Civil War historian and author to speak on origins of Juneteenth

Edward T. Cotham, Jr.

In conjunction with the exhibit, “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War,” which is on display at George Memorial Library from February 23 to April 4, Fort Bend County Libraries will present a special program, “The Generals Behind Juneteenth,” on Sunday, March 24, beginning at 2:00 pm, in the Meeting Room at George Memorial Library, 1001 Golfview in Richmond.

The program is presented by Civil War historian, Edward T. Cotham, Jr., who has written numerous award-winning books and articles on Civil War history, emphasizing battles and skirmishes in Texas. Juneteenth has become one of the most important symbols of the end of the Civil War and the coming of Emancipation, but what do we really know about the events that shaped it? On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3 from his headquarters in Galveston. Granger’s order confirmed that the Emancipation Proclamation was in effect in Texas. Celebrated today as the origin of the “Juneteenth” festivities, General Granger’s order that day was actually the result of a long chain of political and military events involving the battles and leaders of the Civil War.

A former president of the Houston Civil War Roundtable, Cotham is active in the Civil War preservation movement. He is a life member of the Civil War Preservation Trust, and currently serves as president of the Friends of Sabine Pass Battleground. He is also a member of the Company of Military Historians and the Author’s Guild.

Cotham has been widely recognized for his efforts to preserve Civil War history. In 2005, he was awarded the Jefferson Davis Historical Gold Medal by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and he won the Frank C. Vandiver Award of Merit by the Houston Civil War Round Table the following year.

His published works include Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston (1998) and Sabine Pass: the Confederacy’s Thermopylae (2004), which was awarded the Dan and Marilyn Laney Prize for Civil War Battlefield Preservation. In 2006, he published the book The Southern Journey of a Civil War Marine: The Illustrated Note-Book of Henry O. Gusley.

The unique nature of this book made it a bestseller and led to an interview on National Public Radio that brought Cotham and his book to the attention of Civil War enthusiasts across the country. He contributed a chapter on “Federal Naval Strategy and Texas” for the book The Seventh Star of the Confederacy: Texas During the Civil War, published in 2009, which won the Fort Worth Civil War Round Table’s A.M. Pate, Jr. Award for excellence in research and writing on the Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi.

Cotham currently serves as the president of the Terry Foundation in Houston. He holds an undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Houston, a master’s degree in Economics from the University of Chicago, and a law degree from the University of Texas.

Those attending the program are invited to tour the exhibit, which is on display in the Bohachevsky Gallery in the lower level of George Memorial Library. Drawing on recent scholarship, this exhibition encourages a deeper understanding of Lincoln’s life, policies, and accomplishments.

The program is free and open to the public. For more information, call the library’s Public Information Office at 281-341-2677.

About the Exhibit

Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War, a traveling exhibition for libraries, was organized by the National Constitution Center and the American Library Association Public Programs Office. The traveling exhibition has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War is based on an exhibition of the same name developed by the National Constitution Center.

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