Brief Introduction and Hours: The Dr. Russell P. Heuer Room is the Heritage Center’s exhibition space. It is home to the exhibit, Love of Country Leads, and temporary exhibits, such as Philadelphia 1863: Turning the Tide, which is on display through February 15, 2014. The Heritage Center features yearly exhibits focusing on the Civil War and the Union League of Philadelphia. The exhibits are open to the public Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 3pm to 6pm, and the second Saturday of every month from 1pm to 4pm.
Love of Country Leads: This exhibit gives the visitor an overview of the League’s 150-year history and was designed to showcase some of the League’s historical collections. Foremost among these is a rare copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed with Abraham Lincoln’s full signature. It is one of an edition of about 48 (some 26 are extant) that League members arranged to have printed and sold at the Great Central Fair in Philadelphia in June of 1864. The fair raised more than a million dollars for sick and wounded Union soldiers. Love of Country Leads will remain on display in The Dr. Russell P. Heuer Room indefinitely.
Philadelphia 1863: Turning the Tide: The year 1863 was the mid-point of the Civil War, and it’s most important year. On January 1, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, changing the future focus of the war and that of American history as well. In Philadelphia, the newly organized Union League was establishing itself as the foremost patriotic society in the country. It quickly attracted hundreds of members, reaching one thousand by the end of the year. It established numerous operating committees, including a Military Committee that would raise 20,000 soldiers and a Board of Publication that would print over 2 million pro-Union pamphlets by the end of the war. In June, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton issued an order officially allowing the recruitment of African-Americans as soldiers by establishing the United States Colored Troops, thus fulfilling the promise of emancipation. The Battle of Gettysburg, July 1- 3, would prove, at last, the fighting ability of the Union army and dispel the myth of the invincibility of the Confederate army and General Robert E. Lee. Abraham Lincoln would close the year with his thoughtful and poignant Gettysburg Address. Delivered at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery on November 19, Lincoln used the opportunity to redefine the purpose of the war. This exhibit will focus on these specific events of 1863 and how they formed the course of the war and American history.
Philadelphia 1864: The Year of Decision: This exhibit will focus on the major activities of the year 1864. Militarily, the exhibit will cover the appointment of U. S. Grant to Lieutenant General and the overall command of the Union armies, and his attempts to destroy the Confederate army and its spirit to fight. Grant’s Overland Campaign will be covered, with reference to the participation of the United States Colored Troops and their bravery at the Battle of New Market Heights as depicted in the new League painting Three Medals of Honor now hanging in the Broad Street hallway. Next will be General William T. Sherman’s march through Georgia which ended that year with the capture of Savannah. Politically, the presidential election of 1864 will illustrate how Abraham Lincoln expected to be defeated by the Democratic candidate, General George B. McClellan, who was twice relieved from command of the Union army by Lincoln. Surprisingly, the soldier’s vote swung the election to President Lincoln. On the home front in Philadelphia, the exhibit will focus on the US Sanitary Commission’s Great Central Fair, the success of which was due primarily to the League members who organized the greatest wartime event in the city. The fair raised over one million dollars, making it the second most successful fair in the Union. The exhibit will also draw attention to the growing activities of the League, notably the erection of the Broad Street building.
Philadelphia 1861: A Coming Storm
“It is indeed a threatening state of affairs…What prospect is there of filling up these rents and gaps, of subduing these animosities, of restoring peace? I can see more.”
-Sidney George Fisher, 1861
A storm was coming. No one knew where or when it would strike, and no one could have predicted how devastating it would be. The tensions leading up to the outbreak of the Civil War were acted out in the newspapers, at the social clubs and churches, and on the streets of Philadelphia. The Coming Storm tells the story of the Philadelphia homefront with political memorabilia, newspaper headlines and cartoons, portraits, books, the Hat that Lincoln wore while in disguise, and the first-person accounts of city residents. During the critical first months of 1861, the city engaged in the national debate, hosted a president-elect and responded to the call of War! War!! War!!!
Philadelphia 1862: A City at War Exhibit: By 1862, the Civil War had touched the lives of every Philadelphian. Thousands of men streamed through the city on their way to fight. And waves of them returned, wounded and sick, from the battlefields and camps. A City at War focuses on the home front, as Philadelphia’s citizens responded to the war with their money and their time. They cooked. They sewed. They raised funds to support the troops. They nursed the sick and wounded. Public figures continued to debate and disagree. Was the war justified? Was it well fought? Philadelphia was now, in all ways, a city at war. The exhibit includes objects rarely seen by the public, not only from the Union League’s collection but also from collections of partner organizations in Philadelphia and beyond, including the Thomas Jefferson University Archives, the First Regiment Infantry, the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia, the York W. Bailey Museum at St. Helena Island, SC.
Exhibit Videos: The videos shown in our exhibits are available online. Click [HERE] to visit our video gallery. [Make sure the video gallery includes a link to the exhibits section]
Explore more about the Heritage Center
Dr. Russell P. Heuer Room
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Abraham Lincoln Foundation