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"Lincoln" legal mistake
03-07-2013, 04:08 PM
Post: #37
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake

In the weeks and months following the release of the movie Lincoln, I read nearly all of the interviews that you cite in your comment above. Respectfully, I don't view any of them as supporting your argument that the movie is largely inaccurate.

Don't you think that, in evaluating a movie about a historical figure, some sense of proportionality should be used in determining whether the fudging of some facts does violence to the overall accuracy of the movie? Or are you saying that if a movie doesn't comport 100% with known facts or 100% with a particular historian's view of the facts, that it is automatically to be shunned?

Or are some facts more important than other facts? Are some facts mere trivia while others go more centrally to the story being told and the characters being depicted?

I would argue that, while all people are created equal, all facts are *not* created equally. Moreover, watching a trailer or two does *not* give any sort of sense of the accuracy of a particular historical film nor even a sense of how good the movie is as a piece of entertainment!

For example, if you'd seen the movie instead of just a couple of trailers, you'd know that the reason Mary Todd Lincoln whispers to her husband that he'd better get that 13th Amendment passed, or else, is that, in the movie, her paramount concern is keeping their son Robert from dying in battle. By this point in the movie, Robert had successfully lobbied to be allowed to serve. It was emphasized time and again in the movie, but not in the trailers, that the 13th Amendment could very well help the war come to an end. Many believed that the sooner the 13th Amendment passed Congress, the sooner the war would end.

In fact, a scene earlier in the movie has Mary telling the President that he was so loved by the people, which gave him such "power," that he should do something else with that power other than pushing for the 13th Amendment. (In the trailer, you see Mary talking about him being loved and having power, but you don't learn the context of her statement.)

What this means it that the movie does *not* show Mary having a particular passion for the 13th Amendment.

With regard to the importance to Lincoln of the 13th Amendment, vis-a-vis the Emancipation Proclamation, the movie does not suggest that Lincoln was not especially proud of the Proclamation. What the movie does accurately show is Lincoln explaining the legal basis for wanting the 13th Amendment to succeed. There has been plenty written on this subject; we don't need to go over all that here.

However, Lincoln's declaration in the movie that the Amendment was the "King's Cure" to the country's ills is something that his contemporaries recall him saying. I don't think that particular assertion raised any eyebrows among the community of Lincoln historians.

I remember wondering why, when I read the McPherson interview you reference, he made an issue out of Lincoln's swearing. Some contemporaries do remember Lincoln using the word "damned" on more than one occasion. "Damned" is not that far off from "goddamned." Even if it were qualitatively different, the point is that McPherson seems to have chosen to discount the recollections of contemporaries on this issue. Or maybe he's just forgotten.

Also, I was rather bemused at McPherson's statement in that same interview that Lincoln would never have tolerated a military man swearing in his presence, as swearing was prohibited by the Army. Here are my thoughts on that:

**If there was anything Lincoln was not, it was prudish, or sensitive to the propriety of someone else's choice of words. I'm sure you know that he hated formalities. He overlooked or didn't care about rudeness, hostility, insults, etc., etc. All he cared about was substance. Was so-and-so helping the Union cause? In my view, then, he would *not*, as McPherson claimed, chastise a soldier simply for using profanity in his presence.

**If swearing in the Army was as taboo as McPherson now contends, then why, in his recent book, Tried By War, did he write almost whimsically about General Philip Sheridan's profanity-laced leadership in some of the decisive battles late in the war? Perhaps McPherson forgot about this, too. (I have to say I was intrigued by this tidbit in the book and actually wanted more details!)

As for Michael Burlingame, I know that he contends that the Lincolns' marriage was basically Hell on Earth and that Mary Lincoln was just a horrible person and a terrible wife. But not all historians agree with him here! In fact, they tend to take a more balanced approach to evaluating the relationship of the Lincolns. So there wasn't necessarily a need in the Lincoln movie to show Mary being vicious or corrupt. But one thing that I think all historians agree on is that she was very mentally unstable. Her misdeeds and indiscretions could certainly be attributed to this instability; in fact, generally, this is what historians have done. And the movie did show some of this mental instability in the context of her exhibition of grief over the loss of Willie a full three years after his death.

But most of the concerns you've raised, David, seem to me to not be of central importance to the story told or the man depicted - if we're evaluating the movie with an eye on proportionality, that is. Therefore, my respectful conclusion is that you have not "proved" that the Lincoln movie is largely inaccurate.

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Messages In This Thread
"Lincoln" legal mistake - Lindsey - 02-05-2013, 10:52 PM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - RJNorton - 02-06-2013, 06:17 AM
RE: "Lincoln" movie criticisms - Gene C - 03-01-2013, 09:40 PM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - LincolnMan - 02-06-2013, 09:51 AM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - RJNorton - 02-06-2013, 10:33 AM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - HerbS - 02-06-2013, 10:43 AM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - HerbS - 02-06-2013, 05:19 PM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - Rob Wick - 02-06-2013, 07:51 PM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - RJNorton - 02-07-2013, 03:26 PM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - HerbS - 02-10-2013, 03:08 PM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - Jim Garrett - 02-14-2013, 07:06 AM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - ELCore - 02-18-2013, 08:23 PM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - RJNorton - 02-19-2013, 06:12 AM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - LincolnMan - 02-19-2013, 09:12 AM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - RJNorton - 03-02-2013, 06:10 AM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - HerbS - 03-02-2013, 10:41 AM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - LincolnMan - 03-02-2013, 06:25 PM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - L Verge - 03-02-2013, 08:28 PM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - LincolnMan - 03-03-2013, 08:21 AM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - Gene C - 03-03-2013, 10:20 AM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - LincolnMan - 03-03-2013, 10:42 AM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - Jim Page - 03-03-2013, 12:08 PM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - Liz Rosenthal - 03-07-2013 04:08 PM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - Gene C - 03-07-2013, 06:06 PM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - RJNorton - 01-20-2014, 02:43 PM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - Anita - 01-20-2014, 03:30 PM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - RJNorton - 01-20-2014, 04:06 PM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - L Verge - 01-20-2014, 03:36 PM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - RJNorton - 01-20-2014, 05:14 PM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - L Verge - 01-20-2014, 07:36 PM
RE: "Lincoln" legal mistake - RJNorton - 01-21-2014, 08:46 AM

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