The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will continue its new Collegiate Series featuring a lecture on Abraham Lincoln and West Virginia statehood with Marshall University Professor Kevin Barksdale on Feb. 11, and a lecture on the Civil War with West Virginia University (WVU) Professor Peter Carmichael on Feb. 12. Both programs begin at 7 p.m. The lectures will be held in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater at the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The series consists of performances and lectures by students and faculty from West Virginia University and Marshall University. First Lady Gayle Manchin is the host of the program. The Collegiate Series is free and open to the public.
The Monday, Feb. 11, program entitled “From Lincoln’s Desk: Secession, Slavery, and the Birth of West Virginia, 1861-63” features Dr. Kevin Barksdale who will recount the formation of the state of West Virginia from the political perspective of President Abraham Lincoln. The lecture will examine Lincoln and his cabinet’s role in the hotly debated political issues surrounding West Virginia statehood.
Barksdale will use correspondence between the Lincoln administration and the political leadership of western Virginia to capture the internal debates, political calculations, and personal opinions that emerged among the president and his closest advisors regarding the constitutionality, political expedience and potential windfalls of supporting the admission of West Virginia into the Union as America’s 35th state.
Despite Lincoln’s central role in the eventual creation of the Mountain State, his support for the statehood movement was not a foregone conclusion. The president grappled with the constitutionality of the creation of West Virginia and the movement’s relationship to the contentious issue of slavery and the ongoing Civil War. “In the end, by reexamining the politics of statehood from the political vantage point of Lincoln, the creation of West Virginia amidst the chaos and tragedy of the Civil War becomes even more remarkable,” Barksdale concludes.
Barksdale is an assistant professor of history at Marshall University who specializes in Appalachian regional history and West Virginia history. A native of Greenville, S.C., Barksdale received his Ph.D. from WVU. Most of his scholarship focuses on the Appalachian frontier and he has published articles on the Whiskey Rebellion in northwestern Virginia and a forthcoming article on the Spanish Conspiracy in eastern Tennessee. Currently, he is completing a manuscript on the post-revolutionary Franklin statehood movement entitled “The State of Franklin: Partisanship, Power, and the Post-revolutionary Contest for the Tennessee Valley” which is slated for publication in the fall of 2008 by the University Press of Kentucky.
The Tuesday, Feb. 12, program entitled “Civil War Generals Take to the Football Gridiron” features Dr. Peter S. Carmichael who will offer football as a popular metaphor for war. Marching into enemy territory, breaking the defense, and sweeping around the flank are just a few phrases that are drawn from military terminology.
Carmichael will take the analogy of football and war in a new direction by creating an all-star football team of Civil War officers. “Imagining the positions that either a Robert E. Lee or Ulysses S. Grant might play offers new ways of thinking about leadership during America’s bloodiest conflict,” he says. Carmichael will offer his lineup for an all-star team of Union and Confederate generals as a way to better understand why military professionals either enjoyed glory or suffered defeat on the battlefield.
Carmichael received his Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University (PSU) and is a professor of history at WVU specializing in Civil War studies. He also has taught at PSU, Virginia Commonwealth University, Western Carolina University and University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His recent book The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion is one of the few scholarly studies that follow the trajectory of a Southern generation across the divide of the Civil War in order to better understand how southern identity was constructed and reshaped in response to changing political and economic circumstances. Carmichael’s current book project, Black Rebels, will explore the experience of slaves who served Confederate soldiers.
A reception, sponsored by the West Virginia Humanities Council, will follow Carmichael’s lecture.
For more information about the Abraham Lincoln and West Virginia Statehood talk, the Civil War lecture, or the new Collegiate Series, contact Jacqueline Proctor, deputy commissioner for the Division, at (304) 558-0220.
The Collegiate Series will continue on Monday, Feb. 25, when WVU Professor Joseph Lupo will discuss art and printmaking and on Tuesday, Feb. 26, with a concert by Marshall University’s Bluetrane Jazz Ensemble.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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