Skip to comments.Spielberg's Lincoln Movie
Posted on 11/16/2012 7:27:33 AM PST by BobNative
New Movie Propagates Lincoln Historical Myths
If you are planning to see the new, Steven Spielberg directed, Lincoln movie you might want to invest in an accurate history book instead. While it is successfully dramatic, the movie rehashes several 150 year old myths about the Lincoln presidency and Americas most horrible war. First, to the movies credit, the script avoids a key, blatant lie that is currently being taught throughout American public schools today. The script focuses correctly on explaining how slaves were freed by the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, not the Emancipation Proclamation. Abraham Lincolns proclamation did not apply to any northern states. It only applied to southern territory that was not under control of the Union. Therefore, it was ignored by the Confederacy too. The original proclamation of September 22, 1862, even stated that all southern states could keep their slaves if they returned to the Union by January 1, 1863.
LINCOLN AND SLAVERY: Although properly focused, the movie misleads its audience into believing that Abraham Lincoln was consumed with the thought of freeing slaves. In reality, Lincoln was a white segregationist from Illinois, whose state Constitution had banned permanent black residents since 1848. Lincoln stated repeatedly in his 1861 inaugural address, his 1862 Horace Greely letter and other times during and before the war that his only intent was to preserve the union not free slaves. As a lawyer, Lincoln actually represented Robert Matson, a slave owner who wanted his part-time seasonal slaves returned to him. In 1847, Mr. Lincoln took his case all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court where he lost. Throughout his presidency, Lincoln made repeated attempts to colonize all African Americans beginning in 1862 with his Commissioner of Emigration, James Mitchell, the former leader of the American Colonization Society. In April of 1865, well after Congress passed the 13th Amendment and just before his death, Mr. Lincoln was still discussing his colonization plans with Union Army General, Benjamin Butler.
LINCOLN AND THE WAR: The movie aptly shows graphic scenes depicting some of the many horrendous battles in the appalling war against Southern independence where 620,000 Americans died, almost as many Americans killed as in all other wars combined. But the script serves to conceal Lincolns role in instigating the war. Lincoln refused to meet with Confederate commissioners who came to Washington to negotiate a peaceful separation in February of 1861. He did not seek a constitutionally required declaration of war from Congress before initiating the war or petition the U.S. Supreme Court for a ruling as to the legality of secession according to the rights of the states under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. He ignored the vast majority opinion of his own cabinet and decided to invade Virginia on July 21, 1861 over objections of his military commanders, Generals Winfield Scott and Irwin McDowell. At that time, the Union had never suffered a single casualty from the Confederate military, which had committed no hostilities against the Union for over three months prior to the invasion. The script tends to ignore these well established, largely suppressed facts and imply that Mr. Lincoln had no choice but war.
CAUSES OF LINCOLNS WAR: The script also tends to deceive the audience into believing that slavery was the major cause of the war. It avoids the issues of Constitutional rights that Jefferson Davis so frequently wrote about and the excessive tariffs that caused South Carolina to initially threaten to secede 30 years earlier. Given that just over 15% of southerners owned slaves, it should be obvious that 85% of southerners were not fighting for the right of the minority 15% to own slaves. Although northern soldiers fought to preserve the union as Lincoln demanded, southern concerns about Constitutional rights and excessive taxation were proven to be justified. After southerners elected state representatives, who voted democratically to secede and unanimously elected Jefferson Davis as their President, they were then forced to fight to protect their homes, families and property from continual invasions. Today, almost all of us are victims of the uncontrollable federal government and taxing excesses that were spawned by President Lincolns war.
LINCOLN AND THE PEOPLE: The script further misleads the audience into believing that Lincoln was a beloved populist although with 39.8% of the vote, he was the most unpopular president ever elected. In one scene, Sally Fields, who plays Mary Todd Lincoln, remarks that: No one has ever been loved so much by the people She obviously was not referring to southerners since they were victimized by death and destruction from dozens of invasions. She also could not have been referring to the 30,000 or so northerners who were imprisoned without trial for opposing the invasion of the south. Among them, 30 Maryland legislators were imprisoned to keep the state from voting to secede and thus preventing the war by encircling Washington D.C. with Confederate states. Hundreds of newspaper editors, publishers and citizens were also imprisoned for publicly opposing the invasion. Imprisoned notables include Frances Key Howard, grandson of star spangled banner author, Francis Scott Key and George Armistead Appleton, grandson of Major George Armistead, who commanded Fort McHenry during the key victory in the war of 1812.
LINCOLN AND HUMANITY: The movie theme seems to purposely exaggerate Abraham Lincolns concern for slaves to falsely portray him as a great humanitarian. In another dramatic scene, Daniel Day Lewis, who plays Lincoln, asks: Shall we stop this bleeding? This line is acutely ironic since it was Lincoln who initiated the bleeding for millions of Americans. Mr. Lincoln personally directed key activities of the Union Army that repeatedly attacked civilian populations. The army burned hundreds of homes in South Carolina, destroyed dozens of farms and killed thousands of head of cattle in the Shenandoah Valley, burned dozens of cities and towns across Georgia, pillaged civilian homes in Fredricksburg, Virginia, and fired cannon shells into the towns of Vicksburg, Mississippi and Petersburg, Virginia for months. These unprecedented atrocities against American citizens are documented in War Crimes Against Southern Civilians by Walter Brian Cisco.
CONCLUSION: The movie leaves a burning question as to why Steven Spielberg chose to continue the historical glorification of Abraham Lincoln while covering up the horrible truths about his administration and concealing the source of the greatest atrocities ever committed against American citizens. The real facts must have been uncovered given the historical research that was performed. Did Mr. Spielbergs lust for money and a feel good plot far outweigh his desire to present the full truth? We may never know the answer to such questions. In the meantime, if you are simply looking for dramatic entertainment that will make you comfortable by filling your Kool-Aid cup with propaganda, this movie might be for you. If, on the other hand, you expect any historical documentary to inform you accurately about past events, then your admission fee would be better spent on obtaining an accurate historical education of the Lincoln administration by reading a book such as Professor Thomas DiLorenzos The Real Lincoln.
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The man has written US history books that have wound up on the NYT bestseller lists. He is highly thought of here on these boards and acknowledged to be one of the nation’s best conservative historians. Although I agree that more in depth discussion is in order I think his opinion should not be dismissed lightly. What, pray tell, are your qualifications?
AN ORDINANCE to dissolve the union between the State of South Carolina and other States united with her under the compact entitled “The Constitution of the United States of America.”
We, the people of the State of South Carolina, in convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, That the ordinance adopted by us in convention on the twenty-third day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and also all acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly of this State ratifying amendments of the said Constitution, are hereby repealed; and that the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of the “United States of America,” is hereby dissolved.
Done at Charleston the twentieth day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty.
Source: Official Records, Ser. IV, vol. 1, p. 1.
I was hoping you would weigh in. Have you seen the movie?
Not yet. I did see “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” which was pretty good. I’ll get to this. My gripe though is that the film looks at, I think, the wrong period of Lincoln’s life. It should have covered 1862-1864.
Lincoln was a Statist. Nuff said.
Slavery was dying a slow death and it would have gone away. That being said, it was a good thing. However, ask anyone from SC about the Civil War and they will tell you, “We did not want a bunch of Yankees telling us what to do!”
Slavery was made legal again in the 1960s.
Would anyone condone a person who sent the equivalent of 8,000,000 men today to death for ant reason short of mass murder?
Lincoln was a foul human being who like Obama could not accept people who did not bow down to him. He suspended habeus corpus illegally, instituted an income tax illegally, and directed atrocities to be committed against the southern people. He condone the rape of southern women by Sherman’s army. He should be considered a war criminal rather than an honored President. But, winners get to spin their own truths. Just ask Obama.
