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American West expert to speak at Edgefield history night May 27

While Abraham Lincoln spent little time west of the Mississippi, Oregonians of the Civil War era strongly aligned themselves with the president on various political issues — Indian relations, military policies, civil and legal rights, and North-South ideological conflicts.

Richard Etulain, professor emeritus at the University of New Mexico, will discuss how closely connected Lincoln was to the American West and the Oregon Country as part of McMenamins Edgefield and Oregon Encyclopedia’s history night speaker series Tuesday, May 27.

The free discussion will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Edgefield’s Power Station Theater. Doors open at 5 p.m. All ages are welcome.

More than 16,000 books have been published about Lincoln, yet none deals thoroughly with him and the Oregon Country. Etulain, who specializes in history and cultures of the American West and has published extensively on Lincoln’s life, recently turned his focus on the president’s links with the West.

In his latest book, Etulain refutes the argument that Pacific Northwest residents were mere “spectators of disunion.”

Instead, he argues men and women of the Oregon Country were personally and emotionally involved in the controversial ideas and events that inflamed the United States during the fractious era.

Etulain was a history professor and director of the Center for the American West at the University of New Mexico from 1979 to 2001. He is the author of “Lincoln Looks West” (2010), and the new study, “Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in the Civil War Era” (2013).

He now is a full-time researcher and writer residing in Portland.

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