Fergus Bordewich

A crowd of more than 50 people listens as Fergus Bordewich speaks at the Bel Air library June 23. (Photo courtesy of Jason Williams / June 23, 2012)

Stories of one of the country's most contentious debates over slavery and westward expansion and the Underground Railroad filled the Bel Air library June 23.

With more than 50 in attendance, Fergus Bordewich, author of "America's Great Debate," spoke about the about the epic story of the Compromise of 1850, bringing to life during his animated discussion the colorful characters like Daniel Webster and John Colhoon and their stances. Stories included those not found in history books about the longest debate in Congressional history - like the fights that broke out on the Senate floor; the extraordinary political strategies that were at work during this turbulent time in our history; and the untold heroes of the Underground Railroad.

The Fergus Bordewich program is part of the Journey Stories' Meet the Author series and was held in conjunction with the Journey Stories Smithsonian exhibition at the Abingdon library. Harford County's role in the Underground Railroad is examined in an exhibition at the Bel Air library.

"Harford Friends School would like to applaud the Harford County Public Library and the Harford County Department of Community Services for their collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution in bringing this wonderful series Journey Stories to our community," Lois Kissinger Kelly, board of trustees chair for the Harford Friends School, said in a press release. "As the lead sponsor, Harford Friends School welcomed Fergus Bordewich as he regaled us with stories of America's great orators such as Henry Clay and Stephen Douglas that led to the Compromise of 1850."


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"I hope all will take the opportunity to visit the fascinating and interesting exhibits that are spread throughout the county," Kelly said.

"Bringing the Smithsonian Exhibition and its related exhibits, programming and author presentations to Harford County has been an amazing journey for all involved in the project," Library Director Mary Hastler said. "More than 15,000 visitors have toured exhibits, attended author discussions and participated in programming at library branches and activity centers. We hope to see many more before the exhibition closes on July 6 and look forward to bringing new cultural arts opportunities of this caliber to our community in the future."