Few events in history can still stir up controversy like the American Civil War. A devastating, bloody time in our nation’s past, the scars can still be found – on our landscape, in our memory. But the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, which is a fancy way of saying the 150th anniversary, has become a platform to encourage healing and diversity. This is especially true in Tennessee, where the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and partner organizations across the state are working together to offer inclusive, accurate, and fascinating commemorations of the Civil War to the public.
Soon after the Civil War ended, veterans groups held reunions in both the North and South in an effort to bridge the bitter divide that had separated our nation. But the era of Jim Crow and the Lost Cause soon followed. The Civil War Centennial coincided with the passionate fight for civil rights, and few would remember it as a time of inclusion or, let’s face it, an honest evaluation of the war. But fifty years later, so much has changed. In Tennessee, an attitude of inclusiveness and a celebration of diversity highlight many events commemorating the Civil War, including a stellar one this month in Nashville.
One hundred and fifty years ago this January, a determined, courageous President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. In doing so, he laid a foundation for citizenship and equality that has shaped the country ever since. What an incredible document it was, and still is. And this month, there is an unprecedented opportunity to see this national treasure at the Tennessee State Museum.
The Emancipation Proclamation makes it way to Tennessee (the only state to host it in the Southeast) due to the amazing efforts of the museum staff, which worked tirelessly with many partners to bring the document here. The Emancipation Proclamation will be on view in conjunction with the Discovering the Civil War exhibit from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Fragile and delicate, the document will be on display for just 72 hours from February 12 through February 18. (After that date, a facsimile will be in the exhibit, which will remain at the museum through September).
Although there is no charge to see the Proclamation, reservations are recommended due to the incredible level of interest in viewing it. Visitors may obtain a reservation at the windows; going online to www.tpac.org; or by calling (615) 782-4040. There will be a handling charge of $1.00 paid to TPAC Ticketing for each reservation. Walk-ins will be given a walk-in timed pass.
The document itself is delicate, but what it stands for is enduring and eternal. Freedom, equality, and the limitless possibilities of a nation that survived the very worst tragedy possible, and emerged better and stronger for the struggle. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to see a piece of history that changed our country forever.
Interested in learning more or making reservations? Visit the Tennessee State Museum website.
– Laura Stewart Holder