Thursday, September 25, 2008

UIS Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series will examine "Lincoln and Presidential Campaign Politics"

The 2008 Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series presented by the University of Illinois at Springfield will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, October 15, in Brookens Auditorium, located on the lower level of Brookens Library at UIS.

This year's topic is "Lincoln and Presidential Campaign Politics." The lectures and a reception and book signing that will immediately follow are free and open to the public.

Lincoln Legacy Lectures bring nationally known scholars and policy experts to Springfield to discuss issues that, while they are of contemporary interest, also engaged Abraham Lincoln and citizens of his era. Speakers focus on the topic's modern form as well as how Lincoln addressed it.

This year's featured speakers -- Dr. Jennifer Weber, assistant professor of History at the University of Kansas, and Dr. Silvana Siddali, associate professor of History at St. Louis University -- will draw parallels between the presidential campaigns of 1860 and 1864 and the campaign currently underway. The discussion will be moderated by Illinois State Historian Dr. Thomas Schwartz.

Dr. Weber (left) will speak on "How Lincoln Handled the Antiwar Movement." Lincoln faced harsh criticism from the outset of the Civil War. Antiwar Democrats objected to encroachments on civil liberties and to Lincoln's claims to expanded presidential powers. His strategy for dealing with Democratic critics was, for the most part, to ignore them -- an approach that very nearly failed. Weber will discuss how Lincoln's now-highly-regarded leadership might be considered today if the 1864 election had been held three months earlier, before the Northern armies started winning.

Dr. Weber is the author of Copperheads: The Rise and Fall of Lincoln’s Opponents in the North (Oxford University Press, 2006). Her works-in-progress include a collection of essays in honor of Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War historian James M. McPherson, with whom she studied as a doctoral student at Princeton University. She was an invited scholar at the conference marking the opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in 2005, and she currently serves on the advisory panel for the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

Dr. Siddali (right) will speak on "Lincoln and the Constitution in Civil War Era Presidential Campaigns," will examine how the presidential campaigns of the time caused American voters to consider a number of crucial issues, including the perpetuity of Union and the right to extend or prohibit slavery in new territories. Both parties framed the contest as a vote on the Constitution, yet neither side foresaw the sweeping constitutional changes that would result.

Siddali is the author of From Property to Person: Slavery and the Confiscation Acts, 1861-1862 (Louisiana State University Press, 2005) and the forthcoming Missouri's War: The Civil War in Documents (Ohio University Press, 2008). She has been the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, including grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and was also an invited presenter at the opening ceremonies for the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Dr. Siddali received her Ph.D. in History from Harvard University.

Program moderator Thomas F. Schwartz (left) is chief historian for exhibits and content in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and director of Research and the Lincoln Collection in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.

An acknowledged authority on Lincoln and his times, Dr. Schwartz is a widely published author. He serves as senior editor of the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association and as historical advisor for the Journal of Illinois History. He is also a member of the advisory board for the state and federal Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial commissions.

Presented by the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership, this year's Lincoln Legacy Lectures Series is also a University of Illinois Lincoln Bicentennial event. Cosponsors of this year's lectures are: UIS Speakers' Awards Committee, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Public Affairs and Administration, and Office of Undergraduate Education. The lectures are also made possible this year by a gift from Bill and Nancy Simpson of Springfield.

In previous years, lectures have focused on Lincoln and Race (2002), Ethics and Power (2004), Lincoln and Economic Opportunity (2005), Lincoln and America's Faith (2006), and Lincoln and the Law (2007).

Seating in Brookens Auditorium is limited; however overflow seating will be available in conference room C/D, where the audience can watch a large-screen live video feed. Conference room C/D is located on the lower level of the Public Affairs Center at UIS. Those unable to attend in person can watch a live webcast by going to at the time of the event.

For more information, contact the Center for State Policy and Leadership at 217/206-6576.