EDISON, NJ – Currently on display at the Edison Main Library, 340 Plainfield Avenue, is the nationally acclaimed traveling expedition called Lincoln: The Constituiton and the Civil War. Edison's library was one of 150 across the country that was awarded the display out of thousands of libraries that applied for the opportunity. The exhibition, designed to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the conclusion of the Civil War, will be open to the public until June 25th.
Edison Library Director Judy Mansbach explained the criteria on which Edison's library was selected as a site for the exhibition. “We were able to offer the kind of programming to support the exhibit, and we offered the type of library system that the American Library Association Programs Office was looking for.”
Dr. Louis Masur, Distinguished Professor of American Studies at Rutgers University, delivered the opening lecture on the biggest challenges facing President Abraham Lincoln as he navigated the country's way through the Civil War, including secession, civile liberties, and slavery. The event was well attended by Civil War buffs and other historical enthusiasts.
“Rutgers University Past President, Dr. Richard McCormack, was in attendence,” stated Mansbach. “We had a very good crowd that evening. Following Dr. Masur's lecture there was a question and answer session, and then the audience had an opportunity to view the exhibit.”
On Thursday, May 28 Alisa DuPuy visited the library as a Clara Barton re-enactor. DuPuy told the story of New Jersey resident Clara Barton, dressed in period costume. She spoke of Barton's contributions to the war effort, wartime medicine, and her working relationship with the male dominated medical community.
Harold Holzer, one of the most renowned Lincoln experts in the country, will do a final lecture on Lincoln on Thursday, June 11th at 7:00 p.m. Holzer, author of 42 books, and appointed by President Clinton as Chair of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Committee will share his unique insights ito Lincoln's decisions during the critical period near the end of the war.
The exhibit itself displays photographs, documents, and famous quotes from notable people during the period. For example, one of the earliest panels of the exhibition is entitled “Lincoln Takes Charge . . . the beginning of the War.” It noted that due to the fact that Congress had adjourned in March of 1861, when Fort Sumter was fired upon in April, President Lincoln was forced to declare war without the approval of the legislative body.
Lincoln summoned 75,000 state militiamen and urged other members to enlist, released millions of dollars from the treasury to help private citizen purchase military equipment, authorized martial law, and ordered the blockade of Southern ports.
Another panel of the exhibition covers the importance of the passing of the 13th Amendment, ratified on December 6, 1895, eight months after the assassination of President Lincoln. The passage of the 13th Amendment is considered Lincoln's greatest constitutional legacy as he believed that it would preserve for all time the emancipation that he had ordered as a war time measure. As is noted in the exhibit, the 13th Amendment states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude . . . shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Mansbach gave one little teaser for those who have not yet visited the exhibit to come and see it. “We've just received a trunk that is full of Civil War artifacts that we will be opening and putting on display very soon. Wce are very proud and grateful that we were awarded this grant, and we hope that parents will bring their children to the library to see and discuss it.”