Lincoln Conference at RIT Seeks to Draw Public and Scholars Alike, April 1-2

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History buffs, professional scholars and families alike will all find something fascinating, as well as educational, at a conference on Abraham Lincoln at Rochester Institute of Technology, April 1 and 2.

Unlike most academic conferences, The Statesmanship of Lincoln, is designed to have public appeal. In addition to accessible and relevant talks about the 16th president, the free event will include a number of family-related activities from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 2, featuring fife-and-drum music, displays of Lincoln and Civil War era artifacts, a display of Lincoln art by Wendy Allen, a re-enactment of “The Gettysburg Address” and a performance of Aaron Copeland’s A Lincoln Portrait conducted by Jonathan Kruger, RIT assistant professor of music, and performed by the RIT Concert Band and Jazz Ensemble. All events will be held in the Webb Auditorium of the James E. Booth Building.

The talks and presentations will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 1, with an introduction by RIT professor Joseph Fornieri, “Lincoln’s Statesmanship and Technology,” followed by “Picturing Freedom: Emancipation in the Graphic Arts,” a slide show by Harold Holzer, author and Metropolitan Museum of Art Vice President for Communications and Marketing, and “The Emancipation Moment,” by keynote speaker Allen Guelzo, professor of Civil War era at Gettysburg College and winner of this year’s Lincoln Prize, the most prestigious award in Lincoln and Civil War scholarship.

The Saturday sessions will include, among other luminaries, Ken Deutsch, professor of history at State University of New York at Geneseo, with “Lincoln’s Leadership and the Politics of Humility,” and Frank Williams, Chief Justice of Rhode Island Supreme Court and president of the Lincoln Forum, with “The Lincoln Theme at 200 Years 1809-2009: Exhausted or Reinvigorated?”

“It can be argued that the Civil War is the central event that defined our nation and that Lincoln is the pivotal figure of American history,” Fornieri says. “Lincoln’s grand statesmanship in preserving the Union and ending slavery is highly relevant to the challenges facing America in the 21st century. Our contemporary efforts to balance liberty and security, to clarify the scope of executive power, to build democracy abroad, to define the proper role of religion in public life and to confront the issues of race and equality would be well served by pondering Lincoln’s example during the Civil War.”

Fornieri, the host of the event, is the author of Abraham Lincoln’s Political Faith and The Language of Liberty: The Political Speeches and Writings of Abraham Lincoln. He and Deutsch also co-authored and edited Lincoln’s American Dream: Clashing Political Perspectives, due out in August from Potomac Press.

For more information, contact Cassandra Shellman at 475-2057, or visit