MILLEDGEVILLE — “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal,” said President Abraham Lincoln on the afternoon of Nov. 19, 1863.
Just a few months before his speech, the Union Army had defeated the Confederates on that very field, in one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.
“Now we are engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure,” Lincoln said as his speech continued.
Those words from the Gettysburg Address still invoke emotions and patriotism from a tumultuous time in our history.
“There are a number of reasons why Lincoln was an important president in American history,” said Dr. Rachel Shelden, assistant professor of history. “His fame and impact came in part from the misfortune of presiding during the country's darkest hour - the Civil War. The fact that he was assassinated just days after the war ended and he took a second oath of office has catapulted his fame as well.”
Lincoln’s actions during the Civil War are the focus of traveling exhibit stopping at the Old Governor’s Mansion this month.
“Lincoln: the Constitution and the Civil War” offers a new perspective on Lincoln that explores his struggle to meet the political and constitutional challenges of the Civil War. It also looks at how he used the Constitution to confront three major crises of the war—the secession of Southern states, slavery and wartime civil liberties.
Sponsored by the National Constitution Center, the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the exhibit will be showcased at the Old Governor’s Mansion from Oct. 2 to Nov. 15.
“Lincoln's gifts were an ability to learn on the job and his keen legal and political mind. He had great ambition, but that ambition was grounded in the desire to see the democratic experiment of the United States survive,” said Shelden.
“Everything he did stemmed from this goal and helped to guide him through his time as President.”
Shelden will present the guest lecture in conjunction with the exhibit on Nov. 7 at 6 p.m.
The mansion will also be hosting another Civil War era exhibit that focuses more on society than politics.
"What We Wore on our Heads: An Exhibition of Civil War Era Headwear” is also on display from Oct. 1 through Nov. 2.
This exhibit will feature a wide variety of mid-19th century headwear as well as interpretative panels on the customs of dress during the period.
“Both exhibits are important for the mansion because they take an intense look at both the political and cultural aspects of the time period,” said Matt Davis, director of the mansion.
Other events this month include:
• Mate Masie: “What I Hear I Keep” at the Sallie Ellis Davis House from Oct. 2 through 30. Mate Masie is dedicated to the idea of gaining wisdom, understanding and prudence through remembering the accomplishments of those who have gone before. The exhibit consists of 10 modular, freestanding photo-text panels that tell the stories of African-Americans whose accomplishments in a variety of fields have had a lasting, positive impact on this nation.
• “Pickett’s Charge: A Novel” will be presented by Charles McNair as part of the Old Governor’s Mansion lecture series on Oct. 26 at 6 p.m.
For more information or to schedule a visit, call 478-445-4545.