Isaac Newton Arnold

Hartwick to Commemorate “The Journey from Slavery to Freedom”

September 17, 2012

Hartwick College's Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration for the academic year 2012-13 will commence with two events on Saturday, September 22, which is the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's issuance of his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

According to Harry Bradshaw Matthews, Associate Dean and Director of the U.S. Pluralism Center at Hartwick College, this year's series of events commemorate "The Journey from Slavery to Freedom: Intersecting Voices for Racial and Gender Equality from the Pages of 19th Century Classics." On Saturday, from 3-5 p.m., the public is invited to an exhibit at the U.S. Pluralism Center in Bresee Hall on the Hartwick College campus. Items on display from Matthews' privately owned collection will include rare images of President Lincoln and those of his personal friend and close confidant, Isaac Newton Arnold, a Hartwick Seminary and Academy alumnus and Congressman from Illinois.

Arnold was born in Hartwick, Otsego County in 1815. Following his studies, including tutorial in law by Cooperstown attorneys, Arnold relocated as a lawyer to Illinois in 1836. During the years prior to the 1860 national election, Arnold emerged as a documented member of the Underground Railroad, proving legal counsel to those accused of assisting runaway slaves.

President Lincoln issued his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation 150 years ago, on September 22, 1862. Four months earlier, the President signed into law Congressman Arnold's bill ending slavery in Washington, DC. These actions led to the President's Emancipation Proclamation effective January 1, 1863.

Two featured items on display during the Commemoration will be busts of President Lincoln, both of which are newly acquired items in the Matthews Collection that support the work of the United States Colored Troops Institute at Hartwick College and its student chapter, the Harriet Tubman Mentoring Project. Also on display for the first time will be a copy of Arnold's famous speech delivered in the House of Representatives on February 17, 1862. Only 12 copies of the printed version are known to exist in addition to Matthews' copy, and are catalogued at such sites as the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Harvard University, and the Library of Virginia. Matthews' copy is the only one known to exist in New York.

From 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, there will be a special tribute to Congressman Arnold's House Resolution of 1862 that brought slavery to an end in Washington D.C. and set the stage for President Lincoln's Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. There will be a recital of Isaac Newton Arnold's "Slavery the Cause of the War and All Its Evils," delivered in the House of Representatives, February 17, 1862; and a recital of President Lincoln's "Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation," issued September 22, 1862. The singing group Redeeming Love will perform "Songs of the Civil War and the Period that Led Up to It." The event is free and open to the public.

For more information about the Civil War and the Journey from Slavery to Freedom, visit or contact Matthews at 607-431-4428 or

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,500 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes a uniquely experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a unique January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Valerie Capullo
Phone: 607-431-4031