Opening Remarks

Edward L. Ayers

The goal of today’s panels is to understand how Americans viewed their world in 1859 without the knowledge of what was to come.  From this perspective, Lincoln was a successful lawyer and Jefferson Davis still a senator.  If we do not understand the years leading to secession and war than we cannot understand four years of bloody conflict.

Governor Tim Kaine

Two crucial events in American history: Civil War forged our national identity and WWII secured the nation’s place on the world stage.  Comments on placement of Arthur Ashe, statue of Lincoln, etc.  All created controversy owing to the divisive nature of the war.  We are still wrestling with it as a commonwealth and as a country.  Not only did the war end slavery, but it enabled civil government to evolve in its responsibilities.  Mentioned that he read a biography of Andrew Jackson and learned that regional disputes have a rich history.  Hmmm…could it have been Mechum’s new biography.  Without the war and reunion the nation would not have become a player on the world stage.  Kaine is committing the state to battlefield preservation over the next few years.  We are here to learn from our past so we can come together in better understanding.

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