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Lincoln and the Thirteenth Amendment
02-09-2016, 11:51 AM (This post was last modified: 02-09-2016 11:57 AM by David Lockmiller.)
Post: #31
RE: Lincoln and the Thirteenth Amendment
(02-01-2016 12:55 PM)Christian Wrote:  Today is National Freedom Day, commemorating the anniversary of Lincoln's signing of the Thirteenth Amendment resolution (constitutionally he did not need to do so). This program at Lincoln's Cottage, aired on C-SPAN last Sunday, features me talking about Lincoln and the Thirteenth Amendment (the subject of my new book) as well as great speeches by Edna Greene Medford and George Rutherglen about other aspects of the amendment. Hope you enjoy it (and visit Lincoln's Cottage if you can)!

http://www.c-span.org/video/?401809-1/13...ndment-150

Professor Samito, in the question and answer session following your speech, you made comments regarding the historical accuracy of a number of quotes and scenes in Spielberg’s “Lincoln” movie. At 1:21:46 into the video, you state this conclusion: “So, unfortunately, the movie, a lot of times, does use historical source. The problem is that you look under the hood and you realize that the historical source is wrong, or is published forty years later and there is no corroborating evidence or anything like that.”

There is one very important scene from both the movie and the movie trailer upon which you do not make a comment. This is the scene at the theater in which Mary Todd Lincoln severely chastises Lincoln for his failure to secure passage by Congress of the Thirteenth Amendment resolution.

Would you please comment on the source and historical accuracy of this scene from the movie?

It is my opinion that this movie scene is a complete fabrication by the film’s award-winning playwright, Tony Kushner, and does a great historical disservice to the well-deserved public reputation of President Abraham Lincoln. For his work, Mr. Kushner received a National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in 2013.

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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02-09-2016, 01:48 PM
Post: #32
RE: Lincoln and the Thirteenth Amendment
(02-09-2016 11:51 AM)David Lockmiller Wrote:  
(02-01-2016 12:55 PM)Christian Wrote:  Today is National Freedom Day, commemorating the anniversary of Lincoln's signing of the Thirteenth Amendment resolution (constitutionally he did not need to do so). This program at Lincoln's Cottage, aired on C-SPAN last Sunday, features me talking about Lincoln and the Thirteenth Amendment (the subject of my new book) as well as great speeches by Edna Greene Medford and George Rutherglen about other aspects of the amendment. Hope you enjoy it (and visit Lincoln's Cottage if you can)!

http://www.c-span.org/video/?401809-1/13...ndment-150



Professor Samito, in the question and answer session following your speech, you made comments regarding the historical accuracy of a number of quotes and scenes in Spielberg’s “Lincoln” movie. At 1:21:46 into the video, you state this conclusion: “So, unfortunately, the movie, a lot of times, does use historical source. The problem is that you look under the hood and you realize that the historical source is wrong, or is published forty years later and there is no corroborating evidence or anything like that.”

There is one very important scene from both the movie and the movie trailer upon which you do not make a comment. This is the scene at the theater in which Mary Todd Lincoln severely chastises Lincoln for his failure to secure passage by Congress of the Thirteenth Amendment resolution.

Would you please comment on the source and historical accuracy of this scene from the movie?

It is my opinion that this movie scene is a complete fabrication by the film’s award-winning playwright, Tony Kushner, and does a great historical disservice to the well-deserved public reputation of President Abraham Lincoln. For his work, Mr. Kushner received a National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in 2013.

I think you're referring to the scene where she says, "You will answer to me" and I think that it's a dramatic license and didn't happen in reality.
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02-10-2016, 04:04 PM
Post: #33
RE: Lincoln and the Thirteenth Amendment
(02-09-2016 01:48 PM)Christian Wrote:  
(02-09-2016 11:51 AM)David Lockmiller Wrote:  There is one very important scene from both the movie and the movie trailer upon which you do not make a comment. This is the scene at the theater in which Mary Todd Lincoln severely chastises Lincoln for his failure to secure passage by Congress of the Thirteenth Amendment resolution.

Would you please comment on the source and historical accuracy of this scene from the movie?

It is my opinion that this movie scene is a complete fabrication by the film’s award-winning playwright, Tony Kushner, and does a great historical disservice to the well-deserved public reputation of President Abraham Lincoln. For his work, Mr. Kushner received a National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in 2013.

I think you're referring to the scene where she says, "You will answer to me" and I think that it's a dramatic license and didn't happen in reality.

I am of the opinion that "dramatic licenses" should not be issued to people who are presumably making historically accurate movies about real people, especially Abraham Lincoln.

