The Journal
The Latest from the History Center
Newsletter April 29th -May 3rd
May 03, 2019

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The students of ClearWater Academy in Peachtree City, Georgia met Abraham Lincoln during a Live Webcast this week. This was their second Webcast with the History Center! Lincoln took questions about his experiences as President during the Civil War and found that the students were quite knowledgeable of his life.

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Students of ClearWater with their prepared questions for Mr. Lincoln

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What students see during our Lincoln Webcast

Something we often hear from students during this Webcast is the idea that "Lincoln freed the slaves." To comment on this, here's our Director of Education Ken Johnston:

When Libba and I webcast me portraying President Abraham to schools I start the program by asking the students to tell me what they know – or think they know – about Lincoln. Almost invariably one of the comments will be “You freed the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation”, which I reply to with “Well, some!” – and then we’re neatly onto what exactly Lincoln did with the Emancipation Proclamation and why the 13th Amendment, which actually abolished slavery, was needed. The Proclamation was issued by Lincoln as a war-time measure, under his powers as Commander in Chief of the US military. Wanting to strike a blow personally against slavery as a moral wrong was something Lincoln felt he had no legal power to do – the power of government should not be used for a personal agenda. However, as the 4 million enslaved people in the states in rebellion were helping the war effort of those states, Lincoln knew he was legally within the bounds of his Constitutional war powers to declare the enslaved people of those states in rebellion (not Union ones) free to strike at their war effort. Even if practically most of the slaves derived no immediate benefit of the Proclamation, it encouraged tens of thousands to abscond from their owners, legally freed those who’d already crossed to Union lines – and helped keep foreign nations from recognizing the Confederacy. And precisely because the Proclamation was just a war time measure, Lincoln pushed for Congress to pass the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution – abolishing slavery in all states – which they did on January 31, 1861, with the states ratifying on December 6. What’s gratifying about drawing this information out this way from the student’s comment is that they follow a train of thought that they began – and which takes them to a better understanding of the past.

- Director of Education Ken Johnston

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Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lieutenant William Clark met students of Burch Elementary in Tyrone, Georgia for their first Webcast to regale them with stories of their adventures to the West. Expanding diplomacy with Native tribes, mapping the land, noting specimens, and the hazards of living in the wilderness (like giant grizzly bears!) were just a few of the topics students learned about.

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Lewis and Clark spoke very highly of Sacagawea who proved to be an indispensable resource for their conversations with other tribes and navigating the land. What many students are surprised to learn is that Sacagawea was not their official guide. She was accompanying her husband, a Frenchman, who was hired to help Lewis and Clark translate Native languages. Having Sacagawea with them was valuable for many reasons. Firstly, having a woman present offered a way to symbolize that Lewis and Clark’s team of men were coming to other tribes in peace. Secondly, she was able to speak other Native languages, translate them into French for her husband, and then her husband would translate them to English for Lewis and Clark. Lastly, she was familiar with parts of the land as she had grown up in another tribe further West.

This program has proven to be a very popular one as it combines adventure, nature, Native American culture, and the excitement of discovery in one program. After the program ended, the students' teacher emailed us to say:

"I cannot wait to tell my grade level colleagues and other co-workers what an amazing experience we had! Please extend many thanks to Louis and Clark :) aka presenters. They were extremely informative and engaging. Kids enjoyed interacting with them and said they learned a lot. It was cool seeing all the artifacts and 'traveling back in time' with them in a sense.

Also, thank you and Ken for being so responsive and easy to work with. I usually encounter technical difficulties with anything new I try, but this was smooth sailing. Nothing but praise and positive comments!

Thank you again. I’ll definitely be in touch for more."

To see a brief clip from this Webcast, click here!

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We will dearly miss one of our long-time volunteers, Francis Turner, who passed away Saturday, April 27th. Francis was a veteran of WWII serving from 1942-1946 and volunteered for our Veteran's Visits program in which veterans met with students of Hall County.

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A Celebration of Life service will take place at 2:00 PM on May 11, at Flowery Branch United Methodist Church. Light refreshments will be served afterward. The family has requested no flowers, but instead, they will have a donation box for the Disabled American Veterans. To donate online, visit:

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This week From the Archives is a panorama photo of the Baptist Young People's Union convention that was held in Gainesville, Georgia in 1920. This event drew quite a crowd! About 800 people attended the event. The Gainesville News wrote about the convention saying, "The Georgia B. Y. P. U. convention is one of the greatest inspirational meetings held in the South. It is eagerly sought for each year and was awarded to Gainesville only after a very warm contest. Augusta and Savannah and other places invited the convention and vigorously pressed their claims. Gainesville won out over all others, so the Convention is ours this year."

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After the event, the newspaper said, "All incoming trains were laden with delegates yesterday afternoon, and this morning late comers were still arriving...The people of the city had made provision for entertainment of all who came, and be it said to the credit of the hospitable citizens of Gainesville, not withstanding this is the largest convention which ever met here where free entertainment was provided, there was a home for every one."

The Baptist Young Peoples Union (BYPU) was an organization designed to foster Christian growth and loyalty in youth. It was first organized in 1891 and appears to have remained active through the 1940s.

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Forum: The War Outside My Window
Tuesday, May 14th 7-8PM
$3 General Admission or Free for Members
Writer and Historian Janet Elizabeth Croon speaks on the Civil War journals of young Macon resident Leroy Wiley Gresham, who suffered a debilitating accident before the war, and whose chronicling of his own slow death was in tandem with the rise and demise of the Confederacy.

Saturday Family Day: The End of the 1830s -- Frontier No More
Saturday, May 18th 12PM-4PM
As the 1830’s draw to a close the sad chapter of Federal Indian Removal ends in North Georgia and the Southeast at large, with the Cherokee Trail of Tears and military actions against the Creek and Seminole - what white settlers called the Frontier has become their homesteads. This special Saturday Family Day explores the 1830s with Living History demonstrations and activities as well as arts and crafts by the Quinlan Art center.
Free and open to the public! Presented as part of the Ada Mae Ivester Education Center.

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For more fascinating photos and information on our region's past, follow our social media!




The Parks Bros, a general store that served Gainesville in the early 1900s

The Northeast Georgia History Center at Brenau University - 322 Academy St NE Gainesville, GA 30501 - 770.297.5900 -