03 13, 2021

US Civil War: Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address

By |2021-03-13T12:00:43-05:00March 13, 2021|

Our Civil War series with James A. Garfield National Historic Site continues with a look at Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address.

Has any president in US history been inaugurated under such fraught circumstances as Lincoln? States had already begun seceding from the Union. With his first inaugural address, he hoped to avoid a war. So what exactly did he say and what did he mean?

This session of our Civil War series is led by Todd Arrington, the site director at Garfield National Historic Site.

Our Civil War series continues next month at noon on Wednesday, April 14. Arrington will return to discuss the history of the Grand Army of the Republic, the predecessor to the American Legion, VFW, and other veterans groups. The talk will be hosted via Zoom. Registration is required, and you can sign up on our website.

Finally, if you’re interested in Civil War history, several talks in our Civil War series can be viewed online in their entirety, including:

02 22, 2020

The Life of Abraham Lincoln

By |2020-02-22T06:00:15-05:00February 22, 2020|

He’s on the short list of most important Americans ever. So what can you say about Abraham Lincoln in one short hour? A lot, actually.

Todd Arrington (site manager for James A. Garfield National Historic Site) guides you through the tragedies and triumphs of Lincoln’s life.

You can join our Civil War series  each month. It continues at noon on Wednesday, March 11 at our Main Branch. We’ll discuss the famed Irish Brigade.  They fought in most of the major battles of the war’s eastern theater and had the third-highest number of brigade members killed in action of all Union brigades during the war. As always, the talk is free and open to all.

By the way, if you’re interested in Civil War history, several talks in our Civil War series can be viewed online in their entirety, including:

04 21, 2019

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

By |2019-04-21T06:00:08-04:00April 21, 2019|

No presidential assassination is inconsequential, but Abraham Lincoln’s murder was a pivotal moment in our nation’s history. It set the tone for the lengthy and contentious Reconstruction Era – though perhaps not the way in which his assassin, John Wilkes Booth, and co-conspirators intended.

Learn all about Booth, his conspiracy to behead the Union, and Lincoln’s final hours from the experts at James A. Garfield National Historic SiteYou’ll discover:

  • how Booth was able to target and kill Lincoln so easily
  • the story of the first woman ever executed by the US government
  • the surprising connection between Edwin Booth (the assassin’s brother) and Robert Lincoln (the president’s son.)

Our Civil War series continues at noon on Wednesday, May 8, at our Main Branch. We’ll learn about the Fourteenth Amendment. As always, the talk is free and open to all.

By the way, if you’re interested in Civil War history, several talks in our Civil War series can be viewed online in their entirety, including:

11 19, 2016

5 Things You Didn’t Know about the Gettysburg Address

By |2016-11-19T06:00:03-05:00November 19, 2016|

gettysbug-addressExactly 153 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln spoke at a newly commemorated national cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

He spoke briefly—a mere 262 words—but those words are still remembered verbatim by hundreds of people, and even the most apolitical Americans can recall its most famous phrases: “Four score and seven years ago;” “the last full measure of devotion;” “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Todd Arrington from James A. Garfield National Historic Site visited us earlier this month to deconstruct the Gettysburg Address.

Here are five things you might not know about Lincoln’s famous speech.

1. Abraham Lincoln received a last-minute invitation to the ceremony

Lincoln wasn’t the keynote speaker that day. (More on that later.) Instead, David Wills—a local attorney who had spearheaded the creation of the national cemetery in Gettysburg—sent him a letter earlier that month, encouraging the president to attend and offer “a few appropriate remarks.”

2. Lincoln barely spoke for two minutes

Lincoln’s comments were so concise that none of the newspaper photographers could snap a photo of him while he spoke. (Remember, photography was much more of an ordeal back then.) Lincoln concluded his remarks before anyone could ready their camera.

3. Lincoln was not the primary speaker that day

As previously alluded, Lincoln’s speech was intended as an epilogue for the ceremony. The keynote speaker was Edward Everett—a renowned orator who served as the president of Harvard, ambassador to Britain, senator, and governor of Massachusetts during his life.

He spoke for two hours. While pretty much everyone has heard of the Gettysburg Address, almost no one can muster a word that Everett spoke that day.

4. Lincoln did not initially realize the historic import of his speech

Historically speaking, Lincoln got a lot of things right. However, he misjudged how his speech would be remembered. During his address, he said, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”

He was only half right.

5. Not everyone was impressed by the Gettysburg Address

Shortly after Lincoln’s speech, Harrisburg’s Patriot & Union (a Democrat newspaper) panned it. They published:

We pass over the silly remarks of the President. For the credit of the nation we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that they shall be no more repeated or thought of.

But 150 years later, they retracted their critique.

For what it counts, Edward Everett realized that he had been upstaged. He later wrote Lincoln, saying, “I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”

Learn about the Road to Appomattox during a free talk

Learn about the Road to Appomattox during a free talk on Thursday, Dec. 15, at Mentor Public Library’s Main Branch.

Our ongoing Civil War series continues in December.

At noon on Wednesday, Dec. 14, we’ll discuss the history and legacy of Confederate General James Longstreet.

Then, we’ll talk about Grant’s pursuit of Lee and the road to Appomattox at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 15.

Both talks will be at our Main Branch. They are free and open to the public.

The speakers are rangers or park volunteers from James A. Garfield National Historic Site—which also holds a wealth of information on the Civil War where President Garfield served as a brigadier general.

Go to Top