Speakers

Dr. John F. Marszalek- Executive Director of the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library and Museum and the Ulysses S. Grant Association (USGA). Dr. Marszalek, a Vietnam Veteran, is the William L. Giles Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at Mississippi State University. He is also the Executive Director of the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library and Museum and the Ulysses S. Grant Association (USGA). He earned his undergraduate degree at Canisius College and, at the University of Notre Dame, he earned his masters and doctoral degrees. He taught undergraduate and graduate students for more than thirty years, many of whom have written important books on the Civil War, Jacksonian America, and United States Race Relations. He has written or edited over 17 books, over 300 articles, and many book reviews. He has also appeared on numerous television programs. In 2017, he and his US Grant Library editors published a completely annotated edition of the US Grant Memoirs for Harvard University Press. Finally, he is married to Jeanne Kozmer Marszalek, has 3 sons, and 8 grandchildren.


David S. Nolen holds the rank of Professor in the Mississippi State University Libraries. He served as the Humanities Reference Librarian at MSU Libraries from 2008-2013 and began work as an editor and reference librarian with the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library in July 2013. He is a co-editor of The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant: The Complete Annotated Edition (Harvard University Press, 2017) and a co-author of Hold on with a Bulldog Grip: A Short Study of Ulysses S. Grant (University Press of Mississippi, 2019). David earned a Masters in Library and Information Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Latin American Studies from the University of Alabama. He also completed a Masters in Spanish at the University of Florida.


Dr. Ryan P. Semmes is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Congressional and Political Research Center at the Mississippi State University Libraries. He has been on the faculty at Mississippi State University since 2007 and has worked as archivist with the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library at MSU since 2009. Ryan completed his doctorate in the Department of History at Mississippi State University in 2020, where his dissertation focused on the connections between foreign and domestic policy and the nature of citizenship during the Reconstruction era.


Frank J. Williams is the retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island and is one of the country’s most renowned experts on Abraham Lincoln. He is the author or editor of over fourteen books; he has contributed chapters to several others; and has lectured on the subject throughout the country. At the same time, he has amassed an unsurpassed private library and archive that ranks among the nation’s largest and finest Lincoln collections.

In 2000, the Chief Justice was appointed to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission created by Congress to plan events to commemorate the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln in 2009. Since 1996, Chief Justice Williams has served as founding Chairman of The Lincoln Forum, a national assembly of Lincoln and Civil War devotees. For 9 years, he served as President of the Abraham Lincoln Association and, for 14 years, as President of The Lincoln Group of Boston. He is currently at work on an annotated bibliography of all the Lincoln titles published since 1865 for Southern Illinois University Press for which he is also writing Lincoln as Hero. His book of essays, Judging Lincoln, was published by Southern Illinois University Press in 2002. He, with Harold Holzer and Edna Greene Medford, has written The Emancipation Proclamation: Three Views, Social, Legal and Pictorial just published by Louisiana State University Press. His latest book, Lincoln Lessons: Reflections on America’s Greatest Leader, with William D. Pederson, was published by Southern Illinois University Press in 2009. He also serves as Literary Editor of the Lincoln Herald where his quarterly “Lincolniana” survey appears. He has been named by Lawdragon as one of the top 500 judges, out of 30,000 in the United States.

The Chief also served in the U.S. Army from 1962-67 achieving the rank of Captain. For his service he was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Bronze Star, 3 Air Medals and, from the Republic of Vietnam, the Gallantry Cross with Silver Star for Valor.

On December 30, 2003, the President of the United States, through the Secretary of Defense, invited Chief Justice Williams to be a member of the then Military Commissions Review Panel for tribunals to be held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with the rank of Major General. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 created the Court of Military Commission Review on which Williams served as a civilian appellate judge. He served as Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review from November 21, 2007 to December 23, 2009.