O. James Lighthizer

National Humanities Medal



For his decades of work protecting thousands of acres of Civil War battlefields for future generations. As a government official and then as the President of the Civil War Preservation Trust, James Lighthizer has devoted himself completely to preserving priceless historic sites so that all Americans can visit, learn, and pay their respects to those who sacrificed their lives on that hallowed ground.

In a long and varied career with state and local government as well as with a preservation trust, O. James Lighthizer ensured that thousands of acres of Civil War battlefields remain accessible, in perpetuity, to the American people. Lighthizer honed his administrative skills first as a member of the Maryland General Assembly and then in Anne Arundel County. As county executive, he set aside farmland and established a waterfront park, saving from development 2,500 acres in the first instance and 900 acres along a seven-mile stretch of river in the second. After two terms, Lighthizer was appointed Maryland secretary of transportation in 1991, when he received national attention for an innovative program that saved more than 4,500 acres of the state’s Civil War battlefields. In 1999, he took the helm of the Civil War Preservation Trust, where he saved the Slaughter Pen Farm on the Fredericksburg Battlefield in Virginia.  

About the National Humanities Medal

The National Humanities Medal, inaugurated in 1997, honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation's understanding of the humanities and broadened our citizens' engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy, and other humanities subjects. Up to 12 medals can be awarded each year.