Lincoln (2012) Movie Script

Some of us was
in the Second Kansas Colored.
We fought the Rebs at
Jenkins' Ferry last April
just after they killed every Negro soldier
they captured at Poison Springs.
So at Jenkins' Ferry,
we decided warn't takin'
no Reb prisoners.
And we didn't leave a one of 'em alive.
The ones of us that didn't die that day,
we joined up with
the 116th U.S. Colored, sir,
from Camp Nelson, Kentucky.
What's your name, soldier?
Private. Harold Green, sir.
I'm Corporal Ira Clark, sir.
Fifth Massachusetts Cavalry.
We're waiting over there.
We're leaving our horses behind
and shipping outwith the 24th Infantry
for the assault next week on Wilmington.
How long
have you been a soldier?
Two years, sir.
The Second Kansas
Colored Infantry,
they fought bravely at Jenkins' Ferry.
That's right, sir.
They killed
a thousand Rebel soldiers, sir.
They were very brave.
And making $3 less each month
than white soldiers.
Us Second Kansas boys...
Another $3 subtracted
from our pay for our uniforms.
That was true, yes sir,
but that's changed.
Equal pay now, but still
no commissioned Negro officers.
I'm aware of that,
Corporal Clark.
Yes, sir.
That's good that you're aware, sir...
Do you think the Wilmington attack...
Now that white people
have accustomed themselves
to seeing Negro men with guns
fighting on their behalf,
and now that they can tolerate
Negro soldiers getting equal pay
maybe in a few years,
they can abide the idea
of Negro lieutenants and captains.
In fifty years, maybe a Negro colonel.
In a hundred years, the vote.
What will you do after the war,
Corporal Clark?
Work, sir.
- Hm.
- Perhaps you'll hire me.
Perhaps I will.
But you should know, sir,
that I get sick at the smell of boot black
and I cannot cut hair.
I've yet to find a man could cut mine
so that it'd make any difference.
You got springy hair
for a white man.
Yes, I do.
My last barber hanged himself.
And the one before that.
Left me his scissors in his will.
President Lincoln, sir.
Good evening, boys.
We saw you, and...
- We were at...
- We was at Gettysburg.
You boys fight at Gettysburg?
No, didn't fight there,
we just signed up last month.
We saw him two years ago
at the cemetery dedication.
Yeah. We heard you speak...
Uh, hey, how tall are you, anyway?
Aw, jeez, shut up.
Could you hear what I said?
No, sir. Not much.
It was...
"Four score and seven years ago,
our fathers brought forth
from this continent
a new nation, conceived in liberty
and dedicated to the proposition
that all men are created equal."
That's good. Thank you.
"Now we are engaged
in a great civil war,
testing whether that nation
or any nation
so conceived and so dedicated,
can long endure."
"We are met on a great
battlefield of that war."
That's good, thank you.
"We come to dedicate
a portion of that field
as a final resting place
for those who here
gave their lives
that that nation might live."
His uncles, they died
on the second day of fighting.
I know the last part. It is, uh...
Company up! Moving out!
You boys best go
and find your company.
- And thank you.
- Thank you, sir.
- God bless you.
- God bless you, too.
God bless you.
"That we here highly resolve
that these dead
shall not have died in vain."
"That this nation, under God,
shall have a new birth of freedom
and that government
of the people, by the people,
for the people
shall not perish from the earth."
It's nighttime.
Ship's moved by some terrible power
at a terrific speed.
And though it's imperceptible
in the darkness,
I have an intuition that
we're headed towards a shore.
No one else seems to be
aboard the vessel.
I'm very keenly aware of my aloneness.
"I could be bounded in a nutshell
and count myself
a king of infinite space
were it not that I have bad dreams."
I reckon it's the speed
that's strange to me.
I'm used to going at a deliberate pace.
I should spare you, Molly.
I shouldn't tell you my dreams.
I don't want to be spared if you aren't.
And you spare me nothing.
Perhaps it's...
It's the assault on Wilmington Port.
You dream about the ship
before a battle, usually.
How's the coconut?
Beyond description.
Almost two years, nothing mends.
Another casualty of the war.
Who wants to listen to a useless woman
grouse about her carriage accident?
- I do.
- Stuff.
You tell me dreams, that's all.
I'm your soothsayer.
That's all I am to you anymore.
I'm not to be trusted
even if it was not a carriage accident.
Even if it was
an attempted assassination.
It was most probably an accident.
It was an assassin
whose intended target was you.
How are the plans coming along
for the big shindy?
I don't want to talk about parties.
You don't care about parties.
Not much, but they're
a necessary hindrance.
I know.
I know what it's about, the ship.
It's not Wilmington Port.
It's not a military campaign.
It's the amendment to abolish slavery.
Why else would you force me
to invite demented radicals
into my home?
You're going to try to get
the amendment passed
in the House of Representatives
before the term ends?
Before the Inauguration?
Don't spend too much money
on the flubdubs.
No one is loved as much as you.
No one's ever been loved
so much by the people.
You might do anything now.
Don't... Don't waste that power
on an amendment bill
that's sure of defeat.
Did you remember Robert's
coming home for the reception?
I knew you'd forget.
That's the ship you're sailing on,
the 13th Amendment.
You needn't tell me I'm right.
I know I am.
- Oh!
Oh, it's late, Mrs. Keckley.
Well, she needs this
for the grand reception.
It's slow work.
Good night.
Did you tell her a dream?
- Papa.
- Mm-hmm.
Papa, I want to see Willie.
Me, too, Taddie, but we can't.
Why not?
Willie's gone.
It's three years now he's gone.
The part assigned to me
is to raise the flag.
Which, if there be no fault
in the machinery, I will do.
And when up
it'll be for the people to keep it up.
That's my speech.
We are coming, Father Abraham
Three hundred thousand more
From Mississippi's winding stream
And from New England's shore
We leave our plow and workshops
Our wives...
Even if every Republican
in the House votes yes,
far from guaranteed.
Since when has our party
unanimously supported anything?
But say all our fellow Republicans
vote for it.
We'd still be twenty votes short.
Only twenty?
"Only twenty?"
We can find twenty votes.
Twenty House Democrats
who'll vote to abolish slavery?
In my opinion...
To which I always listen.
- Or pretend to.
- With all three of my ears.
We'll win the war soon.
It's inevitable, isn't it?
Well, it ain't won yet.
You'll begin your second term
with semi-divine stature.
Imagine the possibilities
peace will bring.
Why tarnish your invaluable luster
with a battle in the House?
It's a rat's nest in there.
It's the same gang of
talentless hicks and hacks
who rejected the amendment
We'll lose.
I like our chances now.
Well, consider the obstacles
that we'd face.
The aforementioned two-thirds majority
needed to pass an amendment.
We have a Republican majority,
but barely more than 50%.
We need Democratic support.
There's none to be had.
Since the House
last voted on the amendment,
there's been an election.
Sixty-four Democrats
lost their House seats in November.
That's 64 Democrats
looking for work come March.
I know.
They don't need to
worry about re-election.
They can vote however it suits them.
But we can't buy the vote
for the amendment.
- It's too important.
I said nothing of buying anything.
We need twenty votes was all I said.
Start of my second term,
plenty of positions to fill.
Mr. President, may I present
Mr. and Mrs. Jolly
who've come from Missouri...
From Jeff City, President.
Mr. Jolly.
And this here by the fire
is Secretary of State Seward.
Jeff City?
I heard tell once
of a Jefferson City lawyer
who had a parrot
that'd wake him
each morning, crying out,
"Today is the day the world shall end,
as scripture has foretold."
And, uh, one day
the lawyer shot him,
for the sake of peace and quiet,
I presume.
Thus fulfilling, for the bird at least,
his prophecy.
There's only one toll booth in Jeff City,
to the southwest
and this man
Heinz Sauermagen from Rolla
been in illegal possession
for near two yar
since your man General Schofield
set him up there.
But President Monroe give that toll gate
to my grandpap
and Quincy Adams
give my pap a letter
saying it's our'n for keeps.
Mrs. Jolly got the...
Show Mr. Lincoln
the Quincy Adams letter.
That's unnecessary, Mrs. Jolly.
Just tell me what you want from me.
Mr. Jolly's emphysema
don't care for cigars.
Madame, do you know
about the proposed
Yes, sir, everybody knows of it.
The President favors it.
- Do you?
- We do.
You know that it abolishes slavery?
Yes, sir, I know it.
And is that why you favor it?
What I favor is ending the war.
Once we do away with slavery,
the Rebs'll quit fighting
since slavery's what they're fighting for.
Mr. Lincoln, you always says so.
With the amendment, slavery's ended.
And they'll give up.
The war can finish then.
If the war finished first,
before we end slavery...
President Lincoln
says the war won't stop
unless we finish slavery.
But if it did.
The South is exhausted.
If they run out of bullets and men
would you still want your...
Who's your Representative?
Jeff City? That's Congressman Burton.
"Beanpole" Burton.
I mean, Josiah Burton, yes, sir.
A Republican,
undecided on the question
of the amendment, I believe.
Perhaps you could call on him
and inform him of your enthusiasm.
If the Rebels surrendered next week
would you, at the end of this month
want Congressman Burton to vote
for the 13th Amendment?
If that was how it was,
no more war and all
I reckon Mr. Jolly
much prefer not to have
Congress pass the amendment.
