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RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - LincolnMan - 12-01-2012 08:49 PM

Laurie: I just got the Surratt Society newsletter in the mail today. Looking forward to reading it, as always. As far as your speculation regarding the inclusion of the scene in the LINCOLN movie-my guess is your correct. I wonder if that incident is found in Team of Rivals?

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - ReignetteC - 12-01-2012 09:44 PM

(11-30-2012 06:07 AM)RJNorton Wrote:  I found the scene with Tad interesting as I have read many versions of how things played out at Grover's.
Over the years I have read all these versions in a variety of different books:

Who accompanied him?

1. His tutor.

2. Alphonso Donn or Dunn (one of the group of Metropolitan Washington police officers assigned to the White House).

How did Tad find out his dad had been shot?

1. Someone rushed up the aisle, whispered what happened into the tutor's (or Donn's) ear, and Tad was rushed out of the theater before a general announcement was made to the audience.

2. A man rushed into the theater and yelled the tragic news to the entire audience with Tad still present.

3. An actor or manager went on stage and announced to the crowd that Lincoln had been shot with Tad still present.

4. A combination of 2 and 3.


Anthony Pitch and Edward Steers, among others, write that Alphonse Donn (sometimes spelled Dunn), a former member of the Metropolitan police, accompanied Tad to Grover’s Theatre.

As you know, Mary Lincoln gave President Lincoln’s assassination clothes (including the Brooks Brothers overcoat) to Alphonse Donn “for his devoted attentions to Mr. Lincoln.” (Mary Lincoln referred to Donn as “A Dunn.”)

Interestingly, Donn’s children and grandchildren referred to him as a “favorite” of the Lincoln’s. I have not found, however, any reference - by them - to Donn’s attendance at Grover’s Theatre on the fateful night of April 14, 1865.

Mr. Donn’s granddaughter wrote the following in 1933:

I am the granddaughter of the late Alphonse Donn (sometimes spelled Dunn), who was one of the personal guards of President Lincoln. About ten days after the assassination, Mrs. Lincoln presented the suit of clothes and overcoat worn by her husband on that fatal night to my grandfather because of his devotion and faithful service to the President.

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Mark MacKenzie - 12-02-2012 12:06 PM

Laurie, wasn't the Chase issue about things Chase had said "off the record" that found the way into the press. He criticized Lincoln and just about everyone else in the "informal" and do nothing cabinet. Then Lincoln, expertly, brought them all together and asked Chase directly if he believed these things and he disavowed his own words. Chase made to look like he was disloyal to Lincoln's re-election in favor of his election. The secretaries said Lincoln, himself, thought he handled it expertly. I just read about it in David Donald's book.

Lincolnman, are you referring to the scene where Lincoln comes to the secretaries' bedside? He was John Hay asks what time it was? Thats a very poignant scene where I think Lincoln ponders the death of all those 16 year olds, maybe also Willie.

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - L Verge - 12-02-2012 12:45 PM

Thanks, Mark. I thought Chase always coveted Lincoln's position as President. Given that I know very little about the political dealings of that day, I have been of the opinion that both Mr. Chase and his "charming" (i.e. devious) little daughter Kate were not above pulling anything dirty. Should I change my opinion?

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Ham920 - 12-02-2012 02:33 PM

I enjoyed the Lincoln movie very much and will be seeing it a second time with friends, but I have a question on a very minor point. In one of the scenes near the end of the movie Thaddeus Stevens as portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones is shown in bed without his hair piece and with his mulatto mistress. While I‘ve read that Stevens was never married and had a long term relationship with his mistress, does anyone know if he was really bald or was that just a Hollywoodism?

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Gene C - 12-02-2012 02:56 PM

Chase had arived at his aniti slavery positions earlier than Lincoln, was a Republican longer and never did quite get over loosing the Republican nomination to Lincoln. Kate Chase, who was very close to her father, wanted her father to be President as much as he did. She also wanted to be the "first lady", which in part explains her rivalry with Mary Lincoln. They both believed they were better qualified than the Lincolns to be president. Chase also was more in line with the radical republican views than Lincoln. Kate apparently married for money, her husband (Senator William Sprague from RI) while rich, was an alcholic, a philanderer, and invested his money poorly, she also had a relationship with Rosco Conkling. Their marriage ended in divorce.
She was attractive, well educated, and active in the social life in Washington. If only she had used her influence in a more positive direction

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Mark MacKenzie - 12-02-2012 04:46 PM

Laurie, I think according to the Donald book that Chase was lining himself up for the Presidential nomination for '64 and feeding the media with stories of incompetence within the cabinet. Stories of Seward's chronic absence, Lincoln's feet on the table backwoods story telling fool, corruption etc. Lincoln played him perfectly I think by confronting him in front of Seward and the investigators so that Chase, if he disavowed his statements, which he did, proved himself to be a liar. If he stood by his statements he would have proved himself a traitor to the party and lost great political capital.

