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Lincoln exhibit coming to Urbana

We celebrate President’s Day in February. A day isn’t enough for Urbana University.

The school is devoting more than a month to Abraham Lincoln and the ongoing 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

“Abraham Lincoln: the Constitution and the Civil War,” a travelling exhibition devoted to the 16th president’s unique challenges opens Saturday and will run through March 20 at Urbana University’s Swedenborg Memorial Library.

Upon election in 1860, Lincoln inherited a nation on the brink of civil war. The exhibit gives insight into his approach to preserve the union, to end slavery and adhere to the Constitution.

“It’s a pretty amazing group of issues to consider,” said Julie McDaniel, director of library services. “It pulls all the information into one place. This helps us better understand the Constitution and how Lincoln had to approach it. When the Constitution was created it didn’t solve the slavery issue and it didn’t say anything about seceding from the Union and this left Lincoln with choices.”

The exhibition, based on a larger model at the National Constitution Center, features five panels dealing with different aspects facing Lincoln.

That’s just the beginning. Urbana University will also host events relating to the exhibition beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Lincoln himself will address the audience the way he would have in the 1860s at the Urbana University Student Center. Actor Fritz Klein of the Lincoln Institute has appeared on numerous programs in character and regularly performs at the Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Ill.

Lunchtime discussions, lectures by historians, authors and others will be presented over the next few weeks. Topics include “Lincoln and the Problem of Freedom,” “The Day Lincoln Spent in Dayton,” describing an 1859 visit, and “Nursing and the Civil War,” focusing on working conditions of nurses.

For the full list of events, go to

“Hopefully people will come and learn and reconsider what you thought you knew,” said McDaniel.

The exhibit is open during library hours, and there is no cost to attend.

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