Hmm. And, uh
why is that?
If he don't have to
let some Alabama coon
come up to Missouri
steal his chickens and his job,
we'd much prefer that.
The people.
I begin to see why
you're in such a great hurry
to put it through.
Would you let me study this letter, sir,
about the toll booth?
Come back to me in the morning
and we'll consider what the law says.
You be sure to
visit Beanpole.
Tell him that you support
passage of the amendment
as a military necessity.
Thank you.
Oh, Nicolay, when you have a moment.
If procuring votes
with offers of employment
is what you intend
I'll fetch a friend from Albany
who can supply the skulky men
gifted at this kind of shady work
and spare me the indignity
of actually speaking to Democrats.
Spare you the exposure and liability.
Pardon me, that's a distress signal
which I am bound,
by solemn oath, to respond to.
Tom Pendel took away
the glass camera plates
of slaves Mr. Gardner sent over
because Tom says Mama says
they're too distressing.
You had nightmares all night long.
I'll have worse nightmares
if you don't let me look
at the plates again.
You can't afford a single defection
from anyone in the party.
Not even a single Republican
absent when they vote.
You know who you've got to see.
Send over to Blair House.
Ask Preston Blair
can I call on him around 5:00.
God help you.
God alone knows
what he'll ask you to give him.
If the Blairs tell them to,
no Republican will balk
at voting for the amendment.
No conservative Republican
is what you mean.
All Republicans
ought to be conservative.
I founded this party,
in my own goddamn home, to be a
conservative anti-slavery party,
not a hobbyhorse for
goddamn radical abolitionists.
Damp down the dyspepsia, Daddy.
You'll frighten the child.
You need us to keep
the conservative side
of the party in the traces
while you diddle the radicals
and bundle up
with Thaddeus Stevens's gang!
You need our help!
Yes, sir, I do.
Well, what do we get?
Whoa! Blunt!
Your manners, Monty,
must be why Mr. Lincoln
pushed you out of his Cabinet.
- I wasn't pushed!
- Oh, of course you weren't.
He was pushed out to
placate the damn radicals!
- I agreed to resign.
- Oh, Daddy, please! Daddy.
Oh. You don't mind, boy, do you?
He spends his days with soldiers.
They taught me a song.
Did they?
Soldiers know all manner of songs.
How's your brother Bob?
He's at school now, but he's coming
to visit in four days for the shindy.
At school. Ain't that fine?
Good he's not in the Army.
He wants to be,
but Mama said he cannot.
Dangerous life, soldiering.
Your mama is wise
to keep him clean out of that.
Now, your daddy knows that what I want
in return for all the help I can give him
is to go down to Richmond,
like he said I could
as soon as Savannah fell
and talk to Jefferson Davis.
Now give me terms
I can offer to Jefferson Davis
to start negotiating for peace.
He'll talk to me.
Conservative members of your party
want you to listen
to overtures from Richmond.
That above all!
They'll vote for this rash
and dangerous amendment
only if every other possibility
is exhausted.
Our Republicans ain't abolitionists.
We can't tell our people
they can vote yes
on abolishing slavery
unless at the same time we can tell them
that you're seeking a negotiated peace.
Leo, it's 100 miles to Richmond.
Get him drunk so he can sleep.
Yes, ma'am.
Here, Daddy.
- Thank you.
- Yes, sir, all right.
Where's my hat?
Leo has your hat.
All right?
Go make peace.
Thunder forth, God of War.
We'll commence our assault
on Wilmington from the sea.
Why is this burnt?
Was the boy playing with it?
It got took by a breeze
several nights back.
This is an official War Department map.
And the entire Cabinet's waiting
to hear what it portends.
A bombardment.
From the largest fleet
the Navy has ever assembled.
Old Neptune, shake thy hoary locks!
Fifty-eight ships are under way,
of every tonnage and firing range.
We'll keep up a steady barrage.
Our first target is Fort Fisher.
It defends Wilmington Port.
A steady barrage?
A hundred shells a minute.
Till they surrender.
- Dear God.
their last open seaport, therefore...
Wilmington falls, Richmond falls after.
And the war is done.
Hear, hear!
Then why, if I might ask
are we not concentrating
the nation's attention on Wilmington?
Why, instead, are we
reading in the Herald
that the anti-slavery amendment
is being precipitated onto
the House floor for debate?
Because your eagerness,
in what seems an unwarranted intrusion
of the executive into
legislative prerogatives,
is compelling it to what's...
To what's likely to be
its premature demise.
Hear, hear!
You signed
the Emancipation Proclamation.
You've done all that could be done.
The Emancipation Proclamation's
merely a war measure.
After the war, the courts...
When Edward Bates
was Attorney General,
he felt confident enough
to let you sign it!
Different lawyers, different opinions.
It frees slaves
as a military exigent. Not...
I don't recall Edward Bates
being any too certain about
the legality of my proclamation.
Just it wasn't downright criminal.
Somewheres in between.
Back when I rode
the legal circuit in Illinois,
I defended a woman from Metamora
named Melissa Goings.
Seventy-seven years old.
They said she'd murdered
her husband. He was 83.
He was choking her
and she grabbed ahold
of a stick of firewood
and fractured his skull and he died.
In his will, he wrote,
"I expect she has killed me."
"If I get over it, I will have revenge."
No one was keen to see her convicted,
he was that kind of husband.
I asked the prosecuting attorney
if I might have a short conference
with my client.
She and I went into a room
in the courthouse,
but I alone emerged.
The window in the room
was found to be wide open.
It was believed the old lady
may have climbed out of it.
I told the bailiff,
right before I left her in the room
she asked me where she could get
a good drink of water,
and I told her, Tennessee.
Mrs. Goings was seen no more
in Metamora.
Enough justice had been done.
They even forgave
the bondsman her bail.
I'm afraid I don't see...
I decided
that the Constitution
gives me war powers
but no one knows just exactly
what those powers are.
Some say they don't exist.
I don't know. I decided
I needed them to exist to uphold my oath
to protect the Constitution.
Which I decided meant I could take
the Rebels' slaves from them
as property confiscated in war.
That might recommend
to suspicion that I agree
with the Rebs that their slaves
are property in the first place.
Of course, I don't. Never have.
I'm glad to see any man free,
and if calling a man property
or war contraband
does the trick,
why I caught at the opportunity.
Now here's where it gets truly slippery.
I use the law allowing for the seizure
of property in a war
knowing it applies only to the property
of governments and citizens
of belligerent nations.
Well, the South ain't a nation.
That's why I can't negotiate with them.
So if, in fact, the Negroes are property,
according to the law,
have I the right to take
the Rebels' property
from them, if I insist they're rebels only
and not citizens of a belligerent country?
And slipperier still, I maintain it ain't
our actual Southern states in rebellion
but only the rebels living in those states,
the laws of which states remain in force.
"The laws of which states
remain in force."
That means that since it's
states' laws that determine
whether Negroes can be sold as slaves,
as property,
the federal government
doesn't have a say in that.
At least not yet.
Then Negroes in those states
are slaves,
hence property,
hence my war powers
allow me to confiscate them
as such, so I confiscate them.
But if I'm a respecter of states' laws,
how then can I legally free them
with my Proclamation as I done?
Unless I'm canceling states' laws?
I felt the war demanded it.
My oath demanded it.
I felt right with myself,
and I hoped it was legal to do it.
I'm hoping still.
Two years ago, I proclaimed
these people emancipated.
"Then, thenceforward and forever free."
Now let's say the courts
decide I had no authority
to do it. They might well decide that.
Say there's no amendment
abolishing slavery,
say it's after the war
and I can no longer use my war powers
to just ignore the courts' decisions
like I sometimes felt I had to do.
Might those people I freed
be ordered back into slavery?
That's why I'd like to get
the 13th Amendment through the House,
on its way to ratification by the states.
Wrap the whole slavery thing up,
forever and aye,
as soon as I'm able. Now!
End of this month.
And I'd like you to stand behind me
like my Cabinet's most always done.
As the preacher said,
"I could write shorter sermons,
but once I start, I get too lazy to stop."
It seems to me, sir, you're describing
precisely the sort of dictator
the Democrats
have been howling about.
aren't susceptible to law.
Neither is he.
He just said as much.
Ignoring the courts?
Twisting meanings?
What reins him in from... From...
Well, the people do that, I suppose.
I signed the Emancipation Proclamation,
what, a year and a half
before my second election?
I felt I was within my power to do it,
however, I also felt that
I might be wrong about that.
I knew the people would tell me.
I gave them a year and a half
to think about it,
and they re-elected me.
And come February the first,
I intend to sign the 13th Amendment!
Well, Mr. Representative Ashley.
Tell us the news from the Hill.
Ah, well, the news...
Why, for instance, is this thus,
and what is the reason
for this thusness?
James, we want you to bring
the anti-slavery amendment
to the floor for debate,
- immediately.
- Excuse me, what?
You are the amendment's manager,
are you not?
I am, of course, but...
Then we're counting
on robust radical support
so tell Mr. Stevens we expect him
to put his back into it.
It's not going to be easy, but...
It's impossible.
No. I am sorry, no.
We can't organize anything
immediately in the House.
I have been canvassing the Democrats
since the election,
in case any of them have softened
after they got walloped, but
they have stiffened,
if anything, Mr. Secretary.
There aren't nearly enough votes.
