Governor Matt Blunt has signed an executive order establishing the Missouri Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. The ten-member Commission will coordinate federal, state, and local events honoring Lincoln’s 2009 bicentennial in Missouri. One of the panel members is Gary Kremer, Executive Director of The Historical Society of Missouri. He says that while Lincoln didn’t spend much time here, his legacy is seen in the number of schools and institutions that came into being following the Civil War. One of those institutions is Lincoln Institute, which later became Linclon University, in Jefferson City. It was established in 1866 as a historically Black college. Kremer says the main thrust of the celebration will focus on Lincoln and his actions and how those actions have brought us to where we are in the 21st Century. One of those actions, he contends, is the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in territories in rebellion against the United States. Missouri was not a part of the Confederacy, so slaves in this state were not covered by the order. But Kremer says the Emancipation Proclamation emboldened many slaves in this state who struck out on their own. Some even joined the Union Army.
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