Mendocino County Museum’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration

In commemoration of the Sesquicentennial (150th Anniversary) of the end of the Civil War, the Mendocino County Museum will open two new exhibitions that chronicle the Civil War years from both a national and a local perspective on May 16, 2015.

Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War, a nationally-traveling exhibition on display
through June 21, examines how President Lincoln used the Constitution to confront three
intertwined crises of the Civil War—the secession of Southern states, slavery and wartime civil liberties.

Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States in 1860, at a time when the nation was on the brink of war. Lincoln struggled to resolve the basic questions that divided Americans at the most perilous moment in the nation’s history: Was the United States truly one nation, or was it a confederacy of sovereign and separate states? How could a country founded on the belief that “all men are created equal” tolerate slavery? In a national crisis, would civil liberties be secure? President Lincoln used the Constitution to confront these three crises of war, ultimately reinventing the Constitution and the promise of American life. This exhibition develops a more complete understanding of Abraham Lincoln as president and the Civil War as the nation’s gravest constitutional crisis.

The National Constitution Center and the American Library Association Public Programs Office organized the traveling exhibition, which was made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH): great ideas brought to life. The traveling exhibition is based on an exhibition of the same name developed by the National Constitution Center.

Uncivil Homefront: Mendocino County during the Civil War, curated by Rebecca Montes,
Ph.D., Professor of History at Mendocino College, focuses on the local effects of the Civil War through politics, the military experience, and the indentured servitude of Native Americans.

The Civil War shaped Mendocino County in its second decade. Though Mendocino County
seemed isolated, all of its residents were caught up in the politics of the war in one way or
another. As settlers moved into the region, they did so in a context of national turmoil. Like their fellow Californians, residents of Mendocino County took sides. Local men served in the military in California as well as in the East – for both the Union and Confederacy. Neighbor was divided against neighbor as loyalties to political parties changed.

Native people also confronted unique challenges during the war. They faced not only the influx of White settlers, but reservation and military policies that shifted because of the war. Native people, both children and adults, were subject to a brutal legal indentured system that amounted to slavery in a free state. This exhibit also features Civil War era artifacts from the collections of the Mendocino County Museum, including weapons, photographs, quilts and more.
Special Events at the Museum

Saturday, May 23, 2015

10:00 am – 4:30 pm: Open House featuring Civil War re-enactors

2:00 pm: Reception with Guest Curator, Rebecca Montes, Ph.D., Professor of History,
Mendocino College (refreshments will be served)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

3:00 pm: Discovery Talk, California Indian Histories and Memories of the Civil War

William Bauer, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, University of Nevada at Las Vegas and Round Valley Tribal Member

The Museum and its exhibits will be free to the public during the Lincoln and the Constitution exhibition, May 16-June 21, 2015

For more information contact the Mendocino County Museum at 707 459-2736 or visit

Mendocino County Museum’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration