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'Lincoln, The Constitution and The Civil War' opens at Hagerstown Community College

Exhibition focuses on Lincoln's struggle to push forward his policies, whether they coincided with American ideals of liberty and equality, and whether they were Constitutional

August 27, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Patrick Snouffer, a sophomore at Hagerstown Community College, takes notes Monday near the "Lincoln, The Constitution and The Civil War" exhibit at HCC's Kepler Center.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

Andrew Drum had never seen a picture of the Bible used in President Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration in 1861, but that changed Monday with a picture that is part of a display of Civil War-period images and information in the Kepler Center at Hagerstown Community College.

Where Lincoln would keep important things like speech notes is one of the tidbits of information included in the display.

“I didn’t know Lincoln would store things in his hat,” said Drum, 19. “It’s cool how they made use of what they had.”

The exhibit, called “Lincoln, The Constitution and The Civil War,” is a traveling exhibition that opened in the Kepler Center lobby Saturday and runs through Sept. 27, according to an emailed release from HCC.

The exhibition focuses on Lincoln’s struggle to push forward his policies, and whether they coincided with the American ideals of liberty and equality, and whether they were Constitutional.

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On display were portions of the Gettysburg Address, South Carolina’s Declaration of Causes of Secession and pictures of newspaper reports about the Civil War. 

Drum, who is in his second year at HCC and is from Middletown, Md., said he is interested in the Civil War and was also interested in how the exhibit described the debates framed during the war.

“It was a difference not only of slavery,” he said. “The war was also about what power the states should have versus what power the federal government should have.”

The exhibit frames three debates about the Civil War: Whether the United States at the time was “truly one nation or a confederacy of sovereign and separate states”; how a country founded on the principle that “all men are created equal” could allow slavery to exist; and if civil liberties would be secure in a national crisis, which references Lincoln’s suspension of the writ of habeas corpus during the war.

Pictures of Lincoln are seen throughout the exhibit, including some from before he became president.

Sarah Travis, a second-year student at HCC, said the pictures were what initially drew her in.

“The pictures are really detailed, and I love how it gave a lot of information,” said Travis, 20. “What made me look at it was just the big face of Lincoln.”

The National Constitution Center, the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities sponsored the exhibition, said Anne Myers, manager of HCC’s Continuing Education and Community Services Department. It is based on an exhibit of the same name developed by the National Constitution Center.

HCC is one of 200 places to house the exhibition, which has been on a tour throughout the year, Myers said. She said the area’s proximity to the Civil War and HCC’s involvement in studying the Civil War made the college a fitting place for the exhibition.

“We have quite a bit of connections with nationally known historians and Civil War experts, and this is an area that is rich in American history,” Myers said. “Antietam (National) Battlefield is just south of us, the entire Maryland Campaign stretches east and south of us, and our proximity to Gettysburg is also a tie-in to the Civil War.”

Free lectures focusing on the themes of the exhibit are  being held in the Kepler Theater, Myers said. The first lecture was Saturday, and the next two will be Saturdays, Sept. 8 and 22, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Speakers at the lectures include historians Thomas Clemens and Roger Swartz, and attorney John

Fitzpatrick, according to the release. Myers said the school received $750 from the sponsors for the lectures.

The exhibit is open Monday to Friday, through Sept. 27, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m.

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