A Just Cause: Voices of the American Civil War
Sept. 22, 2012–Jan. 7, 2013
Library, West Hall
To complement the concurrent major photographs exhibition, “A Strange and Fearful Interest: Death, Mourning and Memory in the American Civil War
,” “A Just Cause: Voices of the American Civil War” explores the war-time debate on the causes and mission of “this cruel war.” The debate that began long before the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter became increasingly fierce as the war raged on and casualties on both sides piled up.
Recruitment handbill, chromolithograph, 1863. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
Both sides believed that they were fighting a just war in defense of the sacred legacy of the Revolution, be it independence, the integrity of the Union, or the cause of human rights, all of which inevitably boiled down to the dispute over slavery. This battle for the nation’s soul is the focus of the exhibition. The title invokes the parting words that Abraham Lincoln addressed to his new general-in-chief, Ulysses S. Grant, in April 1864: “And now, with a brave army, and a just cause, may God sustain you.”
The displays present the voices of numerous Americans—Northerners
and Southerners, soldiers and civilians, black and white—who defended
their own visions of the just cause. Visitors get a rare chance to
explore these debates preserved in The Huntington’s famous Civil War
collections of prints, pamphlets, cartoons, broadsides, sheet music, and
private correspondence and diaries of soldiers, chaplains, surgeons,
nurses, charity workers, and their families.
Confederate pictorial envelope, Charleston, S.C., ca. 1861. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
Exhibition Music (played in the Library, West Hall)
Tom Glazer, Treasures of the Civil War Songs (The Smithsonian’s American Folkways)
Anne & Ridle Enslow, Music for Abraham Lincoln
The Americus Brass Band, Music of the Civil War
2nd South Carolina String Band, Southern Soldier, Hard Road, Dulcem Melodies
119th New York Volunteers, Field music, vol. 1
Oscar Bran, Election songs of the United States
Libby Prison Minstrels, Far From Home