Booth to have Lincoln, slavery panel discussion

Liz Dowell, Copy Editor

Booth Library will be putting on an Abraham Lincoln panel discussion about race and slavery at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Coleman Hall Auditorium.

Beth Heldebrandt, the public relations director for Booth Library, said all of the speakers are history professors, including Terry Barnhart, Charles Foy, Mark Hubbard, Malgorzata Rymsza-Pawlowska and Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz.

“The name of the exhibit is Lincoln the constitution and the Civil War,” Heldebrandt said. “It very specifically looks at those years where Lincoln was president and (when) the Civil War was going on.”

The moderator is Lynne Curry, a history professor at Eastern.

Slavery was one of the biggest disagreements between the North and South during the Civil War.

“The South wanted to able to own slaves and the North didn’t think it was necessary,” Heldebrant said. “At the begging, Lincoln just wanted to stay out of that whole decision and just let the states decide on its own.”

The panel will not only be covering topics such as the Civil War, but also the Constitution.

Heldebrandt said the issues Lincoln dealt with were very difficult and unique to only his presidency.

“He is really the only president who had to deal with this issue, no president before or since has had his own country split in half the way Abraham Lincoln did,” Heldebrandt said.

Heldebrandt said even some historians think how Lincoln approached dealing with the issue was both unconstitutional and controversial.

Lincoln was forced to make some important and controversial decisions during that era, and they are controversial for some historians who look back, Heldebrandt said.

“Some of the things he did were, in some people’s viewpoints, went against the Constitution,” Heldebrandt said. “So he actually suspended some of the rights offered to U.S. citizens granted under the constitution.”

Heldebrandt said Lincoln did what he thought was right to keep the country together; she said he was trying to keep the south from seceding and becoming their own country.

Heldebrandt said abolishing slavery was not one of Lincoln’s top priorities during the Civil War; he was forced into it.

“A lot of people think that the Civil War was all about slavery, and it was a very important issue, but if you look at what Abraham Lincoln said though, his main goal was to keep the union together,” Heldebrandt said. “He was forced, more or less, in his view, to address the slavery question.”


Liz Dowell can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]