Join Prof. Bryan H. Wildenthal from Thomas Jefferson School of Law as he discusses Abraham Lincoln and the Constitution on Thursday, February 19th 12-1pm at our Downtown location. The American Civil War of 1861-65 was also a constitutional crisis. In 1860 the issue of slavery precipitated a national crisis framed largely in terms of constitutional issues. The framers of the Constitution had left unanswered some very basic questions about the nature of the federal Union they had created: Was the United States truly one nation, or merely a confederacy of sovereign and separate states? What was the basis of U.S. and state citizenship and the extent of freedom of migration and travel throughout the country? 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? By 1860, these unresolved questions had become ticking time bombs, ready to explode. Abraham Lincoln’s election that year as the nation’s first president from the new Republican Party, on a platform opposed to any further expansion of slavery, brought all these issues to a head. President Lincoln used (and in some cases stretched) the tools the Constitution gave him to confront the three primary constitutional issues of the Civil War: the secession of Southern states, slavery, and wartime civil liberties.

This event is part of our Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War exhibit.

Lincoln: the Constitution and the Civil War, a traveling exhibition for libraries, was organized by the National Constitution Center and the American Library Association Public Programs Office. The traveling exhibition has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Lincoln: the Constitution and the Civil War is based on an exhibition of the same name developed by the National Constitution Center.