We're Whalers, Mr. Ashley.
Whalers? As in, uh... Whales?
We've been chasing this whale
for a long time.
And we finally placed a harpoon
in the monster's back.
It's in, James. It's in.
We finish the deed now. We can't wait.
Or with one flop of his tail,
he'll smash the boat
and send us all to eternity.
On the 31st of this month, of this year,
put the amendment up for a vote.
That's what he said.
The man's never been near
a whale ship in his life.
Withdraw radical support.
Force him to abandon this scheme,
whatever he's up to.
He drags his feet
about everything,
Lincoln... Why this urgency?
We got it through the Senate
without difficulty
because we had the numbers.
Come December, you'll have
the same in the House.
The amendment will be
the easy work of 10 minutes.
He's using the threat of the amendment
to frighten the Rebels
into an immediate surrender.
I imagine we'd rejoice to see that.
Will you rejoice
when the Southern states
have rejoined the Union pell-mell,
as Lincoln intends them to,
and one by one,
each refuses to ratify the amendment?
If we pass it, which we won't.
Why are we cooperating with him?
We all know what he's doing
and we all know what he'll do.
We can't offer up abolition's
best legal prayer
to his games and tricks.
He said he'd welcome the South back
with all its slaves in chains.
Three years ago he said that,
to calm the border states.
I don't!
You said we all know
what he'll do. I don't know.
You know he isn't to be trusted.
Trust? Oh.
I'm sorry, I was under
the misapprehension
that your chosen profession was politics.
I never trusted the President,
never trusted anyone,
but hasn't he surprised you?
No, Mr. Stevens, he hasn't.
Nothing surprises you, Asa,
therefore nothing about you
is surprising.
Perhaps that is why your constituents
did not re-elect you to the coming term.
It's late.
I'm old.
I'm going home.
Lincoln, the inveterate dawdler.
Lincoln, the Southerner.
Lincoln, the capitulating compromiser,
our adversary, and
leader of the godforsaken
Republican party.
Our party.
Abraham Lincoln has asked us
to work with him
to accomplish the death
of slavery in America.
Retain, even in opposition
your capacity for astonishment.
The President is never
to be mentioned. Nor I.
You're paid for your discretion.
Hell, you can have that for nothing.
What we need money for
is bribes, to speed things up.
No, nothing strictly illegal.
It's not illegal to bribe Congressmen,
they'd starve otherwise.
I have explained to Mr. Bilbo
and Mr. Latham that
we are offering patronage jobs
to the Dems who vote yes.
- Jobs and nothing more.
- That's correct.
Congressmen come cheap.
Few thousand bucks
will buy you all you need.
The President would be unhappy
to hear you did that.
Will he be unhappy if we lose?
The money I managed to raise
for this endeavor
is only for your fees,
your food and lodging.
If that squirrel-infested attic
you've quartered us in is any measure,
you ain't raised much.
Shall we get to work?
The House recognizes Fernando Wood,
the honorable Representative
from New York.
Estimable colleagues.
Two bloody years ago this month
His Highness,
King Abraham Africanus the First,
our great usurping Caesar,
violator of habeas corpus
and freedom of the press,
abuser of states' rights...
If Lincoln really were a tyrant, Mr. Wood,
he'd have had your empty head
impaled on a pike!
And the country better for it!
Radical Republican autocrat,
ruling by fiat and martial law,
affixed his name to his heinous and illicit
Emancipation Proclamation
promising it would hasten
the end of the war,
which yet rages on and on.
He claimed, as tyrants do
that the war's emergencies
permitted him to turn our army into...
The New York delegation is
looking decidedly uninspired.
...and radical Republicanism's
abolitionist fanaticism!
His Emancipation Proclamation
has obliterated millions of dollars...
Over in Pennsylvania,
who's the sweaty man eating his thumb?
Unknown to me.
Seems jumpy.
Perhaps he'll jump.
But all that was not enough
for this dictator,
who now seeks to insinuate...
When's this son of liberty
sum-a-bitch gonna sit down?
John Ellis is gonna break
his watch if he doesn't stop.
We are once again asked, nay
commanded, to consider
a proposed 13th Amendment
which, if passed,
shall set at immediate liberty
four million coloreds while manacling
the limbs of the white race in America.
If it is passed,
but it shall not pass!
What's more interesting
is how dismal and disgruntled
Mr. Yeaman appears.
Every member of this House...
He should be cheering right now.
Looks like he ate a bad oyster.
...Party and
the constituents it serves
shall oppose...
Point of order,
Mr. Speaker, if you please.
Mr. Speaker, I still have the floor.
And the gentleman from Pennsylvania
is out of order!
When will Mr. Wood conclude
his interminable gabble?
Some of us breathe oxygen
and we find the mephitic
fumes of his oratory
a lethal challenge
to our pulmonary capabilities!
We shall oppose this amendment,
and any legislation that
so affronts natural law
insulting to God as to man!
Congress must never declare equal
those whom God created unequal!
Slavery is the only insult to natural law,
you fatuous nincompoop!
Procedure, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Wood has the floor.
Instruct us,
oh, Great Commoner.
What is unnatural, in your opinion?
Niggrahs casting ballots?
Niggrah representatives?
Is that natural, Stevens?
What violates natural law?
Slavery and you.
Pendleton, you insult God!
You unnatural noise.
Mr. Colfax, please, use your gavel!
- You are out of order!
- Order in the Cabinet!
Instruct the Sergeant-at-Arms
to suppress this!
We are in session!
- Please don't encourage this!
Don't encourage this!
You're back! You're back! You're back!
I am. The goat got big.
Help me get one of these to my room.
- She in there?
- She's asleep, probably.
- You need help, sir?
- No, sir.
They went to see Avonia Jones last night
in a play about Israelites.
Could you bring your pa this letter I writ
about my insolvency proceeding?
Deliver your own goddamn petition.
There's a new book. Sam Beckwith
says it's about finches
and finches' beaks,
about how they change.
He's here.
He's here! Mrs. Cuthbert, he's here!
- Robbie.
- Hi, Mom.
- Oh, Robbie.
- Hey.
- Robbie.
- Hey.
You're only staying a few days,
Why'd you pack all that?
Well, I don't know how long...
Go tell your father Robert's home.
Mr. Nicolay says Daddy's
secluded with Mr. Blair.
Tell him anyway.
- Did you forget to eat?
- Exactly like him.
- No.
You'll linger a few days extra
after the reception
before you go back to school.
Well, I don't know
if I'm going to go back...
We'll fatten you up
before you return to Boston.
- All right, Mom.
- All right.
Oh, Robbie.
Jefferson Davis is sending
three delegates.
Stephens, Hunter and Campbell.
Vice President of the Confederacy,
the former Secretary of State
and their Assistant Secretary of War.
They're coming in earnest
to propose peace.
I know this is unwelcome news for you.
Now hear me.
I went to Richmond to talk to traitors.
To smile at and plead with traitors
because it'll be spring in two months.
The roads will be passable,
the spring slaughter commences.
Four bloody springs now.
Think of my Frank,
whom you've taken to your heart.
How you'll blame yourself
if the war takes my son
as it's taken multitudes of sons.
Think of all the boys who will die
if you don't make peace.
You must talk with these men.
I intend to, Preston.
In return, I must ask you to support
our push for the amendment...
No, this is not horse trading.
Not now!
Bob. I'm sorry.
- Welcome home.
- Thank you, sir.
Looking fit, Robert.
Harvard agrees with you.
- Mr. Blair.
- Fit and rested.
Could you give us a moment,
please, Robert? Thank you.
I will procure your votes for you,
as I promised.
You have always kept your word to me.
Those Southern men are coming.
I beg you, in the name
of gentle Christ, sir.
I understand.
Talk peace with these men.
I understand, Preston.
We have one abstention so far.
Jacob Graylor.
He'd like to be
Federal Revenue Assessor
for the 5th District of Pennsylvania.
So the total of Representatives
voting three weeks from today
is reduced to 182,
which means 122 yes votes
to reach the requisite
two-thirds of the House.
Assuming all Republicans
vote for the amendment.
Then despite our abstention,
to reach a two-thirds majority,
we remain twenty yeses short.
For which we're seeking
from among 64 lame duck Democrats.
Fully 39 of these we deem
unredeemable no votes.
The kind that hates niggers.
Hates God for makin' niggers.
The Good Lord on high
would despair of their souls.
Thank you for that
pithy explanation, Mr. Bilbo.
We've abandoned these 39 to
the devil that possesses them.
We would...
The remaining lame ducks, on whom
we've been working with a purpose.
Charles Hanson.
My colleagues and I would like
a moment of your time.
I wonder if you've given much thought...
Giles Stuart.
Rather clumsy.
Nelson Merrick.
Homer Benson.
My name is Richard Schell.
I wanted you to have a look
at this prospectus here.
And lastly,
Clay Hawkins. Of Ohio.
Tax Collector for the Western Reserve.
That pays handsomely.
Don't just reach
for the highest branches,
they sway in every breeze.
Assistant Port Inspector in Morristown
looks like the ticket to me.
Boats, they, they make me sick.
So just stand on the dock.
Let the Assistant Assistant
Port Inspector's stomach
go weak.
And, lastly,
Democratic yes vote
number six, Hawkins.
From Ohio.
Well, thus far.
Plus Graylor's abstention.
- From tiny acorns and so on.
- What did Hawkins get?
Postmaster of the Millersburg
Post Office.
He's selling himself cheap, ain't he?
Well, he wanted Tax Collector
of the Western Reserve.
First term Congressman
who couldn't manage reelection.
I felt it unseemly
and they bargained him down
to Postmaster.
Scatter them over several
rounds of appointments
so no one notices, then burn this ledger,
please, after you're done.
Time for my public opinion bath.
Might as well let them in.
Seven yeses with Mr. Ellis.
Thirteen to go.
One last item.
An absurdity, but
my associates report that
among the Representatives
a fantastical rumor's bruited about,
which I immediately disavowed,
that you'd allowed
bleary old Preston Blair
to sojourn to Richmond
to invite Jeff Davis
to send commissioners
up to Washington with a peace plan.
I, of course, told them
that you would never.
Not without consulting me, you wouldn't.
Because why on earth would you?
Much obliged.
Why wasn't I consulted?
I'm Secretary of State.
And you informally send
a reactionary dotard to...
What will happen, do you imagine,
when these
peace commissioners arrive?
We'll hear them out.
Oh. Splendid.
And next, the Democrats will invite them
up to hearings on the Hill.
And the newspapers...
Oh, the newspapers.
The newspapers will ask,
"Why risk enraging the Confederacy
over the issue of slavery
when they're here to make peace?"
We'll lose every Democrat we've got,
more than likely
conservative Republicans
will join them, and all our work,
all our preparing the ground for the vote
laid waste for naught.
The Blairs promised support
for the amendment
if we listen to these people.
Oh, the Blairs promise, do they?
You think they'll keep their promise
once we've heard these delegates
and refused them,
which we will have to do,
since their proposal most certainly
will be predicated on
keeping their slaves!
What hope for
any Democratic votes, Willum,
if word gets out that
I've refused a chance
to end the war?
You think word won't get out?
In Washington?
It's either the amendment
or this Confederate peace.
You cannot have both.
"If you can look into the seeds of time,"
"And say which grain will grow
and which will not,"
"Speak then to me."
A disaster. This is a disaster.
Time is a great thickener
of things, Willum.
Yes, I suppose it is.
Actually, I have no idea
what you mean by that.
Get me 13 votes.
Them fellas from Richmond
ain't here yet.
You drafted
half the men in Boston.
What do you think
their families think about me?
The only reason they don't
throw things and spit on me
is 'cause you're so popular.
I can't concentrate on,
on British Mercantile Law.
I don't care about British Mercantile Law.
I might not even want to be a lawyer.
It's a sturdy profession.
And a useful one.
Yes, and I want to be useful,
but now, not afterwards.
I ain't wearing them things, Mr. Slade.
They never fit right.
The missus will have you
wear them. Don't think...
You're delaying,
that's your favorite tactic.
- Be useful...
- You won't tell me no,
but the war will be over in
a month, and you know it will.
I've found that prophesying
is one of life's
less profitable occupations.
Why do some slaves
cost more than others?
Uh, if they're still young and healthy,
or if the women can
still conceive, they pay more.
Put them back in the box, you scoundrel.
We'll return them to Mr. Gardner's studio
day after next.
Be careful with them now.
These things should have
stayed on the calf.
When you were a slave,
Mr. Slade, did they beat you?
I was born a free man.
Nobody beat me
except I beat them right back.
Mr. Lincoln...
Mrs. Keckley was a slave.
Ask her if she was beaten.
- Were you...
- Tad.
I was beaten with a fire shovel
when I was younger than you.
You should go to Mrs. Lincoln.
She's in Willie's room.
She never goes in there.
The reception line is already
stretching out the door.
See, I'll be the only man
over 15 and under 65
in this whole place not in uniform.
I'm under 15.
My head hurts so.
I prayed for death the night Willie died.
My headaches are how I know
I didn't get my wish.
How to endure the long afternoon
and deep into the night.
I know.
Trying not to think about him.
How will I manage?
- Somehow. You will.
- Somehow?
Somehow. Somehow.
Every party.
And now
four years more in this terrible house,
reproaching us.
He was a very sick little boy.
We should have canceled
that reception, shouldn't we?
We didn't know how sick he was.
I knew. I knew.
I saw that night he was dying.
Three years ago,
the war was going so badly.
We had to put on a face.
But I saw Willie was dying.
I saw him.
It's too hard.
Too hard.
Oh, gracious saints!
She's just ten feet yonder.
I'd like to keep my job.
- How nice to see you.
- Nice to see you.
Senator Sumner.
It's been much too long.
"Oh, who can look
on that celestial face..."
James Ashley, ma'am.
We've met several times.
Praise heavens, praise heavens.
Just when I had abandoned
hope of amusement,
it's the Chairman of the House Ways
- and Means Committee.
- Mrs. Lincoln.
Madame President, if you please.
Don't convene another subcommittee
to investigate me, sir.
I'm teasing. Smile, Senator Wade.
I believe I am smiling, Mrs. Lincoln.
As long as your household accounts
are in order, madam,
we'll have no need to investigate them.
You have always taken such a lively,
even prosecutorial interest
in my household accounts.
Your household accounts have
always been so interesting.
Yes, thank you. It's true.
The miracles I have wrought
out of fertilizer bills and cutlery invoices,
but I had to.
Four years ago, when
the President and I arrived,
this was pure pigsty.
Tobacco stains on the Turkey carpets.
Mushrooms, green as the moon,
sprouting from the ceilings.
And a pauper's pittance
allotted for improvements.
As if your committee joined
with all of Washington
awaiting in what you anticipated
would be our comfort in squalor.
Further proof that my husband and I
were prairie primitives
unsuited to the position to
which an error of the people,
a flaw in the Democratic
process had elevated us.
The past is the past. It's a new year now
and we are all getting along,
or so they tell me.
I gather we are working together.
The White House and the other House,
hatching little plans together.
- Mother.
- What?
- You're creating a bottleneck.
- Oh.
Oh, I'm detaining you.
And more importantly,
the people behind you.
How the people love my husband.
They flock to see him by
their thousands on public days.
They will never love you
the way they love him.
How difficult it must be
for you to know that
and yet how important to remember it.
Since we have the floor
next in the debate,
I thought I'd suggest you might
temper your contribution
so as not to frighten
our conservative friends.
Ashley insists you're ensuring approval
by dispensing patronage
to otherwise undeserving Democrats.
I can't ensure a single damn thing
if you scare the whole House silly
with talk of land appropriations
and revolutionary tribunals.
When the war ends, I intend to
push for full equality,
the Negro vote, and much more.
Congress shall mandate the seizure
of every foot of Rebel land
and every dollar of their property.
We'll use their confiscated wealth
to establish hundreds of thousands
of free Negro farmers
and, at their side,
soldiers armed to occupy
and transform the heritage of traitors.
We'll build up a land down there
of free men and free women
and free children and freedom.
The nation needs to know
that we have such plans.
That's the untempered version
of reconstruction.
It is not...
It's not quite exactly what I intend.
But we shall oppose one another
in the course of time.
Now we're working together,
and I'm asking you...
For patience, I expect.
When the people disagree,
bringing them together
requires going slow
until they're ready to...
Shit on the people and what they want
and what they're ready for.
I don't give a goddamn about the people
and what they want.
This is the face of someone
who has fought long and hard
for the good of the people
without caring much for any of them.
And I look a lot worse without my wig.
The people elected me
to represent them,
to lead them, and I lead.
You ought to try it.
I admire your zeal, Mr. Stevens
and I have tried to profit
from the example of it, but
if I'd listened to you,
I'd have declared every slave free
the minute the first shell
struck Fort Sumter.
And the border states
would have gone over
to the Confederacy,
the war would have been lost
and the Union along with it,
and instead of abolishing slavery
as we hope to do in two weeks,
we'd be watching,
helpless as infants, as it spread
from the American South
into South America.
Oh, how you have longed
to say that to me.
You claim you trust them,
but you know what the people are.
You know that the inner compass,
that should direct the soul
towards justice
has ossified in white men
and women, North and South,
unto utter uselessness,
through tolerating the evil of slavery.
White people cannot bear the thought
of sharing this country's
infinite abundance
with Negroes.
A compass, I learned
when I was surveying,
it'll point you true north
from where you're standing.
But it's got no advice about
the swamps and deserts and chasms
that you'll encounter along the way.
If in pursuit of your destination,
you plunge ahead,
heedless of obstacles
and achieve nothing more
than to sink in a swamp,
what's the use of knowing true north?
Robert's going to plead
with us to let him enlist.
Make time to talk to Robbie.
You only have time for Tad.
Tad is young.
So is Robert. Too young for the Army.
Plenty of boys younger
than Robert signing up.
Don't take Robbie.
Don't let me lose my son.
Go away! We're occupied!
Secretary Stanton has sent over
to tell you that as of half an hour ago
the shelling of Wilmington Harbor
has commenced.
They cannot possibly maintain
under this kind of an assault.
Terry has got 10,000 men
surrounding the goddamn port.
Why doesn't he answer...
Fort Fisher is a mountain
of a building, Edwin.
It's the largest fort they have, sir.
Twenty-two big Seacoast guns
on each rampart.
They've been reinforcing it
for the last two years.
They've taken 17,000 shells
since yesterday!
I want to hear Fort Fisher is ours
and Wilmington has fallen.
Send another damn cable!
