Archive for Monday, January 4, 2010

As part of state’s 150th birthday celebration, 150th anniversary of Civil War, Lawrence activist wants to invite Obama to speak in Lawrence

To help celebrate the 150th anniversary of Kansas and the beginning of the civil war, one local historian is thinking big. She wants to get President Barack Obama to give an address in Kansas.

January 4, 2010, 1:48 p.m. Updated January 4, 2010, 4:37 p.m.


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A Lawrence historian is organizing an effort to invite President Barack Obama to Lawrence in 2011 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Kansas statehood and the beginning of the U.S. Civil War.

Clenece Hills will host a meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 11 at the Lawrence Public Library to gather support for her idea that Lawrence should host a presidential address.

“I don’t think it is a good idea to think small when you are trying to draw attention to something,” Hills said.

Hills is proposing that Obama be invited to Lawrence on Sept. 18, 2011, which will be the 157th anniversary of the founding of Lawrence. Hills has suggested that Obama be part of an event at Sesquicentennial Point that would include a Lawrence City Band concert and remarks by Obama.

Hills, a Lawrence school teacher, is the former chair of the Lawrence Sesquicentennial Commission, which lobbied for the creation of Sesquicentennial Point near the Clinton Lake Dam. She hopes this event would spur new improvements at the point.

Kansas’ 150th birthday will be on Jan. 29, 2011, and the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War will be on April 12, 2011. Hills is proposing a September event for Lawrence in an effort to ensure better weather, she said.

Hills said she hopes Monday’s meeting generates enough support for the idea that she can ask the city and county commissions to extend an invitation to Obama within the next month.

Part of that process likely will be determining how much a presidential visit may cost the city in terms of security and other preparations. Hills said those costs weren’t yet known.

Judy Billings, director for the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau and for the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, said inviting the president is an intriguing idea but said it would take a large group of people stepping forward to serve as organizers.

“The history our area has is worthy of that type of attention,” Billings said. “But we just don’t have a lot of the necessary things in place right now. We’re trying to get an organization in place so when people have a big idea like this we’ll be ready.”

Billings also said time is of the essence. She said it would be challenging to organize all the details of a presidential visit prior to 2011.

“But you never know what can happen,” Billings said. “And I do believe we need to think big.”

Hills believes there’s at least a chance that Obama would be interested in making a speech in Lawrence. Hills said the important national role that Lawrence and Kansas played in the days leading up to the Civil War would provide a good setting, and she noted that Obama has several Kansas connections, including having former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as part of his cabinet.


Liberty275 8 years ago

It is without a doubt, obama would not call Sherman a terrorist although he would call our troops in iraq just that if they used similar tactics. OTOH, It would be fun to watch obama dodge that question if he even knows who Sherman was and what he did.

ksjayhawk74 8 years ago


I would be immensely proud to have Obama in our town. He did win in Douglas County, thanks to our well-educated and progressive electorate.

Stuart Evans 8 years ago

Can we get someone with a little more class and knowledge? I just feel like Obama would turn the entire event into a race issue. and even in a college town, there just isn't enough beer for all of us to agree to disagree.

ralphralph 8 years ago

Lawrence = too far from Copenhagen

Amy Heeter 8 years ago

I would prefere that city use funds to fix the streets.

mellyandthejets 8 years ago


I understand your analogy about people with great talent, such as Cash or Picasso, but what seperates them from President Obama, is results. They have actually a long lasting results that profoundly changed the world for the better.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but exactly what has Obama done? He has written two books, been a one time senator, won the Peace Prize, and become President. But what has actually done?

ksjayhawk74 8 years ago

"Now correct me if I'm wrong, but exactly what has Obama done? He has written two books, been a one time senator, won the Peace Prize, and become President. But what has actually done?"


I can't even count on both hands how many people have become President of the United States. You could fill a bus with how many people have been President of the United States. It's really not that big of a deal.

As someone earlier suggested, he probably will make it racial. Why would someone commemorating the Civil War need to bring up racial issues, really?

What should we be angrier about? If he does come and speak in Lawrence, even though he's a hack who just lucked his way into becoming President. Or should we be angry if has the nerve to decline and just ignore our city, like a jerk?

mom_of_three 8 years ago

General Sherman???
I wouldn't call him a terrorist.
What do you think he was and what do you think he did?

Zachary Stoltenberg 8 years ago

He'll be too scared to come to Kansas. This is a state where we shoot abortion providers and teach creationism to our kids. I think it might be a little too "Christian" for him, no matter what the occasion.

EXks 8 years ago

Maybe FIVE-time deferment (draft-doger), NEVER served, (but can shoot a guy in the face) Dick Cheney will come.

dukie1 8 years ago

Liberty275 (Anonymous) says…

It is without a doubt, obama would not call Sherman a terrorist although he would call our troops in iraq just that if they used similar tactics.

Really? Was Sherman really a terrorist? Let's see, how many people were killed in Sherman's march from Atlanta to Savannah? And how many men were killed at Gettysburg? Antietam? Shiloh? Maybe Grant, Lee, McClellan, Jackson, etc were the real terrorists!

mellyandthejets 8 years ago

thank you for backing me up ksjayhawk79!

Jimo 8 years ago

"call Sherman a terrorist"

Doesn't terrorism require innocent victims? Just how are traitors innocent victims?