Seward offered his resignation not because he felt he had done any wrong, but because he didn't wish to be another problem for the President. Chase offered his because he was embarrassed and caught red handed (is this a native American slur? I hope not...never occurred to me.) Lincoln accepted neither with his two pumpkin analogy which Chase I am sure would have hated. When Lincoln later accepted Chase's resignation, he appointed him to be Chief Justice which effectively pushed him out of the running for President.

I think this is correct but I am a little fuzzy on detail.

I was surprised in the movie which was 1865 that the cabinet would speak so insolently to Lincoln, at one point accusing his actions as tyrannical. I am not sure who the member was.

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Mark MacKenzie - 12-02-2012 06:59 PM

One point about "White House." Didn't Lincoln when packing his trunks in Springfield write "A. Lincoln White House" as the address?

Another about Chase... When the first paper money was printed, Chase had his portrait used not Lincoln's. Advertising.

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - L Verge - 12-02-2012 07:21 PM

Thanks all for edumacating me on dirty political tricks that occurred even then. Has there ever been a book written on dirty tricks in U.S. politics from 1800 on?

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Hess1865 - 12-02-2012 09:25 PM

I heard that in later life Kate Chase Sprague was basically flat broke and died basically homeless.
So many stories float around about her-I also heard Mr Sprague chased [pardon the pun!] Roscoe Conkling off his property with a shotgun when he caught him with her!!
Any real truth to all this??

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Gene C - 12-02-2012 11:40 PM

(12-02-2012 07:21 PM)L Verge Wrote:  Thanks all for edumacating me on dirty political tricks that occurred even then. Has there ever been a book written on dirty tricks in U.S. politics from 1800 on?

Let me give you a quote from the Bible which was really about all the things Jesus did. Below is the out of context statement from the Apostle John .
..... If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." (John 21:35) Angel

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Christine - 12-03-2012 01:41 AM

I just finished Team of Rivals and was mesmerized with it - even read it while walking on the treadmill! I have always admired Lincoln as a man, but I came to admire him as a politician. He had a rare gift (which I think politicians today could learn from) for building consensus, compromise, and overlooking another's personal attacks in favor of the greater good of keeping the Union intact. All of his life Lincoln was able to turn enemies into friends, because he listened and respected other people.

Chase burned for the presidency, and Lincoln knew it, but put up with him because there was no one else who had his talents and gifts for raising funds to support the war effort. Chase was a baby, and when he didn't think he was being listened to he pouted. He backstabbed, and manipulated, and connived, and lied. And when called on it he tendered his resignation again and again and again. And again and again and again Lincoln soothed his ruffled feathers because he needed him.

According to the book, (and shown in the film) Lincoln used his stories to teach lessons - much as Christ taught parables in the Bible - using simple illustrations from real life that made complex ideas more concrete. He was a master at storytelling.

I wish the film would have shown the Stanton/Lincoln relationship more clearly. To me, watching the movie, it appeared that Stanton disliked Lincoln, but I don't think that is true - they complimented each other's strengths/weaknesses and respected and admired each other.

One of the most emotional parts of the book for me involved Stanton's frustration with Lincoln's merciful pardoning of deserters - Stanton felt that the military needed rules to prevent anarchy, but Lincoln felt that many mistakes should be forgiven - "Lincoln looked for any "any good excuse for saving a man's life." When he found one, he said, "I go to bed happy as I think how joyous the signing of my name will make him and his family and his friends."

We always hear that Stanton was a hard man and see him usually portrayed that way, but Kearns Goodwin writes this: "Stanton would not allow himself such leniency. A clerk recalled finding Stanton one night in his office, "The mother, wife, and children of a soldier who had been condemned to be shot as a deserter, on their knees before him pleading for the life of their loved one. He listened standing, in cold and austere silence, and at the end of their heart-breaking sobs and prayers answered briefly that the man must die. The crushed and despairing little family left and Mr. Stanton turned, apparently unmoved, and walked into his private room." The clerk thought Stanton an unfeeling tyrant, until he discovered him moments later, "leaning over a desk, his face buried in his hands and his heavy frame shaking with sobs. 'God help me to do my duty; God help me to do my duty!' he was repeating in a low wail of anguish." On such occasions, when Stanton felt he could not afford to set a precedent, he must have been secretly relieved that the President had the ultimate authority."

I tried to read that passage out loud to my husband and was unable to without crying. I just can't even begin to imagine the horror these men faced every day.

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Laurie Verge - 12-03-2012 10:10 AM

What a moving post, Christine. Thank you from someone who has not read Team of Rivals, but who has always had a soft spot for Stanton, despite his warts.

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - Mark MacKenzie - 12-03-2012 10:19 AM

Now he belongs to the... angels? ages? Which is it? Is it one of those things we will never know?

RE: Lincoln Movie - Your Reviews - RJNorton - 12-03-2012 10:39 AM

Good morning, Mark. Please go here for a variety of opinions.