By Scott Ackerman
As we move through the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, 2012 has already seen the anniversary of the bloodbath at Shiloh, and of the meat-grinder known as the Seven Days Battles. This fall, Antietam and Fredericksburg will effect commemorations worthy of the soldiers who fought and died there 150 years ago. Inextricably linked to the events at Antietam and Fredericksburg will be the commemoration of Emancipation, as Antietam provided the victory Lincoln needed to announce his proclamation to the public, while the disaster at Fredericksburg led many to wonder if Lincoln would follow through with his redefinition of the war. Amid all the celebration and thoughtful reflection, the anniversary of Lincoln’s first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet on July 22nd should not be overlooked. Although it marked neither the beginning, nor the end, of a profound revolution in American society, it was nonetheless a critical moment in the translation of slave agency into federal emancipation policy.
As we pause to remember what this mid-summer moment meant for the slaves still toiling on Southern fields, for the soldiers who would provide much of the Emancipations Proclamation enforcement, and for generations who struggled with the meaning of freedom in the war of the Civil War, let us also reflect on why Soldier’s Home proved so critical to the Emancipation saga. Gaining a respite from the crush of office seekers and social obligations of the White House, while enjoying the cool hillside breezes gave Lincoln the opportunity during those critical summer months of 1862 to fully consider the breadth, scope, and ultimately, the entire meaning of the Union war effort. Consequently, as you (hopefully) visit our site this weekend, this summer, or even this year, take a moment to picture Lincoln wandering these same rooms and grounds exactly 150 years ago, contemplating and crafting a document that would change the nature of the Union war effort, and ultimately, the nation as a whole.
Mr. Ackerman is a Historical Interpreter at President Lincoln’s Cottage.
A visitor reads Lincoln’s words of wisdom in “Can You Walk Away?”
The long-awaited exhibit on modern slavery in America opens to the public today at President Lincoln’s Cottage. Can You Walk Away? challenges people’s perceptions on this growing humanitarian issue at the very place President Lincoln developed his ideas on freedom in America 150 years ago.
Over 12 million men, women, and children are held in slavery across the globe today, more than at the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. “Plenty of Americans see slavery as an issue that was resolved during the Civil War or by the 13th Amendment in the war’s aftermath, not as a growing humanitarian crisis in our own country,” said Erin Carlson Mast, Director of President Lincoln’s Cottage. “But fundamentally, the same issue is at stake: People’s right to freedom.”
To create this exhibit, President Lincoln’s Cottage partnered with Polaris Project, a non-profit organization in Washington, DC that focuses on eliminating modern slavery and human trafficking in the United States and around the world. Polaris Project operates the National Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) that has received about 45,000 calls since 2007. Worldwide Documentaries, Inc., and The mtvU Against Our Will Campaign contributed also content for the exhibit.
Visitors hear testimonies from survivors of human trafficking, learn about the state of slavery today, and have a chance to become a modern abolitionist and join in movement to stop this crisis. The exhibit is open through August 2013 in the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center at President Lincoln’s Cottage. Mon-Sat 9:30am – 4:30pm, Sun 10:30am-4:30pm. The exhibit is free of charge but visitor discretion is advised as the exhibit contains graphic content that may be too sensitive for some guests.
To read the AP article on the exhibit click here.
Visit the exhibit site: www.lincolncottage.org/canyouwalkaway.html
President Lincoln’s Cottage opened Seat of War: A Panoramic View of Civil War Washington Through Historic Prints early this month in the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center at the Cottage. This exhibit illuminates President Lincoln’s Civil War Washington through historic prints from our collection. It will run through the holidays and close on January 15, 2012.
Civil War had arguably the greatest impact on Washington, DC of any single event in American history. Almost overnight, the seat of our nation’s government was transformed from a sleepy, southern town to the hub of the northern war effort, and was often referred to as the “Seat of War.” From views of the half finished Capitol dome to Lincoln’s intimate Soldiers’ Home retreat, this exhibit features our beautiful collection of prints, some of which are rarely displayed.The Cottage is a great place to visit with out of town family and guests! We will maintain our normal hours during the holidays (Mon-Sat: 9:30am-4:30pm; Sun: 10:30am-4:30pm) but we will be closed on Christmas Day and New Years Day. As always, be sure to check our website for updates, hours of operation, and other visitor information.
President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward
President Lincoln’s Cottage and the Office of the Historian of the U.S. Department of State are hosting a public program to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), the flagship publication of the Department’s Office of the Historian. Join Burrus Carnahan, noted Civil War and Lincoln author and scholar as he interviews Dr. Aaron Marrs, Civil War Researcher with the Office of the Historian, on Marrs’ new research that sheds light on foreign relations in the context of the Civil War.
Join us December 1, 2011 at 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Location: President Lincoln’s Cottage
Reservations are required – call (202) 829-0436 x31232 or email Sahand_Miraminy@nthp.org