Bulger's Beat: Emancipation Proclamation to stop in Nashville - WSMV News 4

Bulger's Beat: Emancipation Proclamation to stop in Nashville

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Historians are calling it the opportunity of a lifetime: coming soon to Nashville is the original Emancipation Proclamation document signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

Nashville is the only city in the Southeast on the "Discovering the Civil War" tour from Washington's National Archives.

The document arrives Feb. 12, on Lincoln's 203rd birthday, and will be at the Tennessee State Museum for just one week.

Museum director Lois Riggins-Ezell's love affair with history has gone on all her life, but it's a honeymoon attitude that surrounds the document soon visiting the museum she runs.

"You just can't get any closer to history. You can't get any closer to smelling the smoke of the Civil War or feeling the power of what that war defined for America," she said. "It's the piece of paper that defined who we are. It is the Emancipation Proclamation."

The decree that promised freedom to slaves 150 years ago arrives at a time when the historical hold on its author has never been hotter, thanks to the recent Steven Spielberg film, Lincoln.

But this time it's not Hollywood that's on display.

"Why wouldn't you want to come down and see it and have a moment of historical movement and emotion? Have your heart filled with joy that you live in a free country, where we shall all be free," Riggins-Ezell said.

That may be even more true for Tennesseans, considering only the commonwealth of Virginia saw more Civil War battles than the Volunteer State.

"This is a whole exhibit on discovering the Civil War, why did it happen, why should something like this never happen again," Riggins-Ezell said.

Some people have waited up to seven hours to view the Emancipation Proclamation at other stops on its tour, but the Tennessee State Museum is now accepting reservations so you can avoid long lines.

While there is no admission charge to see the document, you can make an online reservation for a specific date and time at just $1 per person by visiting: http://patron.tpac.org/events/detail/emancipation-proclamation-tn-state-museum.

The "Discovering the Civil War" exhibit remains on display through Sept. 1.

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