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Law Library Lincoln exhibit explores life, death of 16th president

By Ariana Johnson

February 2, 2012

The Cleveland-Marshall Law Library, in association with the American Library Association National Endowment for Humanities and the National Constitution Center, has created a traveling exhibition on the life and times of President Abraham Lincoln.

The exhibit, “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War,” goes on an in depth tour of the 16th president’s life from his childhood in Springfield, Ill., to his assassination at Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865.

“I think what people will learn about Lincoln is that he dealt with very difficult questions, he wasn’t always beloved,” said Jan Babbitt, associate director of Cleveland-Marshall Law Library. “He took some extraordinary steps like our president would do today. He tried to find a peaceful compromise to the problem of slavery; something that would make everyone happy and not spread the institution of slavery.”

It’s common knowledge to CSU students that Lincoln was elected president 1860. The social and civil climate in the United States in 1860 was tumultuous.

African-Americans were still enslaved in most southern and some northern states.
To some, Lincoln was considered unpatriotic and public enemy number one due to his thought that all citizens, regardless of ethnicity, should not be enslaved.
Some U.S. citizens at the time ironically thought there would be economic war if slaves were free to pick their own careers, dreams and destinies.

A lot of people think that Lincoln had other motives behind emancipating the slaves; however, the exhibit at CM LAW does not explore those “conspiracies.”
On opening night, CM- LAW hosted a reception in honor of the new exhibition. Sadly, it was on the worst day of the year weather-wise.

“It wasn’t a huge turnout, but I was impressed by the number of people. It was a pretty good turnout considering it looked like a huge snow storm,” said Kristina L. Nierdringhaus, director of the CM-Law Library.

Law professors Dr. Don Forte, Dr. Dennis Keating and Dr Lolita Buckner Inniss spoke on topics like post- Civil War attitudes toward segregation in the legal profession, Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus in the interest of national security and African slavery among the Cherokee.

Despite the interesting information, the Lincoln Exhibition holds a lot of the patrons of the Law Library notice the exhibition in passing because of their busy schedules, but they think it is a great thing for the students at CSU.

“I really haven’t seen it; I just pass it to and fro” said Tony Coy, a CSU student. “I guess if people will take a second look and get a better understanding and all about the Civil War and that’ll be good,” said CSU alum William Norman.

There will be more celebrations in honor of the exhibition on Feb. 8 at the Waetjen Auditorium.

Event organizers are planning a reenactment of the debate between President Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.

An actor portraying Lincoln will also be delivering the Gettysburg Address and a one act play; Lincoln’s Last Debate Confrontation at Hampton Road is scheduled to be performed by reenactors Mel Maurer, William Vodrey and John Fazio.

For more information about “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” visit www.law.csuohio.edu