Closed for Easter on Sunday, April 9
California and the West in the Civil War
Ever wonder how California and the western United States fit into the story of the Civil War? Find out on Tuesday, May 2 as the Lincoln Memorial Shrine presents West of Slavery: The Southern Dream of a Transcontinental Empire at 7pm in the Assembly Room of A.K. Smiley Public Library and on Zoom (passcode 666609). Presented by Kevin Waite, the program will demonstrate that contrary to popular belief, the struggle over slavery played out on a transcontinental stage.
Based on Waite’s book, West of Slavery reveals how Southern slaveholders infiltrated the American West in the antebellum period and triggered a series of conflicts that culminated in the Civil War. From slave codes passed in Utah and New Mexico, separatist movements sponsored in Southern California and Arizona, an orchestrated territorial purchase from Mexico, and even the murder of antislavery rivals, their efforts transformed California and the Far Southwest into a political appendage of the plantation states.
Kevin Waite is an associate professor of history at Durham University and the author of West of Slavery: The Southern Dream of a Transcontinental Empire (UNC, 2021). West of Slavery has accolades from organizations across the country and was named one of the “11 books that shaped how we think about California,” by Boom: A Journal of California and one of the “Five Best Books” ever written on the Civil War in the Far West by the Civil War Monitor.
This program is free and open to the public. Use passcode 666609 when watching on Zoom. A.K. Smiley Public Library is located at 125 W. Vine Street in Redlands. For more information, contact the Heritage Room at (909)798-7632.
Annual Lincoln Season
Since 1972, the Lincoln Shrine has honored Lincoln and the Civil War with an annual Open House. Featuring Civil War re-enactors, live music, activities, and much more, the Open House is an event not to be missed! Take a look back at photographs and videos from the Lincoln Shrine Open House in years past. Relive old memories or see what you can expect here.
Starting in 1932, the annual Watchorn Lincoln Dinner has celebrated the anniversary of Lincoln’s birth each year. The largest event of its kind in the United States today, the Lincoln Dinner has featured presentations from dozens of scholars whose work has honored Lincoln’s legacy. In recent years, the event has also included sponsorship opportunities that have raised thousands of dollars for the institution and allowed for the purchase of exceptional items for the Shrine’s collections. Explore the items acquired through the Lincoln Dinner Sponsorship Fund here.
On February 12, 2022, the Shrine’s 90th anniversary was feted with a unique Lincoln Dinner. Nearly 200 revelers celebrated the momentous occasion with live music and the premier of “Enduring Legacies: The Lincoln Shrine at 90,” a special documentary produced for the event. The evening concluded with spectacular fireworks presentation! The Lincoln Memorial Shrine thanks the evening’s underwriters Watchorn Lincoln Memorial Association Trustees Bill Hatfield and Dr. Christopher Walker.
If you missed the 90th Lincoln Dinner, or would like to watch the documentary again, visit the Special Collections YouTube Channel.
Lincoln Shrine’s New Cannon
On Saturday, August 14, 2021, the Lincoln Memorial Shine dedicated its new cannon in Smiley Park! Thanks to the generosity of the Nies family of Redlands, the Lincoln Shrine now stewards a reproduction Model 1857 Napoleon 12-pounder field gun dated 1864.
The dedication ceremony included the participation of Civil War reenactors and featured an artillery demonstration by the 1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery who instructed donor Dr. Boyd Nies as he fired the inaugural shot.
Come and see the cannon in person. It’s the perfect selfie location! Make sure to tag #lincolnshine and use the hashtag #lincolnshrine to share your photos.
Learn more about the M1857 Napoleon 12-Pounder here.
Juneteenth Becomes a Federal Holiday
From its very founding, the United States had a precarious relationship with freedom. While the Declaration of Independence clearly stated that “all men are created equal”, the actual practice of enslaving people tested whether, in practice, that ideal could ever be a reality. Enslavement was the single most divisive issue of the early republic. When Southern states perceived that Abraham Lincoln’s election threatened what they believed was their “right” to enslave others, those states attempted to break the bonds of the United States to each other. The result was civil war, with some 800,000 or more Americans perishing.
President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, declaring that all enslaved people located within states in rebellion against the United States “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”
Before that, some enslaved people had already found ways to emancipate themselves, with groups like the Underground Railroad, by finding a detachment of the United States Army, or simply fleeing those who enslaved them and making it successfully to a free state. As the United States Army liberated states in rebellion, enslaved people there were freed. However, not everyone was aware of emancipation, even after the Civil War was over. In Texas, it wasn’t until US General Gordon Grainger issued General Order #3 on June 19, 1865 that:
“The people are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them, become that between employer and hired labor.”
From that day, June 19, came a jubilee celebration for the last of the enslaved people of the United States, who finally learned of their new freedom. Juneteenth, as it became known, commemorates this day.
On June 17, 2021, the importance of what Juneteenth represents was recognized by the United States with the designation of June 19, “Juneteenth”, as a federal holiday.
89th Watchorn Lincoln Dinner
Watch the 2021 Watchorn Lincoln Dinner on the Special Collections YouTube channel. The reimagined event includes past Lincoln Dinner speakers, music, and an appearance by President Lincoln!