LINCOLN: The Constitution and the Civil War -- EXHIBIT & PROGRAMS

©2009 Alusiv, Inc.

ON EXHIBIT at Providence Public Library

December 1 – January 21, 2014

150 Empire Street – Reference Area, 1st floor


“Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” 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 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? 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. 

Image: The Gettysburg Address. Owned by John George Nicolay, Lincoln’s private secretary. Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

All are invited to take a guided walk through the LINCOLN Exhibit on Saturday, December 7 at 10:30 am.

Classroom teachers and other community groups are welcome to arrange a guided walk-though; please call Louise Moulton at 401-455-8134 or email to reserve a time.

Visit the Library's accompanying exhibit with related items from Providence Public Library’s Special Collections - Providence Journal Rhode Island Room, First Floor.


Monday, December 2 - 6:30 pm

KENOTE: Abraham Lincoln at Midpoint: Emancipation and Gettysburg, presented by Frank J. Williams, Chief Justice (Retired)

Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the battle at Gettysburg and President Lincoln’s address, Rhode Island’s preeminent Lincoln scholar Chief Justice Frank J. Williams (Retired) will deliver the keynote lecture.

Frank J. Williams was appointed Chief Justice of the R.I. Supreme Court by Governor Lincoln Almond and confirmed in January 2001. He served as Chief through December 2008, when he took “senior” status as a jurist without administrative duties.

Chief Justice Williams is one of the nation’s leading scholars on the life and times of Abraham Lincoln. In 2000, he was appointed to the U.S. Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission by the Congress and now serves on the board of its successor, The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation. He is Chair of the Rhode Island Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration Commission. In addition, he is   a major collector of Lincolniana, a peripatetic lecturer before Lincoln and Civil War groups, bar associations and judicial conferences throughout the country. His books include, with Edna Greene Medford and Harold Holzer, The Emancipation Proclamation: Three Views (2006). His latest book Lincoln Lessons: Reflections on America’s Greatest Leader, with William D. Pederson (2009), and his Lincoln as Hero   has just been published.


Sunday, December 8 - 2:00 pm

Book Sale & Signing to follow

"The Greatest Question Ever Presented to Practical Statesmanship:" Abraham Lincoln and the Problem of Reconstruction, with John C. Rodrigue

  The date of this lecture, December 8, is the exact date of the sesquicentennial (150 years) of the announcement  in 1863 of what is often regarded as Abraham Lincoln’s formal plan of Reconstruction. It was commonly referred to as the “ten-percent plan.” While we commemorate the Civil War sesquicentennial, including both the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg address, Lincoln’s Reconstruction Plan doesn’t get as much attention. Dr. Rodrigue will share his thoughts on its historical significance, which was even discussed in the recent Spielberg Lincoln movie.

John C. Rodrigue is the Lawrence and Theresa Salameno Professor of History at Stonehill College, Easton, Mass. He is the author of Lincoln and Reconstruction (2013) and other scholarly works on the Civil War and Reconstruction era and the history of the American South.

Thursday, December 12 - 7:00 pm

Book Sale & Signing to follow

Gettysburg's Unknown Soldier, with Mark H. Dunkelman 

Gettysburg's Unknown Soldier relates one of the best known human interest stories to emerge from the battle, telling how a dead Union soldier was identified by means of the photograph of his three children he clutched in his hand as he died. The incident caused widespread publicity throughout the North and inspired a flood of prose, poetry, and song.

Mark H. Dunkelman is a historian, artist, and musician. A native of Buffalo, New York, and graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, he has written five books and dozens of articles on various aspects of the history of the 154th New York, the Civil War regiment in which his great-grandfather (and Amos Humiston) served. He lives in Providence.

Thursday, December 19 - 7:00 pm

Book Sale & Signing to follow

Home of the Brave: Immigrant Medal of Honor Recipients of the Civil War, with Les Rolston

Les Rolston was born in 1954 and has studied American history for most of his adult life. His greatest interest is in the lives of ordinary people, who in times of crisis, do  extraordinary deeds.

His first book, Lost Soul: A Confederate Soldier In New England (Mariner 2007 (second edition), described his efforts to preserve the unmarked grave site of a Confederate soldier buried in Rhode Island. As a result of this book Rolston gained national attention, telling his story through the Associated Press and television programs. He has received citations from the Rhode Island House of Representatives and a letter of commendation from former United States Senator Claiborne Pell. He was also awarded the Jefferson Davis Medal, the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s highest award. 

Les Rolston recently published Home Of The Brave: Selected Short Stories Of Immigrant Medal Of Honor Recipients Of The Civil War. He is a frequent contributor to The Providence Journal and his work has appeared in the South Reporter, Civil War Times Illustrated, Our Heritage, The New Orleans Times-Picayune and other publications.

Sunday, January 12 -  2:00 pm

Book Sale & Signing to follow

Quilts and Textiles -- Legacies of the American Civil War, with Madelyn Shaw

Join Museum Curator and Consultant, Madelyn Shaw, at a presentation based on her new book, Homefront and Battlefield:  Quilts and Context in the Civil War. There will be a book sale and signing after the presentation.

