Symposium at Tusculum College to explore Andrew Johnson’s impact on his era, the presidency and the Constitution
Leading national authorities on Andrew Johnson, the Reconstruction period and the Constitution are among those who will take part in a symposium in September at Tusculum College exploring the 17th president’s impact on his era, the presidency and the Constitution.
The Museums of Tusculum College are hosting the “Andrew Johnson: Heritage, Legacy, and Our Constitution” symposium on Thursday, Sept. 18, as part of the local celebration of the bicentennial of Johnson’s birth. The event will begin at 9 a.m. in the Chalmers Conference Center, include individual sessions by each of the experts, and conclude with a panel discussion with all of the presenters. The program is being underwritten by the Tennessee Civil War Heritage Area, the Patterson-Bartlett Corporation, and the Andrew Johnson Bicentennial Committee.
The individual sessions will help increase the understanding of Johnson, a complex man who rose from his humble beginnings as a tailor’s apprentice to serve in the highest political office in the country.
Johnson and the Reconstruction will be the topic of a session by Dr. Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton professor of history at Columbia University. Dr. Foner is one of this country’s most prominent historians and is considered the leading contemporary historian of the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. He has written extensively on political history, the history of freedom, early history of the Republican Party, African American biography, Reconstruction, and historiography.
Among the books Dr. Foner has authored are Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction and the award-winning Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. He was also co-curator of the award-winning exhibit, “America’s Reconstruction: People and Politics After the Civil War,” which opened at the Virginia Historical Society in 1995 and traveled to several other locations.
The Civil War period of Johnson’s life will be examined in a session by Dr. Paul Bergeron, professor of history emeritus at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and was recently named a Brown Foundation Fellow and a visiting professor of history at the University of the South. Dr. Bergeron was the editor of the Papers of Andrew Johnson, a comprehensive collection of 16 volumes of material that includes correspondence, congressional records, bills, diaries, journal articles, and newspapers covering the period of 1858 through 1875. Major publications include Paths of the Past: Anti-bellum Politics in Tennessee, Presidency of James K. Polk, and Tennesseans and Their History.
Johnson’s early years will be the focus of a session by Dr. Robert Orr, a faculty member of Walters State Community College and Washington College Academy. Dr. Orr is a local authority on Johnson and has authored a book about the 17th president. The local historian was featured in a discussion of Johnson as part of the “American Presidents” series broadcast by the C-SPAN cable network.
The Constitution will be the focus of the session by Dr. Michael Kent Curtis, professor of law at Wake Forest University - School of Law. Dr. Curtis will examine the effect of Constitutional amendments in the past and today’s world.
Dr. Curtis is one of the foremost constitutional historians in the nation. He is the author of the award-winning Free Speech: The People’s Darling Privilege: Struggles for Freedom of Expression in American History, and the acclaimed No State Shall Abridge: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Bill of Rights. Dr. Curtis has also received the Frank Porter Graham Award from the North Carolina Civil Liberties Union for achievement in defending and advancing civil liberties in that state.
The symposium will conclude with a panel discussion involving all four of the noted authorities, which will be moderated by Oliver “Buzz” Thomas, executive director of the Niswonger Foundation.
Registration is required for attendance to the symposium, and there is a $10 registration fee. Deadline for registration is Sept. 5. Registration forms are included in the brochure for the symposium, which is posted on the Web site of the President Andrew Johnson Museum and Library at http://ajmuseum.tusculum.edu. For additional information, contact the Museums of Tusculum at (423) 636-7348 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Doak House Museum and the President Andrew Johnson Museum and Library are administered by the Tusculum College Department of Museum Program and Studies under the direction of George Collins, director of Museum Program and Studies, and Cindy Lucas, associate director of the department and director of the Doak House Museum. The department also offers one of the few undergraduate degree programs in museum studies in the country.
The Doak House Museum, which was the home of the Rev. Samuel Witherspoon Doak, co-founder of the college, hosted over 10,000 school children from East Tennessee last year for a variety of educational programs related to the 19th century and CHARACTER COUNTS! The Andrew Johnson Museum, located in the oldest academic building on campus, houses a collection of books, papers, and memorabilia of the 17th president of the United States. The museum also houses the Charles Coffin Collection from the original college library and the College archives containing documents related to the history of Tusculum. The museums are also two of the 10 structures on the Tusculum campus on the National Register of Historic Places.