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Lincoln: The Months Before Sumter with Author Erik Larson

In-Person Program

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, May 1, 2024 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1L0571
National Museum of Natural History
Baird Auditorium
10th St & Constitution Ave, NW
Metro: Federal Triangle
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Gen. Admission

Erik Larson (Photo: Nina Subin)

On November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln became the unlikely victor in a tight race for president. The country was bitterly at odds­—Southern extremists were moving closer to destroying the Union, with one state after another seceding and Lincoln powerless to stop them. Slavery fueled the conflict, but the passions of North and South came to focus on a federal fortress in Charleston Harbor: Fort Sumter.

Drawing on his new book The Demon of Unrest, Erik Larson examines the chaotic months between Lincoln’s election and the Confederacy’s shelling of Sumter—a period marked by tragic errors and miscommunications, enflamed egos and craven ambitions, personal tragedies and betrayals. Lincoln himself wrote that the trials of these five months were “so great that, could I have anticipated them, I would not have believed it possible to survive them.”

In conversation with author Louis Bayard and using information from diaries, secret communiques, slave ledgers, and plantation records, Larson discusses the pivotal period between the election of Abraham Lincoln and the start of the Civil War—a slow-burning crisis that finally tore a deeply divided nation in two.

A pre-signed copy of The Demon of Unrest (Crown) is included in the ticket price.

General Information

  • Registration for this program will end by 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, May 1, 2024. Tickets will be available for purchase at the door. Be prepared to use your mobile device and credit card only. No cash transactions.
  • Refer to our health and safety information for in-person programs.