Lincoln exhibit on display at SU through March 4

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SALISBURY — Abraham 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”?

The traveling exhibition “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” does not offer easy answers to these questions, but encourages visitors to form a nuanced view of the 16th president by engaging them with Lincoln’s struggle to reconcile his policy preferences with basic American ideals of liberty and equity.

Salisbury University’s Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture Gallery, 190 Wayne St., hosts the exhibit Jan. 23-March 4. An opening reception is 7-9 p.m. Jan. 23.

In celebration of the exhibit, Kellee Blake, retired director of the National Archives Mid-Atlantic Region in Philadelphia, speaks on “The ‘Right Spirit’: Lincoln, Loyalty and Liberties on the Eastern Shore, 1861-1865.” Her presentation is 6 p.m. Jan. 23, in Perdue Hall’s Bennett Family Auditorium.

Elected at a time when the nation was on the brink of war, Lincoln struggled to resolve the basic questions that divided Americans: 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?

He used the Constitution to confront these crises of war, ultimately reinventing that document and the promise of American life.

Each section in the exhibit features information about a different aspect of Lincoln’s presidency. The section about slavery, for example, examines the various policy options the president once embraced and how his thoughts about slavery evolved over time.

Highlights include reproductions of original documents such as Lincoln’s first inaugural speech, the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment.

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. The traveling exhibition is based on an exhibition of the same name developed by the National Constitution Center.
Sponsored by the Nabb Research Center, admission is free and the public is invited. Gallery hours are 1-4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

For more information call 410-543-6312 or visit the Nabb Research Center website at http://nabbhistory.salisbury.edu.

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