2015 Little Lectures begin with ‘West Virginians and Lincoln Assassination’

The 2015 Little Lecture Series of the West Virginia Humanities Council kicks off at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Mar. 22, with Marshall University history professor Michael Woods presenting “West Virginians and the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln.” This year marks the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s death, the first assassination of a U.S. president.

The shooting of Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth in April 1865 shocked northerners and southerners alike. In the new and internally divided state of West Virginia, the assassination immediately challenged the process of reconciliation needed to rebuild communities disrupted by the Civil War. More than most other Americans, West Virginians had to confront former foes on a daily basis. Lincoln’s assassination, which came at the very start of the Reconstruction period, made this challenge even greater.

Professor Woods will examine the assassination and the little-known roles played by West Virginians. They include Ritchie County native General Thomas M. Harris who served on the military commission that tried the assassination conspirators. Morgantown’s William McPeck of the 6th West Virginia Cavalry was on guard outside Ford’s Theatre the night of the assassination and helped carry the wounded president from the theater to the Petersen House where he died. Woods says Everton Conger of the 3rd West Virginia Cavalry helped lead the detachment of soldiers who tracked down Booth hiding in a Virginia barn that was then put to the torch.

Michael Woods teaches courses on U.S. history, the Civil War era, and the U.S. South at Marshall University. He completed his BA at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA, and his MA and PhD at the University of South Carolina. He has published articles in the Journal of Social History and the Journal of American History. His first book, Emotional and Sectional Conflict in the Antebellum United States, is under contract with Cambridge University Press. Woods is also a member of the Humanities Council Sesquicentennial Speakers Bureau.

Robinson & McElwee PLLC is sponsoring the 2015 Little Lecture Series. Founded in Charleston in 1983, the law firm serves clients throughout West Virginia and Ohio.

Admission to the lecture is $10 and includes a reception after the program. Seating is limited and people interested in attending should confirm that seats are available by calling 304-346-8500 no later than noon Thursday,

Mar. 19.

The other 2015 Little Lectures are:

• Apr. 26 – What Holds Us Together by West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman

• May 31 – America Through the Lens of Ken Burns by Susan Shumaker of Florentine Films

• June 28 – Archeology of West Virginia’s Frontier Forts by archeologist Stephen McBride.

All Little Lectures are presented on Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. in the MacFarland-Hubbard House, located at 1310 Kanawha Boulevard, East, in Charleston. For more information call the West Virginia Humanities Council at 304-346-8500 or visit


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