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Study plans Lincoln assassination lecture

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Award-winning author Gail Stephens will visit Crawfordsville at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 to discuss the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln as part of the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum’s ongoing Dr. Howard Miller Lecture Series.

Lew Wallace was a member of the military tribunal who tried the Lincoln assassination conspirators. He was, in fact, the only member with any legal expertise. Seven men and one woman were tried in connection with the assassination. Four of them were sentenced to death by hanging, including the woman, Mary Surratt. Four others were sent to prison.

Stephens will discuss the nation’s reaction to the assassination, the charges against the conspirators, the reason they were tried by a military commission, and what it was and how it operated. She will examine why they were all found guilty but received differing sentences and how politics within the U.S. government affected the trial. Finally, she will highlight Wallace’s role and talk about his painting The Conspirators, why he painted it, and what it says about how he judged the conspirators.

Stephens, who lives in New Mexico, has a bachelor’s degree in international politics from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and did graduate work at Johns Hopkins and Harvard universities. She worked for the Department of Defense for 26 years before retiring in 1994 as a member of the department’s senior executive service. Upon retirement, she began to study the American Civil War.

She lectures regularly on various Civil War topics. In 2002, she won the National Park Service’s E.W. Peterkin Award for her contributions to public understanding of Civil War history. She has written articles on Lew Wallace and Early’s 1864 invasion of the North for several Civil War publications, including North and South magazine. Her book on Wallace’s Civil War career, Shadow of Shiloh: Major General Lew Wallace in the Civil War, published by the Indiana Historical Society Press in October 2010, won the Civil War Forum of New York City’s William Henry Seward Award for best Civil War biography of 2011.

All lectures are free and open to the public, but space is limited. As a result, reservations are strongly encouraged. To make a reservation or for more information, call Larry Paarlberg at 765-362-5769 or email study@ben-hur.com.

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