New Brunswick Free Public Library

60 Livingston Ave
New Brunswick NJ 08901

New Brunswick Free Public Library

Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War

Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War
(Image copyright 2009 Alusiv, Inc.)

The New Brunswick Free Public Library hosted the traveling exhibition "Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War" from August 15 to September 28, 2012. This exhibition tells the story of Abraham Lincoln’s struggle to meet the constitutional challenges of the Civil War.

   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. Abraham Lincoln was confronted with enormous challenges when he was elected president in 1860. The nation was on the brink of Civil War, and Lincoln struggled with issues of secession, slavery and civil liberties—all questions our country’s founding charter left unanswered. President Lincoln used the Constitution to confront these three intertwined crises of war, ultimately reinventing the Constitution and the promise of American life. This exhibition develops a more complete understanding of Abraham Lincoln as president and the Civil War as the nation’s gravest constitutional crisis.

National Constitution Center logo   ALA logo   NEH logo

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 library would like to thank the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission for providing funding for programming which the library presented in conjunction with this traveling exhibit, as well as supplies for the library's accompanying local history display.

Public Programs

The library also presented the following accompanying programs:

Sonny Hand Friday, August 24
The Soldier: A Living History Presentation by Harold "Sonny" Hand.
Sonny Hand was born and raised in Atlantic County, NJ. At an early age, his grandmother told him of her grandfather, Sam Morey, and his service in the Union cavalry in the Civil War. Sonny's interest was piqued, and he started digging, learning that his great-great-grandfather had served in a Pennsylvania unit. Many years later (in 2000) he had gathered enough material to publish One Good Regiment, the first regimental history of the 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry. As a result of these years of research and study, Mr. Hand is now a Civil War living historian. (Visit his website here.)
His presentation, which he gave in full uniform, concentrated on the life of the Civil War soldier.
2:00 - 4:00 PM in the Community Room.
This program is suitable for all ages!
[*View pictures of this event on Flickr!]

Robert Costello as Abraham Lincoln Saturday, August 25
Meet President Lincoln!
One of the most famous presidents of our country visited the library!
Robert F. Costello will portray Abraham Lincoln and give insight into his life. As his website says: Mr. Costello has a unique way of making you feel that you are in the presence of the 16th president. Over the years, Mr. Costello has appeared before many audiences of a wide variety. He has won acclaim for his portrayal of the man who rose from a humble beginning on a rural farm to become the 16th president of the United States. A Civil War reenactor, Mr. Costello has evolved into the man who changed America into truly a nation "where all men are created equal."
2:00 - 4:00 PM in the Community Room.
This program is suitable for all ages!
[*View pictures of this event on Flickr.]

Harriet Tubman's Great-GrandNiece Sunday, September 9
Friends of the Library Present a Talk with Harriet Tubman's Great-Grandniece

Pauline Johnson, a great-grandniece of Harriet Tubman, spoke about the history and life of her historically significant relative. Johnson has traveled extensively in and out of the country, lecturing at educational institutions, churches, libraries, and other organizations. She continues to serve as a tour guide upon request at the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn, New York. She served on the Advisory Board of the 1816 Farmington Quaker Meeting House in Farmington, NY, where Tubman held some of her meetings when planning her trips to the south. Johnson is a member of the NAACP, the Harriet Tubman Boosters Club, and the Thompson Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Auburn.
Following Pauline Johnson's talk, a brief video documentary entitled "Nana Tubman Honor in Ghana Journey" by Marilyn Herod was introduced by Linda Cousins-Newton, an educator/playwright, ancestral storyteller, and founder of the Nana Tubman Honor in Ghana Project.
Talk: 2 - 3 PM in the Carl T. Valenti Community Room;
Reception: 3 - 4 PM in the Henry Guest House.

This talk was co-sponsored by 'Tales and Miles to Go' and the Friends of the New Brunswick Library. Additional funding was provided by the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission, Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, through a grant provided by New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.
[*View pictures of this event on Flickr.]

