AUBURN UNIVERSITY – The spring season of the Discover Auburn lecture series begins Jan. 29 with a talk by Steven Brown on his new book, “John McKinley and the Antebellum Supreme Court: Circuit Riding in the Old Southwest.” Brown’s talk is at 3 p.m. in the Special Collections and Archives Department at the Ralph Brown Draughon Library.
According to Brown, an associate professor in Auburn University’s Department of Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts, Andrew Jackson once called McKinley “the most important man in Alabama.” Brown said McKinley not only played a prominent role in the settling of Alabama as a major land speculator but also contributed to the creation of its educational institutions as one of the first trustees of the University of Alabama and served Alabama politics as a member of the state legislature.
McKinley would go on to serve for 15 years as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Ironically, it was his service on the court that saw him drop from public view after his appointment in 1837. Assigned to ride the newly created Ninth Circuit, which had him traverse Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas nine months of the year hearing cases, he was away from the circles of power in both Washington and Alabama. However, Brown said, McKinley’s commitment to his office and to the court is often overlooked.
Brown’s talk is the first in the 2013 Discover Auburn series. Hosted by Auburn University Libraries and Auburn University Bookstore, the public programs are free. Presentations are followed by refreshments and book signings.
Parking and Tiger Transit to the library is available from the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art.
Scheduled lectures for the spring series are: Feb. 6, “Deep Water: The Alabama Gulf Coast After the BP Oil Spill,” Judy Sheppard; March 7, St. John’s Bible Lecture (with the Library of Architecture, Design and Construction); March 19, “Charles Darwin: A Celebration of His Life and Legacy,” James Bradley et al.; April 9,” Longleaf: As Far as the Eye Can See,” Rhett Johnson, Beth Maynor Young, Bill Finch, John Hall; April 11, Xolela Mangcu Lecture (with Africana Studies), April 18: “The Gulf Coast Oyster Industry: Hope for the Future,” William Walton; April 23, and Auburn Authors (with the Graduate School).
Auburn University Libraries serves the more than 24,000 students and faculty of Auburn with a collection in excess of 3.4 million volumes. The Special Collections and Archives Department collects, preserves and houses rare and unique items relating to the histories of Auburn University, the state of Alabama, the southeastern region, the Civil War, Native Americans and aviation. The Auburn University Digital Library develops accessible digital collections of materials that support the teaching and research of Auburn faculty and students, and that, in turn, further the mission of Auburn University. These collections are made available to educators and students in the state, nation and the world.
(Contributed by Jayson Hill.)