The problem's their
commander, Whiting!
He engineered the fortress himself,
the damn thing's his child.
He'll defend it till
his every last man is gone.
"Come on out, you old rat!"
what Ethan Allen called out
to the commander
of Fort Ticonderoga in 1776.
"Come on out, you old rat!"
Of course, there were only
There is one Ethan Allen story
that I'm very partial to.
No, you're going to tell a story.
I don't believe that I can bear
to listen to another one
of your stories right now.
I need the B&O sideyard
schedules for Alexandria!
I asked for them this morning!
It was
right after the Revolution,
right after peace had been concluded.
And Ethan Allen went to London
to help our new country
conduct its business with the King.
The English sneered
at how rough we are
and rude and simple-minded,
and on like that,
everywhere he went
till one day he was invited
to the townhouse
of a great English lord.
Dinner was served
and beverages imbibed,
time passed, as happens, and
Mr. Allen found he needed the privy.
He was grateful to be directed thence.
- Relieved, you might say.
Now, Mr. Allen discovered
on entering the water closet,
that the only decoration therein
was a portrait of George Washington.
Was a portrait of George Washington.
Ethan Allen done what he came to do,
and returned to the drawing room.
His host and the others
were disappointed
when he didn't mention
Washington's portrait.
Finally, His Lordship couldn't
resist and asked Mr. Allen
had he noticed it,
the picture of Washington.
He had.
Well, what did he think of its placement,
did it seem appropriately
located to Mr. Allen?
Mr. Allen said it did.
His host was astounded.
"George Washington's likeness
in a water closet?"
"Yes," said Mr. Allen.
"Where it'll do good service.
"The whole world knows nothing
will make an Englishman
shit quicker than the sight
of George Washington."
I love that story.
Fort Fisher is ours. We've taken the port.
And Wilmington?
We've taken the fort,
but the city of Wilmington
has not surrendered.
How many casualties?
- Heavy losses.
- And more to come.
It sours the national mood.
It might suffice...
To what? To bring this down?
Not in a fight like this.
This is to the death.
That's gruesome.
Are you despairing or merely lazy?
This fight is for
the United States of America.
Nothing "suffices." A rumor? Nothing.
They're not lazy.
They're busily buying votes
while we hope to be saved
by "the national mood"?
Before this blood is dry, when
Stevens next takes the floor,
taunt him. You excel at that.
Get him to proclaim what
we all know he believes
in his coal-colored heart.
That this vote is meant
to set the black race on high,
to niggerate America...
George, please, stay on course.
Bring Stevens to full froth.
I can ensure that every newspaperman
from Louisville to San Francisco
will be here to witness it and print it.
The floor belongs to
the mellifluent gentleman
from Kentucky, Mr. George Yeaman.
I thank you, Speaker Colfax.
Although I am disgusted by slavery,
I rise on this sad and solemn day
to announce that
I'm opposed to the amendment.
We must consider what
will become of colored folk
if four million are, in one instant, set free.
They'll be free, George,
that's what will become of them.
Think how splendid
if Mr. Yeaman switched.
Too publicly against us.
He can't change course now.
Not for some miserable
little job, anyways.
And we will be forced to enfranchise
the men of the colored race.
It would be inhuman not to.
Now who among us is prepared
to give Negroes the vote?
And, and,
what shall follow upon that?
Universal enfranchisement?
Votes for women?
Bless my eyes.
If it isn't the Postmaster
of Millersburg, Ohio.
Mr. LeClerk felt honor-bound
to inform us
of your disgusting betrayal.
Your prostitution.
Is that true, Postmaster Hawkins?
Is your maidenly virtue for sale?
Is your maidenly virtue for sale?
If my neighbors hear
that I voted yes for nigger freedom
and no to peace, they will kill me.
A deal is a deal.
You men know better
than to piss your pants
just 'cause there's talk
about peace talks.
- Look, I'll find another job!
- My neighbors in Nashville,
they found out I was loyal to the Union,
they came after me with gelding knives.
- I'll find another job.
- You do right, Clay Hawkins.
I want to do right! But I got no courage!
Wait. You wanted...
What was it?
A tax man for the Western Reserve?
Hell, you can have the whole
state of Ohio if you want...
Oh, crap.
Eleven votes?
Two days ago, we had twelve.
What happened?
There are defections in the ranks.
It's the goddamn rumors
regarding the Richmond delegation.
- Yes. The peace offer.
- Groundless.
- And yet the rumors persist.
- They are ruining us.
Among the few
remaining Representatives
who seem remotely plausible,
there is a perceptible
increase in resistance.
Resistance, hell.
Thingamabob Hollister,
Dem from Indiana.
I approached him,
sumbitch near to murdered me.
Colorado Territory... What's this one?
Job description... Taxpayers and...
Oh, shit! Cracky!
Fuck you, you son of a bitch! Goddamn!
- Perhaps you pushed too hard.
- I push nobody.
Perhaps we need reinforcements.
If Jeff Davis wants to cease hostilities,
who do you think is going to
give a genuine solid shit
to free slaves?
Get back to it.
And gentlemen, good day.
We are at an impasse.
Tell Lincoln to deny the rumors, publicly.
Tell us what you expect of us.
I expect you to do your work.
And have sufficient sense and taste
not to presume to instruct the President.
Or me.
Is there a Confederate offer, or not?
I suggest you work some changes
to your proposal
before you give it to the President.
We're eager to be on our way
to Washington.
Mr. Lincoln tell you to tell us this?
It says "securing peace
for our two countries"
and it goes on like that.
- I don't...
- There is just one country.
You and I, we're citizens of that country.
I'm fighting to protect it
from armed rebels.
From you.
But Mr. Blair, he told us,
he told President
Jefferson Davis that we...
A private citizen like Preston Blair
can say what he pleases,
since he has no authority over anything.
If you want to discuss peace
with President Lincoln,
consider revisions.
If we're not to discuss
a truce between warring nations,
what in heaven's name can we discuss?
Terms of surrender.
"Office United States
Military Telegraph,
"War Department."
"For Abraham Lincoln,
President of the United States."
January 20, 1865.
"I will state confidentially
that I am convinced
upon conversation
with these commissioners
that their intentions are good
and their desire sincere
to restore peace and union."
"I fear now they're going back
without any expression
of interest from anyone
in authority, Mr. Lincoln,
will have a bad influence."
"I will be sorry should
it prove impossible for you
to have an interview with them."
"I am awaiting your instructions."
"U.S. Grant, Lieutenant General,
Commanding Armies, United States."
After four years of war, and
near 600,000 lives lost,
he believes we can end this war now.
My trust in him is marrow deep.
You could bring the delegates
to Washington.
In exchange for the South's
immediate surrender,
we could promise them
the amendment's defeat.
They'd agree, don't you think?
We'd end the war. This week.
Or, if you could manage
without seeming to do it, to, uh...
The peace delegation
might encounter delays
as they travel up the James River.
Particularly with the fighting
around Wilmington.
Within ten days' time,
we might pass the 13th Amendment.
Here's a 16-year-old boy,
they're going to hang him.
He's with the Fifteenth
Indiana Cavalry near Bulford.
It seems he lamed his horse
to avoid battle.
I don't think even Stanton
would complain
if I pardoned him.
You think Stanton would complain?
I don't know, sir.
I don't know who you're, uh...
- What time is it?
- It's 3:40 in the morning.
Don't let him pardon any more deserters.
Mr. Stanton thinks you pardon too many.
He's generally apoplectic on the subject.
He oughtn't have done that,
crippled his horse.
That was cruel, but you don't just hang
a 16-year-old boy for that...
Ask the horse what he thinks.
...for cruelty. There'd be
no 16-year-old boys left.
Grant wants me to bring
the secesh delegates
to Washington.
So there are secesh delegates?
He was afraid, that's all it was.
I don't care to hang a boy
for being frightened, either.
What good would it do him?
War's nearly done, ain't that so?
What use is one more corpse?
Any more corpses?
Do you need company?
In times like this,
I'm best alone.
"Lieutenant General
Ulysses S. Grant, City Point."
"I have read your words with interest."
"I ask that,
regardless of any action
I take in the matter
of the visit of
the Richmond commissioners
you maintain among your troops
military preparedness for battle
as you have done until now."
"Have Captain Saunders convey
the commissioners to me
here in Washington."
"A. Lincoln." And the date.
Yes, sir.
Shall I transmit, sir?
You think we choose to be born?
I don't suppose so.
Are we fitted to the times
we're born into?
Well, I don't know about myself.
You may be,
sir. Fitted.
What do you reckon?
Well, I'm an engineer.
I reckon there's machinery,
but no one's done the fitting.
You're an engineer.
You must know Euclid's axioms
and common notions.
I must have in school, but...
I never had much of schooling,
but I read Euclid
in an old book I borrowed.
Little enough ever found its way in here,
but once learnt, it stayed learnt.
Euclid's first common notion is this,
"Things which are equal
to the same thing
are equal to each other."
That's a rule of mathematical reasoning.
It's true because it works.
Has done and always will do.
In his book, mmm,
Euclid says this is "self-evident."
You see? There it is,
even in that 2,000-year-old book
of mechanical law.
It is a self-evident truth
that things which are equal
to the same thing
are equal to each other.
We begin with equality.
That's the origin, isn't it?
That's balance. That's... That's fairness.
That's justice.
