West Virginia University’s David C. Hardesty Jr. Festival of Ideas returns for the spring semester with Forest “Jack” Bowman, Jackson & Kelly emeritus professor of law at the WVU College of Law. His talk, “The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln: Emancipation & West Virginia Statehood,” will take place on Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mountainlair Ballrooms. The event is co-sponsored by the Nath Lecture Series and the WVU Honors College.

A former captain in the U.S. Army, Bowman is especially interested in the American Civil War, having ancestors who served on both sides of that struggle. As a lawyer and student of the life of Abraham Lincoln, he has long been interested in the legal questions that surrounded Lincoln’s issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation and his signing of the bill creating the state of West Virginia.

Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation has been criticized over the years as an unconstitutional expansion of Presidential power as well as an empty gesture that actually freed no slaves. Likewise, his approval of the legislation creating the state of West Virginia has raised constitutional questions and invoked criticism for what has been called West Virginia’s “secession” from Virginia.

Lincoln approved this division of Virginia while at the same time putting down the attempted secession of southern states from the Union. Bowman will look at the constitutional as well as the political bases for both of these actions.

Bowman is a native West Virginian and a WVU graduate where he served as student body president in 1959-60.

After serving as a professor of law at WVU for 23 years, he retired in 2002. During his tenure, he was named Professor of the Year by seven graduating classes, University-wide Professor of the Year in 1998, and in 1988 was named “Professor of the Year” for all of higher education in the state by the Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia. Watch him describe his days as a teacher as part of WVU’s Heritage Project here.

Bowman is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, an honor bestowed upon only one-third of 1 percent of America’s lawyers, and is the only three-time recipient of the “Certificate of Merit,” the highest award The West Virginia State Bar can bestow on one of its members. In 1995 the American Bar Association and the American Law Institute awarded him the Harrison Tweed Award for outstanding contributions to continuing legal education in America.

The Nath Lecture Series is endowed by Dr. Joginder Nath. The Festival of Ideas talks are free and open to the public. Those who are unable to attend may watch the event live at http://webcast.wvu.edu or join the conversation on Twitter at #wvuideas.

Festival of Ideas was created in 1995 by former University president, David C. Hardesty Jr. It was inspired by events he organized as WVU’s student body president in the 1960s. Today, this lecture series is organized by the Office of University Events and brings key figures from politics, business, research, entertainment, sports and the arts to campus throughout the academic year. Its aim is to open the doors of discussion and facilitate the free exchange of ideas and knowledge within the Mountaineer community and beyond.



CONTACT: Liz Dickinson, Office of University Events
304-293-8025, liz.dickinson@mail.wvu.edu

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