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  • Jane Andrade
    Director of Public Affairs
  • Jon Kuhl
    Director of Public Affairs
    Washington, D.C.
August 14, 2013

Virginia’s Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission Honored at National Gathering of State Lawmakers – Hailed as Model for Other States

ATLANTA—Virginia’s Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission was honored at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) annual Legislative Summit in Atlanta today as a national model for other states looking to highlight historic events. NCSL’s Summit is the largest and only gathering of its kind where legislators and staff come together to promote bipartisan dialogue on some of the most pressing concerns facing states.

The Virginia General Assembly created the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission as a legislative commission to recognize the immense opportunities that the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War holds in terms of education, preservation, and tourism. Led by Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates William J. Howell and Senate President pro tempore emeritus Charles J. Colgan, Sr., the Commission is composed of members of the House of Delegates and Senate, historians and citizens. The sesquicentennial commemoration lasts from 2011 to 2015, and marks many of the defining moments of the Civil War, including emancipation.
“It is an honor to be recognized by the National Conference of State Legislatures for outstanding achievement in the analysis of the Civil War from multiple perspectives,” said Speaker Howell.   “No time was more defining for the nation – and for the states – than the Civil War, and at its 150th anniversary, it is fitting to examine its causes, gains, losses, and enduring legacies.” 
“Virginia played a critical role in the founding of our nation, and it became a sacred battleground during its darkest period,” said Delegate Mark Keam, who serves on the Commission. “The Sesquicentennial Commission's role is to help us understand our past and to embrace our common future together. Today's "Outstanding Achievement" award from NCSL is recognition that we have struck the right balance in presenting this important story.” 
The Commission has developed a number of multi-perspective programs, all of which have a traveling component and statewide reach intended to convey a comprehensive historical narrative.
A few of the programs sponsored by the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission include:

  • An award-winning museum exhibit, "An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia," created in partnership with the state historical society.
  • The Civil War 150 HistoryMobile, an immersive exhibit housed in an expandable tractor-trailer that travels to museums, schools, fairs, and other special events, promoting tourism throughout the state.
  • The Legacy Project, operated in conjunction with the Library of Virginia, that sends archivists throughout the state to scan and catalog family diaries, photographs and letters related to the Civil War and emancipation.
  • An annual Signature Conference series that features many of the finest scholars in the nation discussing topics ranging from causes of the Civil War to its lasting legacies.

NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.