On this first evening, Dr. Birdine will introduce Gen. Robert E. Lee who will introduce all 2010 Chautauquans Clara Barton, William Seward, and Major Martin Delany, as well as himself. After Gen. Lee introduces Confederate General Stonewall Jackson (1824-1863) who is portrayed by Dr. Doug Mishler, a visiting professor of History and Humanities Programs at the University of Nevada, Jackson will take center stage for the evening's performance.
Wednesday evening’s speaker under the Chautauqua Tent will be William Seward, former Governor of New York, U.S. Senator from New York, Secretary of State and runner up for Republican Presidential nomination in 1860.
Dr. William Worley will portray Seward. Local entertainment will be Russell Weber, Patricia Smith and Connie McQuinn. MC for the evening will be Col. Ty Thomas.
Two workshops will be held at the Altus Public Library on Wednesday. The 10 a.m. workshop with Dr. Doug Mishler is “Stonewall Jackson: God’s Avenging Angel.” Karen Vuranch will present the workshop “Is War the Mother of Invention?” at 2 p.m. Everyone is encouraged to come and hear these fine historians and enjoy some refreshments.
Governor of New York, 1839-43; U. S. Senator from New York, 1849-1861; Runner-up for the Republican Presidential nomination, 1860; Secretary of State, 1861-1869; William H. Seward, or “Henry” as his wife always called him, was one of the best known political figures in the United States for 20 years. In his “maiden speech” on the floor of the Senate in 1849, in the presence of the likes of Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster and Jefferson Davis, Seward proclaimed that a “higher law” than the Constitution declared slavery to be immoral and unjust. This statement earned him the somewhat undeserved reputation as the leading abolitionist of the North.
There was a true abolitionist in the Seward household—and it was not Henry. Rather, his wife Frances Miller Seward was the consistent absolute opponent of slavery. Henry always opposed it, but was not an advocate of eliminating slavery until the Civil War brought him, like Lincoln, to the point of supporting its abolition behind enemy lines.
Ultimately, William Henry Seward served the state of New York 20 years, four as state Senator, four as Governor and 12 as U. S. Senator; he served the nation 8 years as Secretary of State under Presidents Lincoln and Johnson. Uniquely qualified to be Secretary of State, but wishing mightily that he, not Lincoln, had been elected in 1860, Seward became in his 8 years at the post what is reputed to be one of the 19th century’s most outstanding Secretaries.
Father to four children by birth and one by adoption, Seward’s sons served during the Civil War either in battle or in government service. Seward’s daughter Fanny, who died within a year of the end of the conflict, left a wonderful series of letters viewing Washington, her father and those with whom he came in contact through a loving daughter’s eyes. Frances Seward’s extensive correspondence with her husband is even more revealing and important.
Attorney, politician, diplomat, father and husband, William Henry Seward is buried in Auburn Cemetery. On his tombstone is the inscription that dates from his defense of a mentally ill African American whom no one else in Auburn would defend. The inscription states: “He was faithful.”
A native of eastern New Mexico and resident historian of Kansas City, Missouri, Dr. Worley has written numerous books about Kansas City, the Southwest and the development of the Midwest. He is Instructor of History at Metropolitan Community Colleges of Kansas City-Blue River, and serves as Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
In the world of Chautauqua, Worley has portrayed a wide variety of characters from Harry Truman to railroad restaurateur Fred Harvey, political boss Tom Pendergast, 1920s “goat-gland doctor” John Brinkley and animation and entertainment entrepreneur Walt Disney. He has twice before participated in Oklahoma Chautauqua, first as Tulsa’s own Cyrus Avery on Route 66, and then as oilman and philanthropist Waite Phillips in the 2007 Oklahoma Centennial Chautauqua. Worley has presented historic characters in Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, New Mexico, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, New Hampshire and Northern Mariana Islands.
In 2009, Worley studied in the University of Rochester holdings of the William Henry Seward papers and visited the Seward family home in Auburn, New York.
For more information about 2010 Chautauqua or to obtain a schedule, call the Altus Public Library at 580-477-2890 or the Hollis Public Library at 580-688-2744.
2010 Chautauqua is sponsored by the Southern Prairie Library System, Shortgrass Arts and Humanities Council, Western Oklahoma State College, and Main Street Altus. 2010 Chautauqua is being made possible by major funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Oklahoma Humanities Council.