Leslie Stahl in her national 60 Minutes broadcast to millions of Americans on the subject of the "Lincoln" movie began her presentation with these words: "The film is filled with things about our 16th President that we, who are not Lincoln scholars, did not know."

One day Noah Brooks, a newspaperman, found Lincoln alone in a forest on the Virginia side of the Potomac. He was standing on the stump of a tree, the better to view the scenery. He called Brook's attention to some of the more subtle aspects of the landscape; then he said: "I like trees best when they're not in leaf and you can study their anatomy. Look at the delicate firm outline of that leafless tree against the skyline. And see!" -- pointing to the network of shadows cast by the branches on the snow -- "that's the profile of the tree."

The memory of this silhouette on the snow remained with Lincoln, for the next day, when he was having a discussion with someone about the difference between character and reputation, he said in Brook's hearing: "Perhaps a man's character is like the shadown it casts. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing."

The point of this story is that for the millions of Americans who have seen the "Lincoln" movie, these historical scenes define "what they think of [Mr. Lincoln's character]." As Leslie Stahl said: "The film is filled with things about our 16th President that we, who are not Lincoln scholars, did not know."

I believe that the "Lincoln" movie is a grossly distorted "shadow" of Lincoln's true character.

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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02-11-2016, 01:16 PM
Post: #34
RE: Lincoln and the Thirteenth Amendment
I was reviewing the postings that have been made recently on the question in bold immediately below. The posting was made by Rob Wick on February 9, 2016. I have done a little editing upon the posting.

RE: What Will You Do For Lincoln's Day?

I have to say I'm not as sentimental on the idea of Lincoln Day speeches as some may be.

While doing research several years ago, I came across a reel of microfilm that contained several different Lincoln Day speeches given at various times around the country. Most of them were hagiographical in nature and told very little that a person would find of historical value. Most of them were of the nature "Lincoln was great."

While not necessarily and totally injurious to a real understanding of Lincoln, they were generally trite and full of misinformation that has since seeped into the public mind. Those speeches remind me of the speech that Ronald Reagan gave in 1992 when he gave several bogus lines supposedly uttered by Lincoln but in reality written by the Rev. William John Henry Boetcker.

I obviously don't think honoring Lincoln on his birthday is a bad thing . . . , but I think many of those speeches given in the past did far more harm to Lincoln's memory than forgetting about him ever would.

Best
Rob
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Imagination is the only key to the future. Without it none exists - with it all things are possible. .
--Ida Tarbell

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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02-11-2016, 01:29 PM
Post: #35
RE: Lincoln and the Thirteenth Amendment
Well, I suppose all I can say is that I hope the movie generated enough interest in the topic to make people want to read my book and learn what the movie got right, what it got wrong, and where it relied on a source but without interrogating it for accuracy...
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02-12-2016, 04:22 PM
Post: #36
RE: Lincoln and the Thirteenth Amendment
(02-11-2016 01:29 PM)Christian Wrote:  Well, I suppose all I can say is that I hope the movie generated enough interest in the topic to make people want to read my book and learn what the movie got right, what it got wrong, and where it relied on a source but without interrogating it for accuracy...

The signature line for my posts reads as follows: “So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history.” (Plutarch, Lives, Pericles, page 194, from “Familiar Quotations, John Bartlett,” Little, Brown and Company, 1951, page 1112).

You referenced in your question and answer session following your recent speech at the Lincoln cottage examples of dubious historical veracity from the movie “Lincoln.” You made particular reference to a historical contribution made by Senator John B. Alley in “Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln by Distinguished Men of His Time,” Allen Thorndike Rice, 1888, pp. 573-591. He did make some interesting observations regarding the character of Abraham Lincoln. In one passage at page 577, Senator Alley said: “In small and unimportant matters, Mr. Lincoln was so yielding that many thought his excessive amiability was born of weakness. But, in matters of vital importance, he was as firm as a rock.” On page 578, Senator Alley also stated: “No man was ever more thoroughly imbued with the conviction of the wickedness and cruelty of slavery than Mr. Lincoln.”

The Senator Alley text with which you object is contained on pages 585-86. However, it would appear that at least one highly-respected Lincoln scholar and authority, Doris Kearns Goodwin, decidedly disagrees with you.

