Press/Journalists

Press Release
January 13, 2012

National Archives Program Explores Lincoln and the Constitution January 26

Lincoln Scholar Harold Holzer and others to explore Lincoln’s actions and legacy

Washington, DC…On Thursday, January 26, at7 PM, the National Archives presents a panel discussion on President Abraham Lincoln and the Constitution. The program is free and open to the public, and will take place in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Attendees should use the Special Events entrance, located on the National Mall at Constitution Ave. and 7th Street, NW. Metro accessible on the Yellow and Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter station.

No President faced a more severe Constitutional crisis—or tested the limits of the Constitution more daringly—than Abraham Lincoln. The Civil War can be viewed as a struggle between competing visions of constitutional law, represented on one side by Lincoln's view that the United States was a permanent Union of one people united by a "supreme law," and on the other by Jefferson Davis's view that this country was group of sovereign states whose legal ties could be dissolved at any time and for any reason, subject only to the judgment of those states that the cause for dissolution was sufficient. Alternately opposed and supported by the justices of the Supreme Court, Lincoln guided the war-torn nation on an uncertain, but ultimately triumphant, path to victory, saving the Union, freeing the slaves, and preserving the Constitution for future generations. Lincoln also left a legacy of helping create what are called the “laws of war” - international rules that cover the balance between national security and civil liberties in wartime, including protecting civilians, preventing torture, and limiting the horrors of combat.

Authors and historians Mark E. Neely, Jr., Brian McGinty, and Frank J. Williams—with Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer as moderator—probe these and other issues that still resonate in America: the limits of executive authority, the meaning of the law of war, and the legacy of America’s 16th President. Book signings of the following books will follow the program; the books are available at a discount from the Archives Shop (202-357-5271) before and during the event:

Brian McGinty, The Body of John Merryman: Abraham Lincoln and the Suspension of Habeas Corpus;
Mark Neely, Lincoln and the Triumph on the Nation: Constitutional Conflict in the American Civil War;
Harold Holzer, Lincoln on War; and
Frank Williams, Abraham Lincoln, Esq.: The Legal Career of America's Greatest President

Harold Holzer is one of the country's leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. A prolific writer and lecturer, Holzer serves as chairman of The Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, successor organization to the United States Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. Holzer has authored, co-authored, and edited 41 books.

Mark E. Neely, Jr., is a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and an authority on the U.S. Civil War in general and Abraham Lincoln in particular. Neely is author of numerous books including The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties, which won the Pulitzer Prize.

Author, attorney and historian Brian McGinty specializes in American history and law. He is the author of many books including Lincoln and the Court and John Brown’s Trial.

Frank J. Williams, founding chairman of the Lincoln Forum, is former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island (ret.). His books include Abraham Lincoln: Sources and Styles of Leadership, and Abraham Lincoln Contemporary: An American Legacy. His latest book, Judging Lincoln, is a collection of his lectures and essays.

The National Archives is fully accessible. To verify the date and times of the programs, call 202-357-5333, or view the Calendar of Events online.

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For Press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at (202) 357-5300.

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