Katie Clark Wins 2012 Veron Biggar Scholarship
The Aurora Historical Society is proud to announce that Katie Clark, an Aurora High School senior, is our 2012 scholarship winner. Katie submitted a PowerPoint presentation on Abolition, one of the specified topics relating to our forth-coming exhibition Lincoln: The Constitution and The Civil War.
Katie’s presentation, entitled Aurora in the Antebellum: The Role of Aurora, Ohio in the Antebellum Abolition and Union Movements, explains why many Aurorans were hesitant to become supporters of the North’s role in the Civil War. Katie notes that the Western Reserve, excluding Aurora, strongly supported the end of slavery and the notorious abolitionist John Brown came from nearby Hudson, Ohio. Brown led his followers on a raid on the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1860 and historians often cite this event as being a catalyst to the start of the Civil War.
Katie cites several examples of how Aurora and its citizens transitioned from staunchly anti-abolitionist to pro-Union over the course of several months. She mentioned the mob who chased a Hudson abolitionist out of church, referenced Plain Dealer articles commenting on Aurora’s support of the Democrat Party and its presidential candidates Douglas and Johnson. She included the article which demonstrates Aurora change in political position when H. Hurd and Sons were seen to support America. Unfortunately, these changes were not wide spread because the Plain Dealer stated that in May of 1861 “Nothing thus far has been done in that town, either in raising fighting men, or money to aid the cause. An effort, however, has been made to organize a home guard, and even that failed.”
Katie believes that politics and pocketbooks were influential in how Aurorans behaved during the war. The cheese barons in Aurora conducted a lucrative business with the south. The town was also very rural and extremely supportive of the Democrat party. These two considerations made the citizens of Aurora take a “more neutral stance on abolition and be less enthusiastic supporters of the Union during the early years of the Civil War.”
Katie’s use of primary and secondary documents as well as the quality of her PowerPoint presentation led AHS to choose her as their 2012 scholarship winner. Members can view Katie’s PowerPoint presentation at our web site: www.aurorahistorical.org.
Katie will be attending The Ohio State University, Humanities Scholars Program. She appreciates the scholarship and will be using the money in a special way.