“[Lincoln] assigned two of his allies in the House to deliver the votes of two wavering members. When they asked how to proceed, he said, ‘I am President of the United States, clothed with great power. The abolition of slavery by constitutional provision settles the fate, for all coming time, not only of the millions now in bondage, but of unborn millions to come—a measure of such importance that those two votes must be procured. I leave it to you to determine how it shall be done; but remember that I am President of the United States, clothed with immense power, and I expect you to procure those votes.’ It was clear to his emissaries that his powers extended to plum assignments, pardons, campaign contributions, and government jobs for relatives and friends of faithful members. Brooklyn Democrat Moses F. Odell agreed to change his vote; when the session ended, he was given the lucrative post of navy agent in New York. Elizabeth Blair noted that her father had successfully joined in the lobbying effort, persuading several members.” (“Team of Rivals,” page 687)

Also in confirmation of just how important the securing of even a single vote on this issue was to Lincoln, there are the two following examples, with greater historical credence than that provided by Senator Alley, from the “Team of Rivals” book at pages 687 and 688.

“Congressman James M. Ashley of Ohio reintroduced the measure into the House on January 6, 1865. . . . Ashley learned that the Camden & Amboy Railroad could secure the vote of two New Jersey Democrats if Senator Sumner could be convinced to postpone a bill he had introduced to end the monopoly the railroad enjoyed. Unable to move Sumner, Ashley asked Lincoln to intervene. Lincoln regretfully replied that he could “do nothing with Mr. Sumner in these matters,” and feared if he tried, Sumner “would be all the more resolute.” (AL, quoted in JGN memorandum, January 18, 1865, in “Nicolay, With Lincoln in the White House,” pp. 171, 257 n11.)

“Both sides knew that the outcome would be decided by the thinnest of margins. ‘We are like whalers,’ Lincoln observed, ‘who have been long on a chase: we have at last got the harpoon into the monster, but we must now look how we steer, or with one ‘flop’ of his tail he will send us all into eternity.’ (AL, quoted in Nicolay and Hay, “Abraham Lincoln: A History,” p. 74.) On the morning of the scheduled vote, Ashley feared that the entire effort would collapse. Rumors circulated that Confederate Peace Commissioners were on the way to Washington or had already arrive in the capital. ‘If it is true,’ Ashley urgently wrote to the president, ‘I fear we shall [lose] the bill.’ The Democratic leadership would prevail upon wavering party members, arguing that the amendment would lead the commissioners to abort the peace talks. ‘Please authorize me to contradict it, if not true,’ Ashley entreated.

‘So far as I know,’ Lincoln promptly replied, ‘there are no peace Commissioners in the City, or likely to be in it.’ Ashley later learned that Lincoln, in fact, had been informed that three Peace Commissioners were en route to Fort Monroe, but he could honestly, if insincerely, claim that no commissioners were in the capital city. Without this cunning evasion, Ashley believe, ‘the proposed amendment would have failed.’”

Finally came the vote in the House of Representatives: “The floor was in tumult when Speaker Colfax stood to announce the final tally. His voice shaking, he said, ‘On the passage of the Joint Resolution to amend the Constitution of the United States the ayes have 119, the noes 56. The constitutional majority of two thirds having voted in the affirmative, the Joint Resolution has passed.” Without the five Democrats who had changed their votes, the amendment would have lost.” (“Team of Rivals,” page 689.)

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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02-12-2016, 04:30 PM
Post: #37
RE: Lincoln and the Thirteenth Amendment
(02-12-2016 04:22 PM)David Lockmiller Wrote:  
(02-11-2016 01:29 PM)Christian Wrote:  Well, I suppose all I can say is that I hope the movie generated enough interest in the topic to make people want to read my book and learn what the movie got right, what it got wrong, and where it relied on a source but without interrogating it for accuracy...

The signature line for my posts reads as follows: “So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history.” (Plutarch, Lives, Pericles, page 194, from “Familiar Quotations, John Bartlett,” Little, Brown and Company, 1951, page 1112).

You referenced in your question and answer session following your recent speech at the Lincoln cottage examples of dubious historical veracity from the movie “Lincoln.” You made particular reference to a historical contribution made by Senator John B. Alley in “Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln by Distinguished Men of His Time,” Allen Thorndike Rice, 1888, pp. 573-591. He did make some interesting observations regarding the character of Abraham Lincoln. In one passage at page 577, Senator Alley said: “In small and unimportant matters, Mr. Lincoln was so yielding that many thought his excessive amiability was born of weakness. But, in matters of vital importance, he was as firm as a rock.” On page 578, Senator Alley also stated: “No man was ever more thoroughly imbued with the conviction of the wickedness and cruelty of slavery than Mr. Lincoln.”

The Senator Alley text with which you object is contained on pages 585-86. However, it would appear that at least one highly-respected Lincoln scholar and authority, Doris Kearns Goodwin, decidedly disagrees with you.

