The second exhibit, "Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War," which opens in Newman Library on September 5, is a collaboration between the American Library Association Public Programs Office and the National Constitution Center. Its tour began in 2009 and will continue until 2015, for which each host had to apply for the exhibit to be displayed in their space.
Ewing said this exhibit will showcase Lincoln as a decision and policy maker in the context of the Civil War. The Morrill presentation will show the connection between Virginia Tech and the president during that time, Purcell said.
Virginia Tech has also organized the Lincoln Lectures series to compliment the touring exhibit while it is on campus.
“Each of the speakers will come in September and October and will talk about Lincoln as a transformative political leader both in relation to the Morrill Act and his other kinds of influence,” Ewing said.
James I. Robertson, a retired Tech history faculty member, will present a lecture about Lincoln as a decision maker and as a leader, and historians from other universities will be speaking as well. Ewing said there will be other events to tie in the lecture series with the exhibits.
“We have some partnership with the public library and Radford University, so they are also developing some programs that will be related to the Lincoln and the Constitution exhibit,” Purcell said.
In Purcell’s personal interest in presidential history, she has found Lincoln to be interesting in particular because he was the quintessential American self-made man.
“If you just learn a little bit about him, he was so interesting and complicated,” Purcell said. “He grew up really poor without any kind of advantages, but he was smart and funny and he worked really hard and really believed in what he did.”
Ewing and Purcell both said Lincoln strived to help the country recover from one of its darkest eras by building it up and focusing on areas outside of the disputes. The Morrill Act, which led to the establishment of Virginia Tech, is one example.
“Again, it was an act that was passed during a war when the federal government had other priorities but they realized the importance of investing in education,” Ewing said.