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Wepner Program on the Lincoln Legacy University of Illinois Springfield

Symposium: Overview

The Wepner Symposium on the Lincoln Legacy and Contemporary Scholarship brings together the historical facts of the sixteenth president’s tenure with modern social science theories and methods.

Coinciding with the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, and coming just after the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth, the Wepner Symposia are unique projects: at once concerned with the facts of Lincoln’s historic presidency as well as the implications for American and global politics, as seen from the vantage point of modern social science. These events also take as a primary goal the dissemination of new intellectual perspective and knowledge to students of all ages, from grade schoolers to undergraduates and interested adults.

The inaugural symposium was held in October 2010, on the theme of “Presidential Options, Presidential Decision-Making, and Social Consequences,” and brought distinguished scholars from Princeton, Yale, Bowdoin College, Purdue, the University of Oregon, and many other institutions, to discuss the importance of Lincoln’s presidency in historical and social science context.

The second symposium (2011) focused on the lessons of the Civil War and “civil war” as a more general phenomenon, while the third (2012) examined the role of Lincoln’s leadership as president in the emancipation process.

The third symposium (2012) focused on the workings of the Emancipation Proclamation, what it meant, and what happened before.

The fourth symposium (2013) looked at the dichotomy between the Lincoln Presidency and the Obama Presidency.

The fifth symposium is scheduled for June 25-27th, 2015 and will include papers on the theme “Emancipation, Counter-Emancipation, and the 21st Century: Is Racial Inequality Disappearing?”

The Wepner Symposia have been held at various venues throughout Springfield, including the campus of the University of Illinois Springfield, the Hall of Representatives at the historic Old State Capitol, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Each event has attracted local media attention, public interest, and scholars from across the country, and we look forward to continuing these worthy intellectual endeavors over the coming years.

Please find more information on this year’s symposium, including the call for proposals and submission system, as well as a multimedia archive of past symposium materials. You can also e-mail for any additional information.