DURHAM – Historian Earl Ijames, N.C. Museum of History, will explore “Emancipation Proclamation: An Exploration” and what it really meant for the enslaved, free persons of color, and the rest of the America on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 23-24, at Bennett Place State Historic Site. The commemoration of 150 years since the issuing of the controversial Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln will examine the period from January 1863 until the war’s end and beyond.
Director Rebecca Ryan of the Historic Burwell School in Hillsborough on Saturday will present, “Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, from Slavery to the White House,” the history one of its most significant residents, Elizabeth Keckley. Keckley became the seamstress to Mary Todd Lincoln, and was recently depicted in the Oscar nominated film, Lincoln. Costumed interpreters also will share “Seeking Freedom: Emancipation Stories from Newton to New Bern” by the fireside in the Bennett kitchen house.
For the first time, on Sunday the site offers visitors a unique guided tour back in time through the forests of the Bennett Farm on to the “Trail to Freedom.” Experience the personal perspectives of Union and Confederate soldiers, runaway slaves, and Southern farmers as they share their thoughts on this new declaration by President Lincoln. The outdoor living history walking tour has five stops. It is FREE and offered from 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m., but you must reserve your tour time upon arrival at the Bennett Place visitor center. The “Emancipation Proclamation: An Exploration” program will be repeated on Sunday.
In April 1865, the Bennett Farm was the site of the largest surrender of the American Civil War. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston and Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman met at the farmhouse of James and Nancy Bennett to negotiate peace terms, which would help end America’s most tragic war. The negotiations ended fighting in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, surrendering 89,270 Confederate soldiers. The mission of Bennett Place is to preserve and interpret the history of the largest surrender of the American Civil War and the lives of yeomen farmers such as the Bennetts.
Bennett Place is located in west Durham and can be reached from Raleigh by taking I-40 West to the Durham Freeway (Hwy 147), exiting on to Hillsborough Road, then following the brown historic site signs on to Bennett Memorial Road, or from Greensboro take I-85 East and continue to Exit 170 on to Hillsborough Road, following the brown historic site signs on to Bennett Memorial Road.
For further information contact Bennett Place State Historic Site by phone at (919) 383-4345, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Bennett Place online. Click here for more events related to the Emancipation Proclamation and here for more information on Cultural Resources’s Civil War 150 celebrations.
Administered by the N.C. Division of State Historic Sites, Bennett Place State Historic Site is part of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.