Just read me back the last sentence
of the telegram, please.
"Have Captain Saunders convey
the commissioners to me
here in Washington."
A slight emendation,
if you would, Sam.
"Have Captain Saunders
convey the gentlemen
aboard the River Queen
as far as Hampton Roads, Virginia,
and there wait until
further advice from me."
"Do not proceed to Washington."
The World, the Herald,
the Times,
New York, Chicago,
the Journal of Commerce,
even your hometown paper's here.
Say you believe only in
legal equality for all races,
not racial equality.
I beg you, sir.
Compromise. Or you risk it all.
I've asked you a question, Mr. Stevens,
and you must answer me.
Do you or do you not
hold that the precept
that "All men are created equal"
is meant literally?
Is that not the true purpose
of the amendment?
To promote your ultimate
and ardent dream to elevate...
The true purpose
of the amendment, Mr. Wood,
you perfectly named,
brainless obstructive object...
Now you have always insisted,
Mr. Stevens,
that Negroes are the same
as white men are.
The true purpose of the amendment...
I don't hold with equality in all things,
only with equality before the law.
Nothing more.
That's... That's not so.
You believe that Negroes are
entirely equal to white men.
You've said it a thousand times!
For shame! For shame!
Stop prevaricating and
answer Representative Wood!
I don't hold with equality in all things,
only with equality before the law.
After the decades of fervent advocacy...
He's answered your questions!
This amendment's
not to do with race equality.
I don't hold with equality in all things,
only with equality before
the law, and nothing more!
Who'd ever have guessed
that old nightmare
capable of such control?
He might make a politician someday.
I need to go.
Mrs. Keckley.
Your frantic attempt to delude us now
is unworthy of a representative.
It is, in fact, unworthy of a white man!
How can I hold that
all men are created equal
when here before me stands, stinking,
the moral carcass of
the gentleman from Ohio, proof
that some men are inferior,
endowed by their Maker with dim wits,
impermeable to reason,
with cold, pallid slime in their veins
instead of hot, red blood!
You are more reptile than man, George!
So low and flat that the foot of man
is incapable of crushing you.
How dare you?
Yet even you, Pendleton,
who should have been
gibbeted for treason
long before today.
Even worthless, unworthy you
ought to be treated equally
before the law!
And so again, sir, again
and again and again I say,
I do not hold with equality in all things,
only with equality before the law.
Mr. Speaker, will you permit
this vile, boorish man
to slander and to threaten me?
And to reduce these proceedings
on this most important matter
into an anarchic
and tawdry burlesque?
You asked if ever I was surprised.
Today, Mr. Stevens,
I was surprised.
You've led the battle for
race equality for 30 years.
The basis of every hope for
this country's future life,
you denied Negro equality.
I'm nauseated.
You refused to say that all humans are...
Well, human.
Have you lost your very soul,
Mr. Stevens?
Is there nothing you won't say?
I'm sorry you're nauseous, Asa.
That must be unpleasant.
I want the amendment to pass,
so that the Constitution's first
and only mention of slavery
is its absolute prohibition.
For this amendment, for which
I have worked all my life
and for which countless
colored men and women
have fought and died
and now hundreds
of thousands of soldiers...
No, sir, no.
It seems there's very nearly
nothing I won't say.
I'm not going in.
You said you wanted to help me.
But this is just a clumsy attempt
to discourage me.
I've been to Army hospitals.
I've seen surgeries.
I went and visited
the malaria barges with Mama.
She told me she didn't take you inside.
I snuck in afterwards.
I've seen what it's like.
This changes nothing.
Well, at all rate, son,
I'm happy to have your company.
- Good morning, Jim.
- Hello, Mr. President.
- Good to see you again.
- Good to see you.
Well, boys, first question.
You getting enough to eat?
Hello, sir.
- What's your name, soldier?
- Robert.
- Good to meet you, Robert.
- Nice to meet you.
- What's your name?
- Kevin.
Tell me your names as I go past.
I'd like to know who I'm talking to. Kevin.
- Mr. President. John.
- John. I've seen you before.
Mr. President.
Make sure you get some steak.
I wouldn't mind one myself, right now.
What's the matter, Bob?
I have to do this, and I will do it.
And I don't need
your permission to enlist.
That same speech has been made
by how many sons
to how many fathers
since the war began?
"I don't need your damn permission,
you miserable old goat,
I'm gonna enlist anyhow."
And what wouldn't those
numberless fathers have given
to be able to say to their sons
as I now say to mine,
"I'm Commander in Chief."
So, in point of fact,
without my permission
you ain't enlisting
in nothing nowhere, young man.
It's Mama you're scared of,
it's not me getting killed.
I have to do this! And I will!
Or I will feel ashamed of myself
for the rest of my life!
Whether or not you fought
is what's gonna matter,
and not just to other people,
but to myself!
I won't be you, Pa, I can't do that,
but I don't want to be nothing!
I can't lose you.
He'll be fine, Molly.
City Point's a way back
from the front lines
and the fighting.
He'll be an adjutant, running
messages for General Grant.
The war will take our son.
A sniper, or a shrapnel shell, a typhus
same as took Willie.
It takes hundreds of boys a day.
He'll die uselessly.
And how will I ever forgive you?
Most men, their firstborn is their favorite.
You've always blamed Robert
for being born.
For trapping you in a marriage
that's only ever given you grief
- and caused you regret.
- That's simply not true.
And if the slaughter of Cold Harbor's
on your hands same as Grant,
God help us.
We'll pay for the oceans of spilled blood
you've sanctioned,
the uncountable corpses!
We'll be made to pay
with our son's dear blood!
Just this once, Mrs. Lincoln,
I demand of you to try
and take the liberal
and not the selfish point of view.
Robert will never forgive himself.
You imagine he'll forgive us
if we continue to stifle
this very natural ambition?
And if I refuse to take the high road?
If I won't pick up the rough old cross,
will you threaten me again
with the madhouse?
As you did when I couldn't
stop crying over Willie.
When I showed you what heartbreak,
real heartbreak, looked like.
And you hadn't the courage
- to countenance, to help me!
- That's right, that's right...
When you refused so much
as to comfort Tad,
a child who was not only sick,
dangerously sick,
but beside himself with grief!
I was holding him in my arms
when he died.
But your grief, your grief,
your inexhaustible grief!
How dare you throw that up at me?
And his mother wouldn't let him near her
because she's screaming
from morning to night!
I couldn't risk him
seeing how angry I was!
Pacing the halls, howling at shadows
and furniture and ghosts!
I ought to have done it for Tad's sake,
for everybody's goddamn sake,
I should have clapped you
in the madhouse!
Then do it!
Do it! Don't you threaten me!
You do it this time. Lock me away.
You'll have to, I swear,
if Robert is killed.
I couldn't tolerate you
grieving so for Willie
because I couldn't permit it in myself.
Though I wanted to, Mary.
I wanted to crawl under the earth,
into the vault, with his coffin.
And I still do. Every day I do.
Don't speak to me about grief.
I must make my decisions,
Bob must make his, you yours.
And bear what we must.
Hold and carry what we must.
What I carry within me,
you must allow me to do it.
Alone, as I must. And you alone, Mary,
you alone may lighten this burden.
Or render it intolerable.
As you choose.
You think I'm ignorant
of what you're up to
because you haven't discussed
this scheme with me
as you ought to have done?
When have I ever been
so easily bamboozled?
I believe you when you insist
that amending the Constitution
and abolishing slavery will end this war.
And since you are
sending my son into the war,
woe unto you if you fail
to pass the amendment.
Seward doesn't want me
leaving big muddy footprints
all over town.
No one has ever lived
who knows better than you
the proper placement of footfalls
on treacherous paths.
Seward can't do it. You must.
Because if you fail to acquire
the necessary votes,
woe unto you, sir. You will answer to me.
Thank you.
I know the vote is only four days away.
I know you're concerned.
Thank you for your concern over this.
And I want you to know,
they'll approve it.
God will see to it.
I don't envy Him his task.
He may wish He'd chosen
an instrument for His purpose
more wieldy than
the House of Representatives.
Then you'll see to it.
Are you afraid of what
lies ahead for your people
if we succeed?
White people don't want us here.
- Many don't.
- What about you?
I don't know you, Mrs. Keckley.
Any of you.
You're familiar to me, as all people are,
unaccommodated, poor, bare,
forked creatures,
such as we all are.
You have a right to expect what I expect.
And likely our expectations
are not incomprehensible to each other.
I assume I'll get used to you.
Now what you are to the nation,
what'll become of you
once slavery's day is done,
I don't know.
What my people are to be, I can't say.
Negroes have been fighting
and dying for freedom
since the first of us was a slave.
I never heard any ask
what freedom would bring.
Freedom is first.
As for me,
my son died fighting for the Union,
wearing the Union blue.
For freedom he died.
And I'm his mother.
That's what I am
to the nation, Mr. Lincoln.
What else must I be?
My whole hand's gonna be proud
in about five seconds.
Let's see how proud you can be.
Go away. That watch fob, is that gold?
You keep your eyes off my fob.
Gentlemen, you have a visitor.
- Goddamn!
- Hey, Bill.
Well, I'll be fucked.
I wouldn't bet against it.
Mr, uh?
W. N. Bilbo.
Yeah, Mr. Bilbo. Gentlemen.
Why are you here? No offense,
but Mr. Seward's banished
the very mention of your name.