Dr. Clement Price Wednesday, September 12
Special Reception Featuring Dr. Clement Price.
A recipient of numerous awards and honors, Dr. Clement A. Price chaired President Obama's transition team for the National Endowment for the Humanities and currently is vice chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Price is a Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor at Rutgers, one of the highest faculty honors at the university. Along with teaching history, he has played leadership roles with many organizations in New Jersey. Published widely in African American history as well as American cultural policy and American urban history, Price shares his expertise in African American history as a member of the Scholarly Advisory Committee of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. (For more information about Professor Clement Price, visit this page.)
After a special reception hosted by the New Brunswick African American Heritage Committee, Dr. Price talked about how African Americans participated in securing their freedom.
Reception: 6 - 7 PM in the Henry Guest House;
Talk: 7 - 8:30 PM in the Community Room.

This program is suitable for ages 10 and up.
[*View pictures of this event on Flickr.]

Joseph Bilby Saturday, September 15
New Jersey Soldiers in the Civil War: A Talk by Joseph Bilby.
Joseph G. Bilby was born in Newark, NJ, received his BA and MA degrees in history from Seton Hall University, and served as a lieutenant in the First Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1966-1967 and in the Army Reserve as assistant economics officer in the 303rd Civil Affairs Company from 1968-1970. He has taught military history on the community college level and lectured widely on Civil War and New Jersey history. He is currently part time Assistant Curator of the New Jersey National Guard and Militia Museum in Sea Girt, NJ, and a freelance writer and historical consultant. He is the author, editor or co-author of fifteen books and over 300 articles on New Jersey history and folklore, military history and outdoor subjects in both Internet and print venues and also a columnist for The Civil War News and New Jersey Sportsmen News. Mr. Bilby has appeared on the History Channel's Civil War Journal, the Discovery Channel's Discovery Magazine, and RTE, the Irish National television network, as an expert on the Civil War and 19th century firearms. He is a member of the Society of the First Infantry Division as well as the Company of Military Historians, a Trustee of the NJ Civil War Heritage Association, a member and publications editor of New Jersey's official Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee and content editor of the Committee's website. (For more on Joe Bilby, visit this page.)
Mr. Bilby gave a presentation on Civil War soldiers, including colored troops, from NJ.
2:00 - 3:00 PM in the Community Room.
This program is suitable for ages 13 and up.
[*View pictures of this event on Flickr.]

Dr. William Gillette Sunday, September 23
The Role of New Jersey in the Civil War: A Reconsideration, by Dr. William Gillette.
Gillette is the author of The Right to Vote: Politics and the Passage of the Fifteenth Amendment; Retreat from Reconstruction, 1869-1879; and Jersey Blue: Civil War Politics in New Jersey, 1854-1865. He is also a frequent lecturer and has delivered more that 81 guest lectures in the United States, Austria, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Russia. Appointed to the New Jersey Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission in 2009 by Governor Corzine, Gillette is the recipient of numerous awards. Most recently, he received a Fulbright distinguished lectureship and occupied the Nikolay V. Sivachev Distinguished Chair in American History at Moscow State University in Moscow, Russia. Gillette, who earned his bachelor of science degree in foreign service from Georgetown University and his master’s degree from Columbia University, received his doctorate from Princeton University. (For more on William Gillette, visit this page.)
Dr. Gillette talked about New Jersey's response and participation in the Civil War. He examined the role and record of New Jerseyans on the battlefront and in home-front politics.
2:00 - 3:00 PM in the Community Room.

This program is suitable for ages 13 and up.
[*View pictures of this event on Flickr.]

Union Army Recruitment Broadside, 1863
Union army recruitment broadside, 1863.
Image Courtesy of the Library Company of Philadelphia

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Volunteer Docent Information

The library would like to thank all the volunteers who acted as docents to allow the exhibit to be open to the public!

Secession vs. Union illustration Harper's Weekly 1863
Secession vs. Union illustration, Harper’s Weekly, 1863.
Image Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

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Thematic Websites

Abraham Lincoln

Civil War



Underground Railroad

Panoramic view of East Cemetery Hill, Gettysburg, 1909
Panoramic view of East Cemetery Hill, Gettysburg, 1909.
Image Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

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Regular Hours: Mon-Thurs: 10am-9pm; Fri & Sat: 10am-5pm; Sunday*: 1-5pm (*except in Summer)