The fifth Wepner Symposium on the Lincoln Legacy and Contemporary Scholarship at the University of Illinois Springfield will advance the concept of Counter-Emancipation following President Abraham Lincoln’s death, and its connections to racial inequality in the United States today.
The symposium will be held June 25-27, 2015 at UIS and the Old State Capitol in downtown Springfield. All events are free and open to the public.
According to Matthew Holden, Jr., the Wepner Distinguished Professor in Political Science at UIS, following Lincoln’s death supporters faced many political setbacks in advancing Emancipation policies.
“President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclaim intended that the freed people would be ‘forever free.’ Counter-Emancipation is the purposeful effort, over time, to undercut the idea of Emancipation and restore the world to as near possible before Emancipation,” said Holden. “Lincoln supporters struggled after his death and failed to gain common acceptance for the 13th. 14th, and 15th amendments.”
In a presentation on Thursday, June 25 at 6 p.m. in UIS Brookens Auditorium Holden will argue by World War I race relations in the United States were worse than at any time in the previous 50 years. The Thursday night session will also receive a major lecture by Cornell University political scientist D. Alexander Bateman.
Day two of the Wepner Symposium begins on Friday, June 26 at the UIS Public Affairs Center. From 8:30 a.m. to Noon Lorena Sue Johnson from UIS, James W. Ingram III from San Diego State University, and Shoon Lio from UIS will present. Following lunch, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., Khalilah Brown-Dean of Quinnipiac University will present.
The final day of the symposium on Saturday, June 27 will take place at the Old State Capitol in downtown Springfield where Lincoln delivered the “House Divided” speech and accepted the Republican senatorial nomination in 1858.
The extent of economic and social division in the country today will be considered in a roundtable discussion on “Degrees of Freedom/Degrees of Inequality” from 9 to 10:45 a.m. Following the roundtable, the intellectual and psychological division will be considered in a presentation by Holden, which will examine four historians and journalists’ writing on Lincoln’s attitudes to African Americans and what Africans have thought of Lincoln even today.
The symposium seeks to bridge the gap between K-12 and university education, as well as bring together scholars from around the country with diverse intellectual backgrounds, from political science to history, law, economics and other disciplines.