Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lincoln: A Review

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, on Black Friday, my parents went to see the movie "Lincoln". President Lincoln became a person of admiration for me after completing my 8th grade US History project. I had been assigned to research and write a paper on Lincoln's presidency. The class focus was on the civil war and each student researched a different aspect of the culture during that time.

This post today is a review of the movie as well as thoughts on what we as a nation can learn from President Lincoln and his role in the passing of the 13th Amendment.

In terms of the characters I have to commend Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Field in their portrayals of the President and First Lady. The movie really showed how they related to each other as a couple and how that influenced Lincoln's drive to get the amendment past. Which leads me to one of the memorable quotes in the movie. Prior to January 31, 1865, Mary Todd Lincoln says to her husband, "You better make sure this amendment passes or you will have me to deal with." Made me think of that common phrase, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" Of the quotes in the movie, the following struck me the most. In parenthesis is the character that said the statement.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the House of Representatives. This is your house."
                   - William Seward (Republican House Leader) Spoken on January 31, 1865 to
                      the gallery that was predominantly African Americans.

"I don't know what the future holds for me and my people."
                    - First lady's assistant's response after Lincoln asked her what would she and
                      her family do after the13th Amendment is passed and they are a free people.

"It begins with Liberty."
                    - President Lincoln talking to two operators. This is Lincoln's conclusion on
                      how humanity should live derived from a geometry principle. Lincoln, in his
                      monologue quotes Euclid, "If two things are equal to the same thing, they are
                      equal to each other."

As I watched the movie I was struck by a lot of irony between 1865 and 2012 as well as the dramatic changes in the political parties from then until now. In 1865 the end to slavery was being fought for on the battle fields and in Congress, today people are fighting for equality under the law. The only difference is, and a good one I might add, is the fight for equality is in state government, federal government and the Supreme Court rather than on a battle field. It is important to remember that the battle field was the US and more specifically in Virginia and NC.

It is without doubt that the passage of the 13th Amendment dramatically changed the course of this country. What I admire about Lincoln was his willingness to stand for an unpopular cause even among his own party because, "It begins with Liberty".

As we approach a new year and new and returning representatives and senators come to Washington, we as a people of these United States should focus on Liberty. Liberty for all.

A final quote:

"Let's end this thing. No more punishment, liberality's for all"
- Lincoln @ the end of the Civil War; April 1865 
Dare I say this statement is an example of forgiveness and grace?