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Talk on Historic Elections to Help Close Lincoln Exhibit

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
July 2nd, 2013

An award-winning author will deliver the closing lecture for Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War, a traveling exhibit brought to campus by the West Virginia University Libraries and currently on display at the Erickson Alumni Center.

Kenneth C. Martis, Professor Emeritus of Geography at WVU, will shed new light on the 16th president’s ascent to the White House and his fight for a second term. The talk is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 16 in the Erickson Alumni Center’s Barnette Room.

“Almost every political contest has interesting situations or issues, but Lincoln’s re-election bid stands above them all,” Martis said. “Questions arose as to whether an election could take place in a democracy during a civil war. We’re going to examine those concerns and arguments.”

Along with delving into those controversies, Martis will cover the 1860 and 1864 elections in Virginia and West Virginia and focus especially on the scene in Monongalia County.

His presentation, “Regions, Parties and Voting: The Presidential Elections of Abraham Lincoln,” is based, in part, on the election maps in a book he co-authored in 2006. The Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections: 1788-2004 is the first four-color county atlas of all American presidential elections.

The atlas received the Library Journal Best Reference Book prize and the Association of American Publishers award for Outstanding Single Volume Reference Book in the Humanities & Social Sciences.

Dr. Martis is the author or co-author of six award-winning books on American elections and the United States Congress. He was the first awardee of WVU’s highest academic and research honor, the Benedum Distinguished Scholar.

In 2006-2007, the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences named Martis Teacher of the Year. In 2007-2008, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) honored him with the West Virginia Professor of the Year Award.

“Dr. Martis has a scholar’s knowledge and understanding of the circumstances and details concerning Lincoln’s two elections,” said John Cuthbert, Director of the West Virginia and Regional History Center. “This is a great opportunity to learn more about a person and a time that greatly impacted who we are today as West Virginians.”

Attendees will also have time to explore the exhibit. Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War examines how Lincoln used the Constitution to confront three intertwined crises of the Civil War – the secession of Southern states, slavery and wartime civil liberties.

Based on an exhibition developed by the National Constitution Center, the traveling version is composed of informative panels featuring photographic reproductions of original documents, including a draft of Lincoln’s first inaugural speech, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Thirteenth Amendment.

The National Constitution Center and the American Library Association Public Programs Office organized the exhibit, which was made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The exhibit, presented in conjunction with the WVU Libraries’ festivities commemorating 150 years of statehood this year, will be on display at the Erickson Alumni Center through July 17. It is open to the public from 8:15 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Monday-Friday. For more information, contact Monte Maxwell, 304-293-0306, or

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