Constitutional Crisis Created By Slavery

The Lincoln Exhibit Coming Soon To Urbana University

URBANA, Ohio (January 9, 2014) - Three themes are considered in the national traveling exhibit, “Abraham Lincoln: The Constitution and The Civil War.” This exhibit considers the constitutional issues confronting President Abraham Lincoln: secession of Southern states, civil liberties, and slavery.  The exhibit can be viewed for free at Urbana University’s Swedenborg Memorial Library from February 8 – March 21, 2014.

Lincoln is widely acknowledged as one of America’s greatest presidents, but he was a controversial figure in his day and his historical reputation is contested today. Lincoln believed that slavery was immoral, but shared many of the same racial prejudices as his contemporaries.

His policy preferences about slavery and abolition evolved over time. For much of his political career he favored gradual, compensated abolition of slavery, and the colonization of freed slaves in South America or Africa. Because the authors of the Constitution had left slavery in the hands of individual states, it remained beyond the reach of the federal government. Eventually, the Civil War opened up new possibilities.  Lincoln believed the Constitution allowed the president to do in wartime what he could never do in times of peace.

In the crucible of the Civil War, Lincoln came to believe that for the nation to survive, slavery had to end. The signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 served to abolish slavery in the United States.

Visitors to the exhibit can learn more about the constitutional crisis created by slavery.  The exhibit is on display in the University library, located at 579 College Way, Urbana and can be viewed during regular library hours:  Monday – Thursday 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Saturday 12 noon – 4 p.m.; and Sunday 7 – 10 p.m. from February 8 – March 21, 2014.  The library and exhibit will observe the following spring break hours during the week of Monday, March 8 to Friday, March 14, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. For details about the exhibit hours and associated programs, see the website:

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.




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