“Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” is the traveling version of an exhibition developed by the National Constitution Center for the 2010-2015 commemoration of the Civil War sesquicentennial. Funded by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the exhibition is administered by the American Library Association, whose traveling exhibitions are “designed to encourage visitors to go beyond the images and to explore exhibition themes with the help of programs and bibliographic aids offered by host libraries.”
In 2009, Norwalk Community College was one of only twenty-five sites in the nation awarded the opportunity to host “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War.” The ALA had received so many grant proposals that it subsequently decided to expand the program to an additional two hundred libraries.
According to the ALA, “This exhibition 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.
“Lincoln is widely acknowledged as one of American’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. This exhibition develops a more complete understanding of Abraham Lincoln as president and the Civil War as the nation’s gravest constitutional crisis.”
Quotations from the ALA’s Site Support Notebook, http://www.ala.org/offices/ppo/programming/lincoln/lincoln-ssn