I saw Abraham Lincoln, not in person, of course, but in the new movie, Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg and staring Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln. I was expecting a drama about the life of Lincoln, but this was not that.
Lincoln is rather the story about the fight to get the 13th Constitutional Amendment that made slavery illegal in the United States, passed by the House of Representatives near the end of the Civil War. The amendment had already been passed by the Senate, but the House had resisted.
Lincoln was convinced that if the amendment didn’t pass and get approved by the states, that slavery would remain in America. So Lincoln used every tool that he could in an effort to persuade enough Democrats to vote with the Republicans (who favored the amendment) to get a two-thirds majority.
This movie also includes two of my Top Ten Greatest Americans – Representative Thaddeus Stevens and Senator Charles Sumner, two men who boldly and courageously stood against the prevailing racists views of the time and tirelessly spoke out for not only ending slavery, but also for “liberty and justice (and equal rights) for all.’ They were the political leaders of the abolitionist movement with the goal to end slavery and to insure equal rights for African Americans.
Even Abraham Lincoln didn’t go that far. He wanted slavery ended, but resisted the idea equal rights for blacks. Lincoln preferred colonization (sending blacks back to Africa).
Looking back, it is obvious that Stevens and Sumner were in the right. How did the people of the time period, hold so strongly to the racist idea that blacks were subhuman and that it was alright to cruelly mistreat and abuse them? And how did a very few people (like Stevens and Sumner) have the courage to oppose the majority of Americans?
Lincoln will touch your heart, make you think, and teach you some very important American history. Go see it if you can.