He won't even let us use fifty cent pieces
'cause they've got your face on 'em.
The Secretary of State here
tells me that you got
That's encouraging.
Oh, you've got no cause
to be encouraged, sir.
Are we being fired?
"We have heard the chimes
at midnight, Master Shallow."
I'm here to alert you boys
that the great day of reckoning
is nigh upon us.
The Democrats we've yet to bag, sir,
the patronage jobs simply won't bag 'em.
They require more convincing,
Mr. President.
Mm-hmm. Do me a favor, will you?
It snagged my eye
in the paper this morning
that the Governor Curtin
is set to declare a winner in the disputed
Congressional election for the...
Pennsylvania 16th District.
What a joy to be comprehended.
Hop on a train to Philadel,
call on the Governor...
Send Latham. Or Schell.
No, he'll do fine.
Just polish yourself up first.
The incumbent is claiming
he won it. Name of...
- That's him.
- Coffroth.
- He's a Democrat.
- I understand that.
- Silly name.
- A little bit silly.
Uh, tell Governor Curtin
it'd be much appreciated
if he'd invite
the House of Representatives
to decide who won.
He's entitled to do that. He'll agree to it.
Then advise Coffroth
if he hopes to retain his seat,
then he'd better pay a visit
to Thaddeus Stevens.
Well, pity poor Coffroth.
It opens!
You are Canfrey?
Coffroth, Mr. Stevens.
Alexander Coffroth.
Are we representatives
of the same state?
Yes, sir.
We sit only three desks apart.
I haven't noticed you.
I'm a Republican and you,
Coughdrop, are a Democrat?
Well, uh, I, um,
that is to say...
The modern travesty
of Thomas Jefferson's
political organization
to which you've attached
yourself like a barnacle
has the effrontery to call
itself the Democratic Party.
You are a Democrat.
What's the matter with you?
Are you wicked?
- Well, I felt...
- Never mind.
Coff snot, you were
ignominiously trounced
at the hustings in November's election
by your worthy challenger,
a Republican.
No, sir, I was not trounced.
He wants to steal my seat.
I didn't lose the election.
What difference does it make
if you lost or not?
The governor of our state
is... A Democrat?
No, he's, he's a...
- lic...
- lic...
- ...can.
- ...can. Republican.
I know what he is.
This is a rhetorical exercise.
And Congress is controlled
by what party? Yours?
Your party was beaten.
Your challenger's party
now controls the House
and hence the House
Committee on Elections,
so you have been beaten.
You shall shortly be sent home
in disgrace. Unless...
I know what I must do, sir.
I will immediately become
a Republican and vote yes...
Coffroth will vote yes,
but Coffroth will remain a Democrat
until after he does so.
Why wait to switch? I'm happy to...
We want to show the amendment
has bipartisan support,
you idiot. Early in the next Congress,
when I tell you to do so,
you will switch parties.
Now congratulations
on your victory, and get out.
Now, give me the names
of whoever else you've been hunting.
Aw, hell.
George Yeaman.
Yes. Yeaman.
Among others.
- But Yeaman, that'd count.
- Yeah.
I got it.
I can't vote for
the amendment, Mr. Lincoln.
I saw a barge once, Mr. Yeaman,
filled with colored men in chains
heading down the Mississippi
to the New Orleans slave markets.
It sickened me.
And more than that,
it brought a shadow down.
A pall around my eyes.
Slavery troubled me
as long as I can remember
in a way it never troubled my father,
though he hated it, in his own fashion.
He knew no smallholding dirt farmer
could compete with slave plantations
so he took us out from Kentucky
to get away from 'em.
He wanted Indiana kept free.
He wasn't a kind man
but there was a rough,
moral urge for fairness,
for freedom in him.
I learnt that from him, I suppose.
If little else from him.
We didn't care
for one another, Mr. Yeaman.
Well, I'm sorry to hear that.
Loving kindness, that most
ordinary thing, came to me
from other sources. I'm grateful for that.
Well, I hate it, too, sir.
Slavery, but...
But we're entirely unready
for emancipation.
And there's too many questions...
We're unready for peace, too, ain't we?
Yeah, when it comes,
it'll present us with conundrums
and dangers greater than
any we faced during the war,
bloody as it's been.
We'll have to extemporize and
experiment with what it is,
when it is.
I read your speech, George.
Negroes and the vote,
that's a puzzle.
No, no. But, but, but Negroes can't
uh, vote, Mr. Lincoln.
You're not suggesting
we enfranchise colored people?
I'm asking only that
you disenthrall yourself
from the slave powers.
I'll let you know when
there's an offer on my desk
for surrender.
There's none before us now.
What's before us now,
that's the vote on the 13th Amendment.
And it's going to be so very close.
You see what you can do.
I can't make sense of it.
What he died for.
Mr. Lincoln, I hate them all.
I do. All black people.
I am a prejudiced man.
Well, I'd change that in you if I could,
but that's not why I come.
I might be wrong, Mr. Hutton,
but I expect colored people
most likely be free.
And when that's so, it's simple truth
that your brother's bravery
and his death helped make it so.
Only you can decide whether
that's sense enough for you or not.
My deepest sympathies to your family.
We've managed our members
to a fare-thee-well.
You've had no defections
from the Republican right to trouble you.
Whereas as to what you promised,
where the hell are the commissioners?
Oh, my God. It's true.
You... You lied to me.
Mr. Lincoln, you evaded
my request for a denial
that there is a Confederate peace offer,
because there is one!
We are absolutely guaranteed
to lose the whole thing.
We don't need a goddamn
abolition amendment!
Leave the Constitution alone!
What if the peace commissioners
appear today, or worse...
I can't listen to this anymore.
I can't accomplish a goddamn thing
of any human meaning or worth
until we cure ourselves of slavery
and end this pestilential war!
And whether any of you
or anyone else knows it,
I know I need this!
This amendment is that cure!
We are stepped out upon
the world stage now!
With the fate of human dignity
in our hands!
Blood's been spilt to
afford us this moment!
Now! Now! Now!
And you grousle and heckle
and dodge about like
pettifogging Tammany Hall hucksters!
See what is before you.
See the here and now, that's the
hardest thing,
the only thing that accounts.
Abolishing slavery
by constitutional provision
settles the fate for all coming time
not only of the millions now in bondage
but of unborn millions to come.
Two votes stand in its way.
These votes must be procured.
We need two yeses,
three abstentions, or
four yeses
and one more abstention,
and the amendment will pass.
You got a night, and a day, and a night,
and several perfectly good hours.
Now get the hell out of here and get 'em.
Yes. But how?
Buzzards' guts, man.
I am the President of the
United States of America
clothed in immense power.
You will procure me these votes.
We welcome you, ladies and gentlemen,
first in the history of
this people's chamber,
to your House.
Mr. Ashley, the floor is yours.
On the matter of the
joint resolution before us,
presenting a 13th Amendment
to our National Constitution,
which was passed last year
by the Senate
and which has been debated now
by this estimable body
for the past several weeks,
today we will vote.
By mutual agreement,
we shall hear brief, final statements,
beginning with
the honorable
George Pendleton of Ohio.
I have just received
of what previously has
been merely rumored.
Affidavits from loyal citizens
recently returned from Richmond.
They testify that
commissioners have indeed
come north and ought to have arrived
by now in Washington City
bearing an offer of immediate cessation
of our civil war.
Is it true, sir?
Are there Confederate
commissioners in the capital?
I have no idea where they are
or if they've arrived.
They'll arrive.
I appeal to
my fellow Democrats,
to all Republican representatives
who give a fig for peace,
postpone this vote!
Until we have answers
from the President himself!
Postpone the vote!
Postpone the vote!
Postpone the vote! Postpone the vote!
Postpone the vote! Postpone the vote!
Postpone the vote!
Postpone the vote!
- Postpone the vote!
- Gentlemen!
Postpone the vote!
Postpone the vote! Postpone the vote!
Postpone the vote! Postpone the vote!
I have made a motion!
Does anyone care to second my motion?
The conservative faction
of border and western Republicans
cannot approve this amendment,
about which we harbor grave doubts,
if a peace offer is being
held hostage to its success.
Joining together with
our Democratic colleagues,
I second the motion
to postpone.
He must deny peace
commissioners are in the city.
Quick, man. Quick.
This is precisely
what Mr. Wood wishes me
to respond to?
Word for word, this is precisely
the assurance that he demands of me?
Yes, sir.
Give this to Mr. Ashley.
Uh, I feel I have to say,
Mr. Lincoln, that...
Could you please just step outside?
You want to have a chat now,
with the whole of the
House of Representatives
waiting on this?
Making false representation
to Congress, is...
- It's...
- It's impeachable,
but I've made no such
false representation.
But there are.
There is a delegation from Richmond.
Give me the note, Johnnie.
Please, deliver that to Mr. Ashley.
From the President.
"So far as I know, there are no
peace commissioners in the city
nor are there likely to be."
"So far as I know"?
That means nothing.
Are there commissioners from
the South, or aren't there?
The President
has answered you, sir.
Your peace offer is a fiction.
That is not a denial.
It is a lawyer's dodge!
Mr. Haddam, is your faction satisfied?
The conservative Republican
faction is satisfied.
And we thank Mr. Lincoln.
I move to table Mr. Wood's motion.
Mr. Colfax, I order the main question.