No, but I have noticed how otherwise good FReepers who are also Lost Cause Losers default to libtard-type reasoning when it comes to these discussions.
(To the tune of John Brown's Body)
"We'll hang Jeff Davis from a sour apple tree..."
And the losers get to write their mythologies.
By that logic, it makes no sense that the republican party is fighting to keep taxes low on the top 1% -- since almost ALL of us conservatives do NOT FALL into that top 1%. So clearly conservatives aren't fighting to stop tax increases.
And if makes no sense that liberal men fight for abortion, since none of them will ever get an abortion. So they must not be fighting for abortion.
And since 49 states of us don't live in Arizona, certainly none of us could be fighting to uphold Arizona's illegal immigration laws. We don't have anything to do with them....
If your state's economy was based on coal mining, you might well fight for the rights of coal users, even though you don't use coal, or mine coal. Likewise, the states whose economy was based on slavery would fight for slavery, even though most of the individuals in that state did not personally own slaves.
"I think slavery is wrong, morally, and politically. I desire that it should be no further spread in these United States, and I should not object if it should gradually terminate in the whole Union." The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume III, "Speech at Cincinnati, Ohio" (September 17, 1859), p. 440.
"Now, I confess myself as belonging to that class in the country who contemplate slavery as a moral, social and political evil, having due regard for its actual existence amongst us and the difficulties of getting rid of it in any satisfactory way, and to all the constitutional obligations which have been thrown about it; but, nevertheless, desire a policy that looks to the prevention of it as a wrong, and looks hopefully to the time when as a wrong it may come to an end." The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume III, "Lincoln-Douglas Debate at Galesburg" (October 7, 1858), p. 226.
"I have always hated slavery, I think as much as any abolitionist." The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume II, "Speech at Chicago, Illinois" (July 10, 1858), p. 492.
"I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world." The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume II, "Speech at Peoria, Illinois" (October 16, 1854), p. 255.
I want to see Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. I presume that it isn’t intended to provide much useful history information. I just like Vampire movies....
Wow. There’s an unbiased review of Lincoln. Not.
That is nonsense.
Only someone w/ Lincoln's moral authority could have seen the US through that crisis.
Nor was he himself spared from the death roll of heros.
Ending slavery in this country was a necessary step for our ultimate evolution, but the war was made inevitable by the southern slaveholders and no one else.
The war was started by the southern slaveholders and no one else.
I must respectfully disagree. I think that the matter is a little more complicated.
First, the Southern Democratic candidate in the 1860 election was John C Breckinridge of Kentucky. He had become a fervent States Rights advocate in the 1850s, but he owned no slaves (Bell of Tennessee, the candidate of the Constitutional Union Party, who owned slaves, attempted to make an issue of this fact, arguing that he could protect slavery better than someone who did not own any). If slavery is the only reason, then why are the Southern Democrats nominating someone who doesn’t own any?
Second, Virginia, at a secession convention, voted by a 2-to-1 margin on April 4, 1961, to not to secede. Fort Sumter is fired upon on April 12. Lincoln called for troops to be furnished by the non-seceded states on Apirl 15, and on April 17, the secesion convention voted to secede, subject to a state-wide referendum, which approved secession in May.
The status of slavery had not changed between April 4 and April 17. Virginia’s actions indicate that, while the central question, slavery in itself was not the only issue.
You are correct - no declaration of war was required. Lincoln went to great pains to frame the “Unpleasantness” as a rebellion, thereby, among other things, obviating the need to declare war.
No, you over-simplify the matter. Among the criticisms of Union generals McClellan and Buell was that they were soft on slavery and perhaps had intentions of restoring the Union to the status quo ante bellum. Some soldiers expressed dismay when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, arguing that they were fighting to preserve the Union rather than fighting to free the slaves (and they probably used a pejorative not acceptable in polite society).
Certainly as the war progressed, the overthrow of slavery gained importance.