By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Perfect place for a Lincoln exhibit

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Linfield College, which in 2008 celebrated its own sesquicentennial — 150th anniversary — is a fitting site for upcoming exhibits and programs focusing on the life and times of Abraham Lincoln.

As a nation, we are midway through a sesquicentennial of that most important time in our history.

The Civil War Trust continues its recognition of the great North/South war, which began with Confederate fire on Fort Sumter in April 1861 and ended in June 1865 with a final signing of Confederate surrender terms.

It was April 8, 1864, almost exactly 150 years ago, when the U.S. Senate approved the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Short, straight-forward and long-debated, the document stated:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

The historic amendment was not approved by the House of Representative until Jan. 31, 1865, and did not receive final ratification by the required two-thirds of states until Dec. 6, 1865 — eight months after President Lincoln was assassinated.

Last year, I joined millions who were captivated by “Lincoln,” a 2012 film by Steven Spielberg that focused on the contentious House of Representatives debate on the 13th Amendment. It was based, in part, on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography, “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” a fascinating story of how President Lincoln pulled together and governed his independent and multi-partisan cabinet.

More recently, I joined more millions of people in watching the tortuous Academy Award winner, “12 Years a Slave.” It’s impossible to contemplate the sesquicentennial of Civil War times and Abraham Lincoln’s life without feeling a combination of shame at man’s inhumanity to man and marvel at the cultural changes since that time.

Visitors to Linfield College, for six weeks beginning Wednesday, will see the traveling version of “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War,” an exhibit that opened in 2005 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. The exhibit schedule overlaps a variety of related events, including the May 8-10 conference, “The Political Thought of Abraham Lincoln,” which will draw seven noted Lincoln scholars to town.

Kudos to Linfield for assembling the impressive 2014 program. Details in today’s news story, and stories to come, will remind readers of these opportunities for historical engagement with a time that produced the survival of our United States.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.

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