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Reece Museum to host 'Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War'

President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 8, 1863. Image courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

JOHNSON CITY – “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War,” an exhibit that examines how President Abraham Lincoln used the Constitution to confront three intertwined crises of the Civil War – the secession of Southern states, slavery and wartime civil liberties – will open Thursday, June 13, at the Reece Museum on the campus of East Tennessee State University.

This traveling exhibition, which will be on display through July 26, includes informative panels featuring photographic reproductions of original documents, including a draft of Lincoln’s first inaugural speech, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

It is organized by the National Constitution Center (NCC) and American Library Association Public Programs Office and made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH): Great Ideas Brought to Life.  The traveling exhibition is based on one of the same name developed by the NCC.

In connection with the exhibit, the Reece Museum will host a series of free public lectures sponsored by the Department of History. 

The first will be “Words Fitly Spoken: Abraham Lincoln, the Constitution, and the American Civil War” by Dr. Stephen Berry, chairholder of the Gregory Chair in the Civil War Era at the University of Georgia.  The former NEH fellow is the author of House of Abraham: Lincoln and the Todds, A Family Divided by War and All That Makes a Man: Love and Ambition in the Civil War South.

Berry’s 6:30 p.m. lecture on Friday, June 14, will take place in conjunction with the exhibit’s opening reception, which begins at 6 p.m. at the museum.

“We are delighted to have been selected as a site for this exhibition,” said Theresa Hammons, Reece Museum director.  “As a new president, Abraham Lincoln was faced with enormous challenges.  This exhibit shows how Lincoln struggled with issues of secession, slavery and civil liberties – all questions our country’s founding charter left unanswered. 

“Each section features information about a different aspect of Lincoln’s presidency.  For example, the section about slavery examines the various policy options Lincoln once embraced and how his thoughts about slavery evolved over time.  Most importantly, the exhibit helps visitors understand why Lincoln’s struggle with the Constitution still matters today.”

Admission to the museum, reception and lecture is free.  Museum hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday; and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.  Parking passes are available for weekday visits, and groups may call ahead for tour reservations.

For more information or special assistance for those with disabilities, contact the Reece Museum at 439-4392 or .  The museum’s website is www.etsu.edu/cass/reece.