The flag motif was used on the home front in everyday objects from aprons, shirts and slippers to shawls, handkerchiefs and especially quilts. These objects were made by women for their households and even shipped off to their soldiers at war. The flag motif seen on just about anything and everything made for comforting tokens of their allegiance and reminders of their loyalties and responsibilities to their families, communities and nations.

Ms. Shaw is a well-respected museum curator and consultant, and has created exhibitions for the New Bedford Whaling Museum and the American Textile Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. She has been affiliated with The Museum at F.I.T., NY and the RI School of Design.  In addition to her expertise on textiles of the Civil War era, she also lectures on textiles connected with the maritime trades, aviation, and the fashion industry.

Thursday, January 16 - 6:30 pm

The Historic Shang Bailey House, Anthony Ursillo 
Join Anthony Ursillo of Johnston, Rhode Island and learn of his association with the historic Shang Bailey Roadhouse and his passion to be Shang's storyteller.
The presentation will concentrate mainly on Frederick (Shang) A. Bailey’s time spent in the infantry during the Civil War (1860-1865) and his imprisonment in three confederate prisons during that period. His shenanigans during this time are of great interest and quite entertaining.
Mr. Ursillo will also touch on Bailey’s connection with the P.T. Barnum Circus and his illicit business practices throughout his career. Anthony Ursillo is a member of the Johnston Historical Society.


Sunday, January 19 - 2:00 pm

Book Sale & Signing to follow

Hidden History of Rhode Island and the Civil War, with Frank L. Grzyb

 The smallest state to defend the Union and one far from the battlefront, Rhode Island's stories of the Civil War are often overlooked. From Brown University's John M. Hay, later to become Lincoln's assistant secretary, to the city of Newport's role as the temporary headquarters for the U.S. Naval Academy, the Civil War history of the Ocean State is a fascinating if little-known tale. Join author Frank L. Grzyb as he investigates Rhode Island's rich Civil War history and unearths century-old stories that have since faded into obscurity.

Frank Grzyb is a decorated combat veteran and author of several military history books. His work has been featured in America's Civil War, Civil War Monitor, and The Civil War Times. He is a member of the Rhode Island Civil War Round Table, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

FIELD TRIP -- Governor Henry Lippitt House

Join us for a tour of this historic mansion on Providence’s East Side built during the Civil War and completed in 1865.

Day:   Saturday, January 18, 2014

Time: 1:30 pm – meet at Lippitt House,199 Hope Street, Providence

Cost:   $8/adult (discounted group rate)

Slots are limited to 15 attendees – please register early!


Built at 199 Hope Street in Providence for textile merchant Henry Lippitt, his wife Mary Ann Balch Lippitt and their six children, the house was completed in 1865 and occupied by several generations of the Lippitt family for 114 years. Over the years the family made only a few changes respecting the historic integrity of their ancestor's legacy. The house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976 and is an exceptional testament to local craftsman of the time. The majority of the family’s furnishings still exist in the house.

In 1865 the Lippitt's new home, a three story, twenty room Renaissance Revival with Italian Palazzo elements positioned the family to a new social standing in 19th century Providence. Embellished with elaborate faux finishes from the walls to the ceilings, marble statues, colorful stained glass windows, ornately carved woodwork details and monogrammed dining service the family was ready to entertain in high style. Visitors included the founding families of Providence and the renowned Professor Alexander Graham Bell and later generations entertained Cole Porter and Jack Lemmon.



1:00 - 4:30 pm -- Auditorium (3rd Floor)

December 6:  Gone with the Wind (1939) Directed by George Cukor 

December 13: Friendly Persuasion (1949) Directed by William Wyler

December 20:  The Red Badge of Courage (1951) Directed by John Huston

December 27:  Shenandoah (1965) Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen

January 3:  Glory (1989) Directed by Edward Zwick

January 10Gettysburg (1993) Directed by Ronald Maxwell

January 17:  Cold Mountain (2003) Directed by Anthony Minghella

January 24:  Lincoln (2012) Directed by Steven Spielberg


ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S CROSSROADS -- Visit our website featuring an online game

Match wits with Abraham Lincoln by exploring his political choices and leadership decisions.

An animated Lincoln introduces a situation, asks for advice and prompts players to decide the issue for themselves, before learning the actual outcome. At the end of the game, players discover how frequently they predicted Lincoln's actions.



The Gilder Lehrman website provides teaching modules and lesson plans for signifi cant events related to the Civil War.
The Rutgers University Eagleton Institute of Politics provides a “Digital Archive of American Politics” that includes a Civil War timeline.
The Abraham Lincoln Association provides access to the Roy P. Basler edition of “The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln” in a searchable database with links to classroom material, a bibliography, and “The Lincoln Log,” a daily chronology of the life of Abraham Lincoln.
The Library of Congress’s “Abraham Lincoln Papers” website provides access to approximately 20,000 original documents with transcriptions searchable by key words. This site also includes a useful Emancipation Proclamation timeline.
The National Constitution Center offers a variety of methods and materials to aid teachers in their mission to inspire active citizenship in their students.
History Place website provides a timeline of Abraham Lincoln’s life along with photographs and speeches.



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.

The traveling exhibition is composed of informative panels featuring photographic reproductions of original documents, including a draft of Lincoln’s first inaugural speech, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment.