Another Big Lie in the Spielberg Lincoln Movie
February 6, 2013
I have written of how the theme of Steven Spielberg’s movie "Lincoln" — that Abe used his "political genius" to get the Thirteenth Amendment through Congress — is one big lie. I quoted David Donald, the preeminent mainstream Lincoln scholar of our time, as writing in his biography of Lincoln that Abe barely lifted a finger in the effort. In fact, he literally refused to assist the abolitionists in Congress when they requested his help. Even worse, Lincoln DID work mightily to get a first Thirteenth Amendment passed in 1861 — the "Corwin Amendment" that would have prohibited the federal government from ever interfering with Southern slavery.
Another gross historical inaccuracy in the "Lincoln" movie that was recently brought to my attention is a scene where it is said that Connecticut congressmen voted against the Thirteenth Amendment. Congressman Joe Courtney of Connecticut saw the movie and smelled a rat, so he asked the Congressional Research Service to look into it. They informed him that all four members of Congress from Connecticut voted YES.
In other words, the votes were already there. There was no need for Abe to use his "political genius" to persuade them, as is argued by Doris Kearns-Goodwin, Spielberg’s historical advisor, in her book upon which the movie is based. (Hat tip to Thomas Moore).