Commission Created To Commemorate Civil War

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(Host) Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.  A special Vermont commission has been created to commemorate the state’s involvement in the War.

The panel is planning an ambitious five year effort to highlight Vermont’s participation in the war effort and to discuss how the Civil War still shapes who we are as a state, and a country.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel has more.

(Kinzel) In the fall of 1860, the United States had a critical presidential election that would help determine whether or not the country would soon engage in a civil war.

Even though Northern Democratic Party candidate Stephen Douglas was a native Vermonter, the state overwhelming supported Republican Abraham Lincoln because of Lincoln’s strong opposition to slavery.

Vermont was the first state to outlaw slavery in 1777 and it played an important role in abolition movement in the 19th century.

The Vermont Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission has been created to develop a series of projects and programs to mark the state’s involvement in the war. 

Mark Hudson is the executive director of the Vermont Historical Society and serves as chairman of the commission.

(Hudson) "We feel like the Civil War was really a seminal event in the state’s history and the nation’s history and it is one that’s deserving of commemoration not only in terms of historical reflection but also helping us to understand who were are today and how we evolved as a country."

(Kinzel) Hudson says the Commission is planning a wide variety of programs over the next five years.

(Hudson) "The Commission is really looking at coordinating a statewide effort doing things not only on a statewide level but also helping to coordinate activities in individual towns and individual sites throughout the state."

(Kinzel) Because the project spans five years, Hudson says the Commission is organizing its programs on a year by year basis.

(Hudson) "One of the ways that we want to provide some structure to this was by having annual themes unlike a single year commemoration event we have five years really that we’re looking at so we have developed some themes for each of the years and we’re actually emerging into the first year of this which is what we’re calling the year when democracy was tested."

(Kinzel) Hudson says the Commission plans to develop educational programs that can be used in schools across the state and he’s hoping that some of the Commission’s events will also draw tourists to Vermont.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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