“[Lincoln] assigned two of his allies in the House to deliver the votes of two wavering members. When they asked how to proceed, he said, ‘I am President of the United States, clothed with great power. The abolition of slavery by constitutional provision settles the fate, for all coming time, not only of the millions now in bondage, but of unborn millions to come—a measure of such importance that those two votes must be procured. I leave it to you to determine how it shall be done; but remember that I am President of the United States, clothed with immense power, and I expect you to procure those votes.’ It was clear to his emissaries that his powers extended to plum assignments, pardons, campaign contributions, and government jobs for relatives and friends of faithful members. Brooklyn Democrat Moses F. Odell agreed to change his vote; when the session ended, he was given the lucrative post of navy agent in New York. Elizabeth Blair noted that her father had successfully joined in the lobbying effort, persuading several members.” (“Team of Rivals,” page 687)

Also in confirmation of just how important the securing of even a single vote on this issue was to Lincoln, there are the two following examples, with greater historical credence than that provided by Senator Alley, from the “Team of Rivals” book at pages 687 and 688.

“Congressman James M. Ashley of Ohio reintroduced the measure into the House on January 6, 1865. . . . Ashley learned that the Camden & Amboy Railroad could secure the vote of two New Jersey Democrats if Senator Sumner could be convinced to postpone a bill he had introduced to end the monopoly the railroad enjoyed. Unable to move Sumner, Ashley asked Lincoln to intervene. Lincoln regretfully replied that he could “do nothing with Mr. Sumner in these matters,” and feared if he tried, Sumner “would be all the more resolute.” (AL, quoted in JGN memorandum, January 18, 1865, in “Nicolay, With Lincoln in the White House,” pp. 171, 257 n11.)

“Both sides knew that the outcome would be decided by the thinnest of margins. ‘We are like whalers,’ Lincoln observed, ‘who have been long on a chase: we have at last got the harpoon into the monster, but we must now look how we steer, or with one ‘flop’ of his tail he will send us all into eternity.’ (AL, quoted in Nicolay and Hay, “Abraham Lincoln: A History,” p. 74.) On the morning of the scheduled vote, Ashley feared that the entire effort would collapse. Rumors circulated that Confederate Peace Commissioners were on the way to Washington or had already arrive in the capital. ‘If it is true,’ Ashley urgently wrote to the president, ‘I fear we shall [lose] the bill.’ The Democratic leadership would prevail upon wavering party members, arguing that the amendment would lead the commissioners to abort the peace talks. ‘Please authorize me to contradict it, if not true,’ Ashley entreated.

‘So far as I know,’ Lincoln promptly replied, ‘there are no peace Commissioners in the City, or likely to be in it.’ Ashley later learned that Lincoln, in fact, had been informed that three Peace Commissioners were en route to Fort Monroe, but he could honestly, if insincerely, claim that no commissioners were in the capital city. Without this cunning evasion, Ashley believe, ‘the proposed amendment would have failed.’”

Finally came the vote in the House of Representatives: “The floor was in tumult when Speaker Colfax stood to announce the final tally. His voice shaking, he said, ‘On the passage of the Joint Resolution to amend the Constitution of the United States the ayes have 119, the noes 56. The constitutional majority of two thirds having voted in the affirmative, the Joint Resolution has passed.” Without the five Democrats who had changed their votes, the amendment would have lost.” (“Team of Rivals,” page 689.)

Goodwin made several errors. As to the clothed with great power quote: Besides the fact that Lincoln likely never would have been so indiscreet in implying promises in exchange for votes, the entire exchange seems overly dramatic and out of character. It is hard to imagine Lincoln thundering an almost-threatening statement such as this one. Moreover, the same collection of reminiscences about Lincoln in which Alley’s account appears includes one from Schuyler Colfax, who said of Lincoln’s use of pardons, “No man clothed with such vast power ever wielded it more tenderly and more forbearingly.” Thus, we see an almost verbatim use of the motif given in Alley’s account. As to Moses F. Odell, historians have inaccurately identified appointments for him and another lame duck Democrat, George H. Yeaman, as quid pro quo actions for their votes on the amendment. President Johnson, not Lincoln, nominated Yeaman to be minister to Denmark in December 1865. Johnson had given Odell a commission for naval agent for the port of New York during the Senate recess and re-nominated him once the Senate was back in session. The Senate confirmed both appointments. Odell had joined three other Democrats to vote for the amendment in June 1864 so he didn't change his vote. Lincoln did use the carefully worded message to Ashley regarding peace commissioners. The NJ railroad matter is a little complicated but Lincoln didn't intervene - I discuss all that in my book.
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