In December 1859 Abraham Lincoln visited Leavenworth, Kan., where, some would argue, he presented his first speech in his 1860 presidential campaign.

In December 1859 Abraham Lincoln visited Leavenworth, Kan., where, some would argue, he presented his first speech in his 1860 presidential campaign.

More than a century later, in 1969, recognizing the importance of this visit, Bernard Hall, MD, of Topeka, donated his collection of Lincoln artifacts, memorabilia, and other related items to the University of Saint Mary.

That collection, containing some 10,000 items, including a rare copy of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, is now housed in USM's DePaul Library Special Collections.
In recognition of this gift, as well as to make the collection better known and to use it to advance the study of the nation's greatest president, USM inaugurated an annual Lincoln Event, every February, on or about, Lincoln's birthday.

Over the years, the Lincoln Event has included lectures by leading Lincoln scholars, dramatic productions, musical events, and more. This year, as the nation celebrates the sesquicentennial of the Civil War (1861-1865) and in particular, of the Emancipation Proclamation (1863), the Lincoln Event will be special.
Let me speak to just three of the things we have scheduled and invite you to join us.

Framing the entire month will be a traveling exhibit on "Lincoln" The Constitution and the Civil War."

Seldom discussed in conversation about the Civil War is the question of whether President Lincoln, in the many things he did to save the Union, acted within the powers granted him by the Constitution.
This exhibit –organized by the National Constitution Center and the American Library Association with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities – explores that issue. It opens on Feb. 12 in USM's DePaul Library.

To enhance our understanding of what is presented in the exhibit, on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. in USM's Xavier Theater, as this year's Annual Lincoln Day lecture, Professor Jennifer Weber of the University of Kansas, and Civil War history specialist, will explore the topic of Lincoln and his use, or abuse, of the Constitution during the Civil War.

And one week later, on Feb. 25, also in Xavier Theater, award-winning author David VonDrehle will speak on Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. More specifically, he will discuss the course of events in 1862 that led Lincoln to issue the proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.

I would like to invite you to all three of these events.
The exhibit is open to the public, but you should check the university's website for times when it is available for viewing.
Easier yet, if you attend either or both of the lectures, while you are on campus, you will be invited to tour the exhibit, as well as to view selected items from the Hall Collection.

All events are free and open to the public. The exhibit, Lincoln and the Constitution, closes March 20.
For further information, check out USM's webpage devoted to the Lincoln events:

Bryan Le Beau is an historian and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Saint Mary.