The Civil War Connections Blog


Over the past holiday season my family and I went to see the new Lincoln movie, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as our 16th president. I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone who may not have seen it; however it is based on true events, so chances are you know how well Lincoln does in theaters – ha! Bad joke, I know – but I’ve been saving that one for the perfect moment. Anyways, the movie focuses on President Lincoln’s efforts to not only end the long-lasting Civil War, but also pass a 13th amendment to the US Constitution, banning slavery. Today, January 31st, is the anniversary of when that amendment was passed within the House of Representatives in 1865.[1]


Lincoln Movie Poster, accessed through Wikimedia.

Lincoln Movie Poster, accessed through Wikimedia.


Like I said, I don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone, but if you haven’t seen it I really do recommend it. It focuses on Lincoln in January of 1865, following his reelection as president but prior to his inauguration. When the war had first broken out, Lincoln argued that his main reason for being involved was to preserve the Union. As the war progressed, it became increasingly apparent that while this might have been one of Lincoln’s goals, the war was also over the issue of allowing slavery within not only the new states and territories being added to the Union, but also the existing states. Lincoln had previously attempted to pass the amendment, but while it made it through the Senate, it did not make it through the House of Representatives.


When the amendment resurfaced at the start of 1865, Lincoln believed that it was imperative that it be passed within a bipartisan Congress, so to provide the bill with the legitimacy of being approved by both Democrats and Republicans. The movie is also a fantastic suggestion of the overlapping role of Lincoln’s quest to pass the amendment while still attempting to negotiate peace with the Confederates. Lincoln suggests that this was an extremely trying process for Lincoln, and that his ability to negotiate peace with the Confederates would be removed if they were aware that he was attempting to pass this amendment. However, the movie also argues that Lincoln was aware that the war was drawing to an end, and if the war ended prior to the passing of the amendment, the citizens and Congress would not support the amendment if they didn’t think it would benefit bringing the war to an end.


Lincoln Movie Pictures, accessed through buzzsugar online.

Lincoln Movie Pictures, Daniel Day Lewis, Sally Field and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, accessed through buzzsugar online.


As a whole, if you are a lover of history and/or President Lincoln, I think you’ll really enjoy this movie. Daniel Day-Lewis is a fabulous casting as President Lincoln, as are Sally Fields as Mary Todd Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones as the Radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens. The exchanges between the characters are both witty and touching, and I personally felt as though it was easy to feel the magnitude of the deliberations. I fully recommend it, but if you need more than the seven Golden Globe nominations and twelve Academy Awards to convince you, can watch the trailer HERE.



[1] “This Day in History: House Passes the 13th Amendment,” History Channel, Accessed January 31, 2013.