Written by: Will Slaten
The Old Governor’s Mansion is currently hosting an exhibit displaying four original ballots from the election of 1860. The ballots themselves are in pristine condition and look exactly as they did 156 years ago, however, what the ballots represent historically is much more important, both nationally and locally.
The election of 1860 was a crucial moment in American history for a multitude of reasons; the most prominent being that it is when Abraham Lincoln was elected and the political rift between the North and the South was tearing the country apart.
“Students should come see the Ballots because not only are they a piece of America’s history, but also Milledgeville’s history,” said history major, Madlyn Kaufman, a senior and Docent for the Mansion, when asked the significance of the ballots. “One of the governors that lived at the Old Governor’s Mansion, Hershel Johnson, is on the ballot for Stephen Douglas because he was the vice president candidate.”
Museum Director, Matthew Davis explained how the Mansion got their hands on the artifacts. “ The Governor’s Mansion is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. We are one of nine Smithsonian affiliates in Georgia and with that partnership it allows us to receive loans from the Smithsonian,” Davis said. Despite the Smithsonian affiliation status that allows the Mansion to receive artifacts on loan, this exhibit still took over a year of planning on the part of the Mansion staff.
The ballots were specifically chosen from over millions of potential pieces to be displayed in close proximity to the elections that will be held this November. The Mansion has also paired with the GC music department to put on a lecture about music involved in election campaigns from past elections as well as the current one.
The lecture will be held on Oct. 20, led by Dana Gorzelany-Mostak of the music department and held in the Mansion’s education building. Students and Faculty receive tours of the Old Governor’s Mansion at no cost with a Bobcat card, leaving the GC community with no excuse not to take a look at a piece of history that carries such great significance. “I think it is great that GC students have the luxury of getting to see such cool pieces of history that would otherwise could only been seen in Washington D.C. at the Smithsonian,” said Hunter Jeffers, a GC Senior.
Students and faculty can also look forward to this spring when the Mansion, in conjunction with the Sallie Ellie Davis House, will be offering new events themed around the Civil Rights Movement and the African American business district that once existed in downtown Milledgeville.
(Feature image by: Will Slaten/ Contributing Photographer)