The name Lincoln generates as popular a response by all Americans as virtually any name in USA history. His accomplishments are appreciated by all even though so few know off-hand what a phenominal leader he was. Perhaps his most strenuous achievements were his efforts to address the problem of slavery.
In 1865 President Lincoln was leading the way to pass the 13th Ammendment of the Constitution of the United States. It would officially end slavery in this country. But, the task was frought with difficulty.
The end of the war between the States was soon-expected. Lincoln’s desire was to reintroduce the South into the Union as states, not as a defeated people. His spirit was to bring them back into the nation gracious.
But, if that happened before the 13th Ammendment passed, there was little doubt that the Sounthern states would join with the Democrats and vote it down. Arguments which defended the assumed inequality betweens whites and negroes was hard to hear. Bad theology undergirded the convenient sounding argument of natural law. God was given credit for this humanly contrived position of whites claiming superiority over blacks. Nasty!
Lincoln wisely surmised that his Emancipation Proclamation may be declared by the judiciary as a limited policy as the President’s war-time powers act. If that were the case, then if would be repealed by those still favoring slavery. The president was not eager to let that scenario play itself out without his own effort to do something about it.
A delegation from the South is arranged through the compromising effort sof Francis Blair, much to the discomfort of Lincoln. But, Blair’s support for the passage of the 13th Ammendment was needed. The effort becomes more complicated as Lincoln orders the delegation hold up outside of Washington and that they wait for him to meet them.
Those who know history, the vote is close but passes. Yet, the dramatic story is nevertheless breathtaking. In juxaposition the family tensions with Mary, their son, national popularity, resentful politicians, bitterness among his enemies and the horrors of war, this story is told very well.
Dan Day-Lewis is outstanding. Sally Field is as remarkable as she has been over a lifetime of talented presentations. David Stratairn is an excellent supporting role. Tommy Lee Jones is terrific in his role, highlighted by the final scene he plays after his wig is removed.
This movie was brilliant. Go see it. You will be wowed.
photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography