South, sinned in regards to slavery. White’s speech promises to deal with many academically stimulating concepts.

Lawrence will also feature two professors of its own; Faith Barrett and Jerald Podair will take the podium. Barrett is scheduled to give a lecture and poetry reading, “Drums off the Phantom Battlements: American Poets and the Civil War.” Podair will examine Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Podair’s address, “Back Door to Freedom: The Paradoxes of the Emancipation Proclamation,” offers what may be seen as a nontraditional view of Lincoln. About his speech, Podair commented, “Lincoln’s issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation illustrates the theme that America often acquires morally laudable ends through morally ambiguous means.” The lecture offers some additional depth and differing historical perspective to the Lincoln exhibit.

Other speeches and events will take place in conjunction with “Forever Free.” For a comprehensive listing of times, along with bios and the full text of the exhibit, visit the Lawrence University Library home page.