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Civil War Presentation, With Food & Food For Thought, Coming to Watchung Hills HS

Civil War Community Night Open Free to Public on Jan. 13.

Watchung Hills Regional High School. By Linda Sadlouskos
Watchung Hills Regional High School. By Linda Sadlouskos

Information courtesy of Eleanor Mathews

Abraham Lincoln — the Great Emancipator — not only kept the union together, but also sharply divided the minds and hearts of the nation's citizens before, during and after the Civil War.    

On the evening of Monday, January 13th, as part of the commemoration of the consecration of the Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg, Pa., Watchung Hills Regional High School will sponsor a Civil War Community Night, at which two prominent Lincoln scholars will present differing viewpoints and debate the proposal: “Lincoln — Tyrant or Savior?”

The public is invited to attend the presentation free of charge, and also to enjoy food common to the era and view an 80-foot panorama with Civil War displays.

The presentation will begin promptly at 6:00 p.m., in the Performing Arts enter at the regional high school at 108 Stirling Road in Warren.

One of the speakers will be Dr. Louis Masur, Distinguished Professor at American Studies and History at Rutgers University’s School of Arts & Sciences, who recently has published “Lincoln’s Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union,” which was awarded the prize for the best book from the Abraham Lincoln Institute and the North Jersey Civil War Roundtable. 

Among Masur's other publications are: “The Civil War,” “The Soiling of Old Glory,” “Autumn Glory, Baseball’s First World Series,” and “Rites of Execution; Capital Punishment and the Transformation of American Culture, 1776-1865. He has also been the recipient of numerous awards for outstanding teaching and the humanities.

Taking an opposing viewpoint will be Dr. William Carrigan, Professor and Chair of the History Department at Rowan University, where he teaches courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, American Western History, U.S. Labor History, and Historical Methods. His  research interests include race and ethnicity in 19th Century America, the history of U.S. Southwest borderlands and the study of violence. He is the author of  “The Making of a Lynching Culture:  Violence and Vigilantism in Central Texas, 1836-1916,” which won the Richard Wentworth Prize in 2005.

The audience will be given the opportunity to challenge or comment upon speakers’ viewpoints.

“The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here…but it can never forget what they did here…” That was part of the terse message delivered by President Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863, at the consecration of the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Indeed, the world has not forgotten “those who gave their lives that the nation might live.”  Equally important: after more than 150 years, the world has not forgotten the solemn, yet stirring  message of the Great Emancipator who uttered them.

A panorama of displays relating to the Civil War era will complement the spoken portion of the event. A large traveling exhibit, in the form of an 80-foot panorama provided by the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History, will be on display in the  entry mall , to remain in place  until Feb. 17. Watchung Hills is a “partner” school with this educational organization that  provides exhibits dealing with various historical eras.

Food authentic to Civil War era will be available

Food authentic to the Civil War era will be exhibited by Cafeteria Manager Lisa Martin, and light refreshments will be available for purchase. Choir members will present music of the period. And visitors should not be surprised to see Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln and the President himself mingling with their guests.

Blue or Gray? Audience members from middle school age through adults will be able to review again the issues that nearly split a nation. 

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