Just because we politely avoid talking in such blunt terms in hope of some degree of national reconciliation, if someone wishes to push the topic by claiming that somehow those who took up arms against the United States and murdered thousands upon thousands of our troops on the battlefield weren't treasonous villains then they'll be a fight. I can't think of a more appropriate event to honor the birth of Kansas out from the flames of Southern villainy and terrorism than to invite the son of those freed by blood from the chains of their immoral oppressors to speak in remembrance.

brian1981 8 years ago

"Obama is one of the most intelligent, best educated presidents in our country's history."

Based on what? George W. Bush graduated from Yale, one of the consensus top three or four universities in the world, but I don't recall any liberal ever accusing him of being a genius. In fact he was regularly run down as a literal idiot.

Never mind that even if you could measure intelligence, it's hardly the decisive attribute in leader quality. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot were all highly intelligent. Hermann Goering had an IQ in the mid-100s. Karl Marx was a classic educated liberal bourgeois elite. For that matter, I had dozens of "highly-educated" professors at KU that were complete fruitcakes. In the last three years we've seen two college-teaching Ph.D's in Lawrence get convicted of murder.

So no, even if it were possible to qualify unusual "intelligence" in a leader, I'm not sure what you've won, unless you want to blindly follow them in a goose-step off a cliff.

dukie1 8 years ago


Southerners aren't - and weren't - "treasonous villians". I have neither the time nor the patience to argue about the role of the South in American history. However, I would remind you that Jews have forgiven the Germans for the Holocaust and America has forgiven Germany and Japan for WW II. Even if you assume that the South was completely to blame for the Civil War, do you think you might have it in you to forgive the South for the Civil War? It would be the American thing to do, wouldn't it?

Let's not forget that Southerners volunteer for our armed forces in number in disproportionate numbers.

leedavid 8 years ago

Obama won't come here. We are hard to get to and there isn't much of an audience or political gain to come here. He would have to fly to KC or Topeka on Air Force One, and Marine One brought in to chopper him over. Seriously, the inconviences with a presidential visit are really unbelieveable in a small town in the days leading to the event.

tunahelper 8 years ago

the Civil War did NOT start in Kansas. omaba is too scared to come to Kansas.

leedavid 8 years ago


"Hell, just today I was reading in my coffeetable book on the Who that they played Shawnee Mission South High School in the Sixties. Anything is possible."

What did you read again?

Leslie Swearingen 8 years ago

Lincoln said, I don't care about the details, just get me a general who will win the war. He got Grant and Sherman and they got him the win. Cold Harbor and Chattanooga were two more terrible battles. They tore up the railroad tracks and twisted the rails so they couldn't be used again. They called them Sherman's hairpins. But it was the acts of greed and vengence after the war that drove a desperate South into awful acts. You could draw up a list of wrongs done by both sides and they would be about equal. The only difference would be the reason why they were done. Yes, President Obama should be invited.

mom_of_three 8 years ago

Lincoln approved a lot of things during the Civil War, anything to win the war, and bring the South back into the Union.
Still approve of the guy. And still approve of Sherman. On his march to the sea, Sherman destroyed everything that would sustain Southerners, who in return, told their soldier family, which destroyed their morale, and caused them to return home to provide for their family. By destroying the supplies, the Southern army could not be sustained either. It helped to end the war. Different time, different situation than now.

leedavid 8 years ago

The Who opening for the Buckingham's that would have been a great concert. Today it would be the exact opposite. LOL!

dukie1 8 years ago

Mom of three - That's right. Sherman broke the will of the South to fight, but in his march from Atlanta to Savannah, there were few casualties on either side. By breaking their will to fight, Sherman shortened the war and saved lives on BOTH sides.

One caveat about Sherman - he was not only a really strange guy, but he was a racist of the first order.

jackpot 8 years ago

Marion are you an old Raider? Yes the The Who opened for the Buckingham. The first year that South opened.

classclown 8 years ago

Jimo (Anonymous) says…

I can't think of a more appropriate event to honor the birth of Kansas out from the flames of Southern villainy and terrorism than to invite the son of those freed by blood from the chains of their immoral oppressors to speak in remembrance.


Considering that Obama's mother is white and his father is a Kenyan, how exactly is Obama a son of those freed from the chains of oppression?

Liberty275 8 years ago

"Was Sherman really a terrorist?"

Yes. If a portion of the population in the area he was passing through fought back, he turned his forces loose to destroy the infrastructure that supported everyone in that area. He won the civil war by starving women and children until their husbands and fathers would no longer fight.

dukie1 8 years ago

That is right - Sherman destroyed infrastructure NOT armies. His tactics saved lives. It is better that women and children went hungry than to have lost their fathers and husbands.

Let's not put Sherman in the same category as those who committed the acts on 9/11.

remember_username 8 years ago

With 6 electoral votes in a state as red as they come, Kansas has nothing political to justify the effort of a presidential visit. Getting the rest of the U.S. to acknowledge that the opening salvos of the Civil War actually began in Kansas might be historically interesting, but again not worth the visit. Plus, the invitation is for a date that is a week after the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and I would imagine the nation's focus would be elsewhere that month. Although, it might be gutsy for President Obama to come to Kansas and remind the nation of what took place here ca. 150 years ago and that terrorism is as much a part of American nature as it is the nature of Islamic extremism, even though we don't really like admitting it.

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