(3) The Civil War & Reconstruction Subjects

Completing, Remembering, and Forgetting the Civil War

by Fred Nielsen

The work of peace was, in its way, as difficult as the fighting of the Civil War. After Appomattox, divisive questions remained: What was the place of freed slaves? What was the federal government’s responsibility to them? How would former Confederate states be readmitted to the Union? In the end, Americans put their country back together by often forgetting why they had fought in the first place. How they reconstructed a broken nation in the 19th century still shapes the United States in the 21st.

Fight Against Slavery on the Great Plains: Nebraska's Underground Railroad

by Bill Hayes

Hayes discusses the issue of slavery in the U.S. during the 1850s and the controversy surrounding the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and how the issue affected people moving to the Nebraska Territory.  The presentation describes the overall history of the Underground Railroad and how the movement became connected with the Great Plains.  Hayes explores how the Underground Railroad formed in Nebraska and emphasizes specific sites where escaping slave most likely found refuge on their journey north to freedom.

Music of the Civil War

by David Marsh

Multi-instrumentalist Marsh brings the Civil War to life with songs and stories. Children and adults alike will enjoy, learn, and sing along to songs from both sides of this epic American conflict and hear the origins of patriotic songs like “Dear Old Dixie” and .the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

President U.S. Grant

by Thomas N. King

Step back to the Gilded Age and listen to the stories and personal history from one of America’s most popular and yet misunderstood Presidents. This Chautauqua-style portrayal takes President Ulysses S. Grant from personal mediocrity to his promotion to the highest-ranking general in the Union Army to his election as the eighteenth President of the United States. Complete with period costume, the presentation allows audiences to relive the two controversial presidential terms through the eyes of Ulysses S. Grant.

General U.S. Grant

by Thomas N. King

Step back to the Civil War era and listen to tales and personal history from one of America’s most famous generals. This Chautauqua-style portrayal takes Ulysses S. Grant from personal mediocrity to his promotion to the highest-ranking general in the Union Army. Complete with period costume, the presentation allows audiences to relive the war years through the eyes of General Grant.

From Bleeding Kansas to Old Virginny: Songs and Stories of the Civil War

by Dan Holtz

For four years, the Civil War raged on such storied battlefields as Gettysburg and Antietam in the East to lesser-known places like La Glorieta Pass in New Mexico. With guitar and harmonica accompaniment, Holtz performs songs that express the war’s wide variety of sentiments, issues and stories. The program includes some of the popular patriotic and sentimental parlor songs. Thus, the war is chronicled and tied to memorable excerpts from some of the great conflict’s novels, poems and short stories. Holtz can also present the program as living history by portraying fictional Nebraska Territory settler Matthias Parker telling stories and anecdotes as though gleaned from newspapers of the day or from returning veterans. As Parker, Holtz comments on and quotes such personalities as Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee and John Brown.

The Great Body of the Republic: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Plains

by Kenneth Winkle

Abraham Lincoln considered the Great Plains important for America’s future. As president, however, Lincoln subordinated the interest of the Great Plains and the people who lived there because of his efforts to win the Civil War.  Professor Winkle investigates how Lincoln’s wartime policies changed the history of the Great Plains forever and left an indelible impression on the lives and culture of the people who live here today.

Nebraska and the Civil War

by David Wells

Few people realize that Nebraska was involved in one of the most tragic events in our history, the Civil War, from 1861-1865. The territory sent 1/3 of its male population to the war, and more than 200 died or were killed. After the war, thousands of veterans came to Nebraska. By 1890 more than 100,000 veterans lived here, and they played a major role in the development of Nebraska from a territory to statehood. They helped found many of the cities. This presentation looks at these early settlers and the role they played—geographically specific to the program site.

Memorial Day: Its Origins, Its Heritage, Its Legacy

by David Wells

This program traces the development of the Memorial Day holiday, beginning with its significance in the wake of the Civil War. Using slides of holiday mementos and photographs of Memorial Day parades and ceremonies, the presentation shows how the Grand Army of the Republic rallied support for the holiday. The presentation contrasts the relative insignificance of the holiday today with the mania and reverence of earlier years, seeking to understand why these changes occurred.

A Civil War Irish Soldier’s Journey to Nebraska

by Charles E. Real

Real follows the very different paths of two brothers fleeing An Gorta Mor (Gaelic for the great hunger) only to face each other on opposite sides of the American Civil War. While one brother does not survive Shiloh’s killing fields, the other becomes an officer and later successful settler and businessman in Nebraska. The program is a commemoration of survival, war, and pioneering and reveals how this ex-soldier becomes financial backer to several North Dakota and Minnesota towns and his relationship to the Great Lakes ore ship Edmund Fitzgerald.

Nebraska Frontier Physician: Robert Ramsay Livingston, M.D

by John Schleicher

Schleicher shares the story of Dr. Robert Ramsay Livingston of Plattsmouth, one of the outstanding pioneer figures in Nebraska medicine.  Livingston began practicing medicine in Plattsmouth in 1859, captained the First Nebraska Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, helped organize the Nebraska State Medical Society and was one of the first delegates from Nebraska to the American Medical Association.  Among varied accomplishments, he served as Chief Surgeon of the Burlington Railroad in Nebraska, Mayor of Plattsmouth, and President of the Faculty of the Omaha Medical College. Schleicher can present the program as living history by portraying Dr. Livingston in period attire or as a lecture presentation.

Abraham Lincoln, America’s Greatest Political Orator

by Fred Nielsen

Public speaking was an essential part of Abraham Lincoln’s political career. His debates with Stephen Douglas made him a national figure. His speeches as president — especially the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address — helped shape Americans’ understanding of their country and chart a path toward reconciliation after the Civil War. Whether using humor, lawyer-like reason, or a Biblically-inspired prose that could verge on poetry, he was the nation’s most eloquent president.

Lincoln Lore and Legend

by Spencer Davis

Abraham Lincoln rarely discussed his personal feelings or details of his early life; but in this presentation Spencer Davis sheds some light on Lincoln’s political controversies, as well as rail-splitting legends, the Ann Rutledge affair and other personal issues. A realistic perspective makes Lincoln’s achievements even more remarkable.

African-American Soldiers in the Civil War: Fighting on Two Fronts

by Spencer Davis

This program presents the story of African-American soldiers in battle and their struggle for equal treatment in the Union army. Black troops in uniform were often transformed by the experience. The presentation describes how black troops faced discrimination within the Union Army as well as Confederate attacks. A growing number of these soldiers’ letters and articles have been discovered, and they form the basis for this presentation.

Abraham Lincoln: The Personal Side

by Spencer Davis

Lincoln’s greatness as president resulted from a life of continual progress and transformation. The obstacles Lincoln faced and the characteristics he expressed are the subject of this presentation.