On Thursday, Feb. 12, West Chester University held Lincoln’s Bicentennial Bash celebrating his birthday and 200 years of history. The events were kicked off at 1 p.m. in the Special Collections Room of Francis Harvey Green Library. The event included West Chester Universities History Departments Dr. La Tonya Thames-Taylor, and Dr. Chris Stangl from the University’s Political Science Department. Two of the main events included performances of Civil War Era music by Dr. Charles Hardy, and a re-enactment of the Lincoln-Douglass Debates, put on by West Chester University Honor Students.
Dr. La Tonya Thames-Taylor described in great detail her topic: the “Clash of Titans, An Informal Debate on Equity between Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.” She explained how these men, (Lincoln, Douglass and Jon Brown, a man who is often dismissed all believed in a higher power and tried to abolish slavery), argued for their beliefs. Douglass was an abolitionist and wanted slavery to end at any cost, while Lincoln was an anti-slavery activist who looked to the law, while yet Brown was a radical abolitionist who was motivated on bloodshed violence to end slavery.
At 1:30 p.m. Dr. Charles Hardy, a Professor of History, and his band entertained the audience with Civil War Era Music including the songs “Hard Times”, “The Boatman’s Dance on the Ohio River”, and “Dixie” three of Lincoln’s favorite songs. Hardy introduced each new song with background information, explaining that Lincoln’s mother would sing him these songs as a young boy.
Dr. Chris Stangl took the floor at 2 p.m. involving the audience in his Speech about “Lincoln and Habeas Corpus: How to Violate the Constitution the Right Way.” Stangl said that “Lincoln did not go above the Constitution, he went beyond it.” Attending the Bicentennial Bash was one of Dr. Stangl’s classes which created great audience interaction with questions and comments on both ends.
Finishing off the first part of Lincoln’s Bicentennial Bash was a re-enactment of the Lincoln-Douglass Debates performed by Honor Students of West Chester University. The debates were over slavery and existing situations at that time. Lincoln won the popular vote while voicing his opinion wearing a very tall top hat, but Douglass still had support from the Senate and the audience, simply by being able to make them laugh.
More events will be held on Monday, February 16th, Presidents Day, in the Francis Harvey Green Library starting at 1 p.m. Speakers include Dr. Thomas Legg and Dr. William Hewitt, both from the History Department here at West Chester University. There will be a musical performance by Dick Swain, the Library Director, and a movie about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln called “The Hunt for John Wilkes Booth” will be shown at 7 p.m.
Caitlyn McNamee is a fourth-year student majoring in Professional Studies and minoring in Journalism. She can be reached at CM645986@wcupa.edu.