Photo by Cara Ellen Modisett.
Some modern letters to Lincoln, on display at the Journey Through Hallowed Ground conference.
It was a little odd seeing Abraham Lincoln walk into the theater last night. Dressed in a tuxedo, he settled into a seat close to the front and toward 8:00 he opened the first portion of the evening's program, a presentation of Civil War photography to be viewed with three-dimensional glasses, many of the images first printed in the 19th century for stereoscopic viewing, some converted recently by the Center for Civil War Photography. "I guess when they said 3-D, this would do!" he started, with a joke, like any good politician – he was down-to-earth, and comfortable with the microphone. (Not sure of the reenactor's name, but will find out.)
Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust lectured on her book "This Republic of Suffering" after the photo presentation, talking about the nature and treatment of death during and after the Civil War, how it changed the psyche of the nation, how it changed our understanding of ourselves as individuals and as a nation. She talked about the notion of the Good Death, and how it hit home personally for her when her own father was dying in the hospital in Winchester, Va.
This morning I'll head over to the Majestic Theater and interview Dr. Edward Ayers at 9:15; he's president of the University of Richmond and author of "In the Presence of Mine Enemies," the story of the war told through two communities, one in the north, one in the south. I'm looking foward to reading the book, which focuses on the border states and the impact of the war on the Great Valley, and the stereotypes of progressive, wealthy North and backwards, racial South, which didn't always hold – if the battle lines were fairly clear, the social ones weren't.