National traveling Lincoln exhibition opens at Headquarters Library July 8

June 12, 2015

The Alachua County Library District presents a new traveling exhibit “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War,” opening at Headquarters Library on Wednesday, July 8. This national exhibition tells the story of Abraham Lincoln’s struggle to meet the constitutional challenges of the Civil War and examines how President Lincoln used the Constitution to confront three intertwined crises of the Civil War — the secession of Southern states, slavery and wartime civil liberties.. The exhibit runs through August 21, and includes an opening reception on July 12, and an educational talk on August 5. This exhibit and programs will be at Headquarters Library located at 401 E. University Avenue.

“We are delighted to have been selected as a site for this exhibition,” said Library Director Shaney T. Livingston. “Each section of the exhibit 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.”

This exhibition develops a more complete understanding of Abraham Lincoln as president and the Civil War as the nation’s gravest constitutional crisis. Lincoln is widely acknowledged as one of America’s greatest presidents, but his historical reputation is contested. Was he a calculating politician willing to accommodate slavery, or a principled leader justly celebrated as the Great Emancipator? This exhibition provides no easy answers. Rather, it encourages visitors to form a nuanced view of Lincoln by engaging them with Lincoln’s struggle to reconcile his policy preferences with basic American ideals of liberty and equality.

Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States in 1860, at a time when the nation was on the brink of war. Lincoln struggled to resolve the basic questions that divided Americans at the most perilous moment in the nation’s history: 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? President Lincoln used the Constitution to confront these three crises of war, ultimately reinventing the Constitution and the promise of American life.

The National Constitution Center and the American Library Association Public Programs Office organized the traveling exhibition, which was 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 an exhibition of the same name developed by the National Constitution Center.

The traveling exhibition is composed of informative panels featuring photographic reproductions of original documents, including a draft of Lincoln’s first inaugural speech, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment.

The public is invited to two special programs, the first is an opening ceremony on Sunday, July 12, at 2:30 p.m. University of Florida Professor Matt Gallman will discuss Lincoln's role in the Civil War and lead a tour of the exhibition. An Evening with Abraham Lincoln on Wednesday, August 5, 7 p.m., will feature Abe Lincoln speaker and impersonator Lew Welge. He will talk about Lincoln’s life. Both programs will be at Headquarters Library.


For more information about these programs or the exhibition, Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War, please contact (352) 334-3939 or Nickie Kortus,, or (352) 334-3909, or visit




If a person with a disability needs an accommodation in order to participate in this event he or she is entitled, at no cost to him or her, to the provision of certain assistance.  Please contact the Alachua County Library District at 352-334-3910 at least three (3) days prior to the event.  TTY users please call 711 (Florida Relay Service). 


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