Lincoln is a 2012 American historical drama film directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as United States President Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. The film is based in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography of Lincoln, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, and covers the final four months of Lincoln’s life, focusing on the President’s efforts in January 1865 to have the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution passed by the United States House of Representatives.
Lincoln begins a year before the end of the civil war with the movie’s only battle scene. It’s a minute of the bloody, hand-to-hand combat at Jenkins’ Ferry, Arkansas. Then two black soldiers recall the battle while talking to Lincoln about the future of the Union. In January 1865, and United States President Abraham Lincoln had just started his second term in office as an extremely popular leader, especially among his supporters. However, the country is in disorder with the Civil War entering its fourth year and having taken the lives of many a soldier on both sides.
Lincoln believes that passing of the Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution; This would declare that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction”, would most importantly achieve something he strongly believed in, but also end the war since slavery was a large reason for it.
The Amendment already passed in the Senate, and was scheduled for vote in the House of Representatives at the end of the month. While he is assured of yes votes from his fellow Republicans, he and his team had to work hard under the radar to assure enough yes votes from Democrats, which will require compromise in other areas. But other factors may also come into play on the vote, such as the Confederate forces in the war issuing their own compromise to end the war but keep slavery.
Meanwhile, Lincoln also deals with hostile relationship with wife Mary Todd Lincoln and their latest situation in oldest son Robert leaving law school to enlist. From personal experience, President Lincoln is thought of as one of the most influential and best president throughout history. Abolishing slavery really put the nation on its path to unity and the superpower it is today. Even though throughout history after that historical event there has been several steps taken to further his actions to make black and whites and equal part f society, abolishing slavery was the largest and most influential step. After watching this film, it became evident that President Lincoln was an extremely well respected man and made the hard decisions that he knew wouldn’t be popular at the time because of how the country was structured. The film illustrated that Lincoln was wise beyond his years and knew that his decisions would impact the nation in a positive manner for the rest of time. President Lincoln’s leadership skills were evident and were the major theme in the film.
From the beginning of the movie, from his wife to his cabinet members, everyone was trying to convince him that getting rid of slavery wasn’t going to happen and he will lose the approval of his country by pushing the issue. Slavery in the United States was a way of life up to that point. Blacks were not considered equal and were looked at more as property than people. From the first President until Lincoln’s time everyone including the past presidents had slaves. Slaves were a major part of the economy because of the labor power that was being utilized.
Slaves were used as servants, worked in the fields for countless hours and used for everyday jobs that today are vital occupations. With the 13th Amendment, slaves would be freed of their unpaid work and would now have to be compensated for their time and would cause many people to lose money. Of course such an immense decision to change the entire culture of the country would be hated by a majority of the people. President Lincoln felt strongly about the issue and was looking at the big picture of the country, not the present, which is why he is considered one of the best presidents of all time.
Being a leader means not always making the popular decision. It’s making the hard decisions that are not always the popular one, but the one that will directly or indirectly benefit, in President Lincoln’s case, the country as a whole. Even in today’s society there is still racism and controversy between ethnicities. Until the 1950s, not too long ago, there was still segregation and blacks were not looked at as equals. After watching this movie, these themes really stood out and hit home about how far the country has come since President Lincoln made one of the most historical decisions of all time.
His leadership skills are evident throughout the course of the movie by being able to sway the decisions of both parties into standing by his decision and believing in him that the 13th Amendment was the right thing. I would absolutely recommend this movie to everyone, young or old, because of the history that’s behind it. The scene of the movie that really stood out was in the end of the film when the votes were being cast and the leader of the house asked to cast his vote.
He was called out by a Democrat that was against the amendment because it was an irregular occurrence for him to cast a vote but responded with, “This is a historical event. ” President Lincoln changed history and this country forever. Even though it took over a century to get to where we are as a country today and many major events occurring in between, President Lincoln was arguably in my opinion the indirect forefather of the civil rights movement and one of the most influential men in history.
Courtney from Study Moose
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