A motion has been made to bring the bill
for the 13th Amendment to a vote.
Do I hear a second?
I second the motion.
So moved, so ordered.
The Clerk will now...
Quiet, please!
The Clerk will now
call the roll for the voting.
We begin with Connecticut.
Mr. Augustus Benjamin,
on the matter of this amendment,
how say you?
Mr. Arthur Bentleigh.
Mr. John Ellis, how say you?
- What!
Missouri next. Mr. Walter Appleton.
I vote no.
Mr. Josiah Burton.
Beanpole Burton is pleased to vote yea!
The State of New Jersey.
- Mr. Nehemiah Cleary.
- No!
Mr. James Martinson.
Mr. Martinson has delegated me
to say he is indisposed.
And he abstains.
Mr. Austin J. Roberts.
Also indisposed, also abstaining.
Illinois concluded.
Mr. Harold Hollister. How say you?
Mr. Hutton.
Mr. William Hutton. Cast your vote.
William Hutton,
remembering at this moment
his beloved brother Frederick
votes against the amendment.
Webster Allen votes no.
- Webster Allen,
Illinois, Democrat,
votes no.
Halberd Law, Indiana, Democrat,
votes no.
Archibald Moran, yes.
Ambrose Baylor, yes.
Mr. Walter H. Washburn.
Votes no.
And Mr. George Yeaman, how say you?
My vote ties us.
Sir, Mr. Yeaman,
I didn't hear your vote.
I said "Aye", Mr. McPherson!
Order in my chamber!
Mr. McPherson, you may proceed.
Mr. Clay R. Hawkins of Ohio.
- Goddamn it, I'm voting yes.
I don't care, you shoot me dead!
You shoot me dead! I am voting yes!
Mr. Edwin F. LeClerk.
Oh, to hell with it.
Shoot me dead, too! Yes!
I mean...
Abstention. Abstention!
Spineless! No gender.
Mr. Alexander Coffroth.
I vote
James Brooks...
Josiah Grenelle...
Meyer Strauss...
- Mr. Joseph Marstern.
- Nay.
- Mr. Chilton A. Elliot.
- No!
- Mr. Daniel G. Stuart.
- I vote yes.
- Mr. Howard Guilfoyle.
- Yea.
- John F. McKenzie.
- Yea.
- Andrew E. Fink.
- Nay.
- Mr. John A. Castle.
- Yea.
- Mr. Hanready.
- Nay.
- And Mr. Rufus Warren?
- Yea.
The roll call concludes.
The voting is completed. Now...
Mr. Clerk, please call my name.
I want to cast a vote.
I object.
The Speaker doesn't vote.
The Speaker may vote if he so chooses.
It is highly unusual, sir.
This isn't usual, Mr. Pendleton.
This is history.
How does Mr. Schuyler Colfax vote?
Aye, of course.
The final vote.
Eight absent or not voting.
Fifty-six votes against.
One hundred and nineteen votes for.
With a margin of two votes...
We chose great leadership.
We'll rally round the flag, boys
We'll rally once again
Shouting the battle cry of freedom
We will rally from the hillside
We'll gather from the plain
Shouting the battle cry of freedom
The Union forever!
Hurrah, boys, hurrah!
Down with the traitor
And up with the star
Shout, shout the battle cry of Freedom!
Congratulations, Mr. Chairman.
The bill, Mr. McPherson. May I?
The Union forever!
Hurrah, boys, hurrah!
That's, that's the official bill.
I'll return it in the morning.
but unharmed.
Shouting the battle cry of freedom
We are springing to the call
Of the loyal, true and brave
Shouting the battle cry of freedom
And we'll fill our vacant ranks
With a million freemen more
Shouting the battle cry of freedom
The Union forever!
Hurrah, boys, hurrah!
Down with the traitor
And up with the star
A gift for you.
The greatest measure
of the 19th century,
passed by corruption,
aided and abetted by
the purest man in America.
I wish you had been present.
- I wish I'd been.
- It was a spectacle.
You can't bring your
housekeeper to the House.
I won't give them gossip.
This is enough.
This is...
It's more than enough for now.
Read it to me again, my love.
- "Proposed..."
- And adopted.
an amendment to
the Constitution of the United States."
Section One.
"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."
Section Two.
"Congress shall have power
to enforce this amendment
by appropriate legislation."
Let me be blunt.
Will the Southern states
resume their former position
in the Union
speedily enough to enable us
to block ratification to this here
I'd like peace immediately.
Yes, and?
I'd like your states restored to
their practical relations
with the Union immediately.
If this could be given to me in writing,
as Vice President of the Confederacy,
I'd bring that document
with celerity, to Jefferson Davis.
And we can discuss reconstruction.
Surrender won't be thought of.
Unless you've assured us, in writing,
that we'll be readmitted
in time to block this amendment.
This is the arrogant demand
of a conqueror.
You'll not be
a conquered people, Mr. Hunter.
You will be citizens.
Returned to the laws and
the guarantees of rights
of the Constitution.
Which now extinguishes slavery.
And with it, our economy.
All our laws will be determined by
a Congress of vengeful Yankees.
All our rights will be subject
to a Supreme Court
benched by bloody Republican radicals.
All our traditions will be obliterated.
We won't know ourselves anymore.
We ain't here to discuss reconstruction.
We have no legal basis
for that discussion.
But I don't want to deal falsely.
The Northern states
will ratify, most of them.
As I figure it, it remains for
two of the Southern states
to do the same,
even after all are readmitted.
And I've been working on that.
Tennessee and Louisiana.
Arkansas, too, most likely.
It'll be ratified.
Slavery, sir... It's done.
If we submit ourselves to law, Alex,
even submit to losing freedoms,
the freedom to oppress, for instance
we may discover other freedoms
previously unknown to us.
Had you kept faith
with the democratic process,
as frustrating as that can be...
Come, sir.
Spare us, at least, these pieties.
Did you defeat us with ballots?
How have you held your Union together?
Through democracy?
How many hundreds
of thousands have died
during your administration?
Your Union, sir, is bonded
in cannon fire and death.
It may be you're right.
But say all we done is show the world
that democracy isn't chaos.
That there is a great, invisible strength
in a people's union.
Say we've shown that a people
can endure awful sacrifice
and yet cohere.
Mightn't that save at least
the idea of democracy to aspire to?
Eventually to become worthy of?
At all rates, whatever may be proven
by blood and sacrifice
must have been proved by now.
Shall we stop this bleeding?
Once he surrenders,
send his boys back to their homes
and their farms, their shops.
Yes, sir.
As we discussed.
Liberality all around, not punishment.
I don't want that.
And their leaders,
Jeff and the rest of them,
they escape, leave the country
while my back's turned,
that wouldn't upset me none.
When peace comes,
it mustn't just be hangings.
By outward appearance
you're 10 years older
than you were a year ago.
Some weariness has bit at my bones.
I never seen the like of it before,
what I seen today.
Never seen the like of it before.
You always knew that.
What this was going to be.
Intimate and ugly.
You must have needed to see it close
when you decided to come down here.
We've made it possible for
one another to do terrible things.
We've won the war.
Now you have to lead us out of it.
You have an itch to travel?
Mm-hmm. I'd like that.
To the West, by rail.
The Holy Land.
Awfully pious for a man
who takes his wife out
buggy-riding on Good Friday.
Where David and Solomon walked.
I dream of walking in that ancient city.
All anyone will remember of me
is I was crazy and
I ruined your happiness.
Anyone thinks that
doesn't understand, Molly.
When they look at you,
at what it cost to live at the heart of this,
they'll wonder at it.
They'll wonder at you.
They should.
But they should also look at
the wretched woman by your side
if they want to understand
what this was truly like.
For the ordinary person.
For anyone other than you.
You must try to be happier.
We must, both of us.
We've been so miserable for so long.
I did say some colored men...
The intelligent, the educated, and the
veterans. I qualified it.
Mr. Stevens is furious.
He wants to know why you qualified it.
No one heard
the intelligent or educated part.
All they heard was the first time
any president has ever made mention
of Negro voting.
Still, I wish I'd mentioned it
in a better speech.
Mr. Stevens also wants to know
why you didn't make a better speech.
Mrs. Lincoln is
waiting in the carriage.
She wants me to remind you
of the hour, and that
you'll have to pick up
Miss Harris and Major Rathbone.
- Am I in trouble?
- No, sir.
Thank you, Mr. Slade.
I suppose it's time to go.
Though I would rather stay.
The President has been shot!
The President
has been shot! At Ford's Theater!
No. No!
It's 7:22 in the morning.
Saturday, the 15th of April.
It's all over.
The President is no more.
Now he belongs to the ages.
Fondly do we hope,
fervently do we pray,
that this mighty scourge of war,
may speedily pass away.
Yet if God wills that it continue
until all the wealth piled
by the bondman's 250 years
of unrequited toil shall be sunk
and until every drop of blood
drawn with the lash
shall be paid by another
drawn with the sword
as was said 3,000 years ago,
so still it must be said,
"The judgments of the Lord
are true and righteous altogether."
With malice toward none,
with charity for all,
with firmness in the right,
as God gives us to see the right,
let us strive on to finish
the work we are in,
to bind up the nation's wounds,
to care
for him who shall have borne the battle
and for his widow
and his orphan,
to do all which may achieve and cherish
a just and a lasting peace
among ourselves
and with all nations.