Ellsworth lecture brings Civil War to life


Anna Maria Liccione

William McCone, flanked by Robert Bushnell and Lynn Sawyer

On April 17, Civil War historian and author William L. McKone of Cambridge presented the 28th Annual Ellsworth Lecture. Preceding the lecture, McKone organized a living history event on campus. From 1-5 p.m., a Civil War encampment could be seen on the green outside the WLLC. Multiple tents were set up with authentic Civil War replicas, period clothing, and demonstrations.

The Ellsworth Trust sponsored “Vermont Enters the Civil War,” which coincides with the sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary, of the Civil War. McKone is a member of the governor’s Vermont Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, president of the 18th Vermont Regiment: Volunteers for Historic Preservation, and an active re-enactor at Civil War events. He is also the author of “Vermont’s Irish Rebel” the biography of Captain John Lonergan, an Irish-born Civil War hero buried in Burlington, who received a Medal of Honor for his heroism at the Battle of Gettysburg.

The lecture three-part lecture featured Lynn Sawyer as narrator, McKone as Governor Erastus Fairbanks, and Robert Bushnell as President Abraham Lincoln. Throughout the program, which was introduced by Academic Dean Dan Regan, each member of the “panel” arose to address the somewhat meager audience in Bentley 207.

As Governor Fairbanks, McKone described the process of Vermont’s entrance in the Civil War, through various speeches he read. Bushnell, as President Lincoln also rose to the podium to provide the audience with segments of Lincoln’s speeches, most notably, his inaugural address. These two figures’ speeches were punctuated with explanations offered by narrator Lynn Sawyer of what was happening during this time period. Her commentary provided attendees with some clarification of the events that were taking place at the time of Vermont’s entrance into the war.

The lecture was followed by a brief question and answer period, and the evening was closed out by the audience joining in a chorus of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

The Ellsworth Trust is a private foundation endowed by Professor Robert E. Ellsworth (1907-1994), who taught history and government at JSC from 1957 to 1973. The Trust was established in 1983.

The Ellsworth Trust enriches higher education at JSC by providing scholarships for outstanding undergraduates majoring in history and political science, the sponsorship of the annual Ellsworth Lecture, cultural events, and travel grants and fellowships to students and alumni.

Every year, the members of the Ellsworth Trust meet to personally interview the finalists who are selected as potential Ellsworth Scholars. After reviewing their written applications, essays, scholastic records, and letters of reference, the members then choose the scholars. Becoming an Ellsworth Scholar is considered a high honor at JSC.

The 2011 Ellsworth Scholars include undergraduates Evan Bean, Julia Burgess, James Dempsey, James Luce, and Brittany Wieland, and Graduate Scholars Deborah Nevil, Angelica Caterino, and Scott McDowell.

The 2012 scholars are Julia Burgess, Dylan Giambatista, James Luce, and Austin St. Cyr.