Lincoln Movie Quotes: Intelligent Character Study (Total Quotes: 83)


In this is very un-Speilberg movie, Lincoln movie quotes deliver an engrossing and intellectual look at the last months of Lincoln's life. This movie isn't a biography as such, instead it gives us a mesmerizing characterization of the man during a very important period and focuses on Lincoln's role in the long process of amending the United States constitution for the thirteenth time to abolish slavery, grant African Americans equality and in turn ending the Civil War. Daniel Day-Lewis, giving yet another masterful performance, makes us see the human side of Lincoln rather than this iconic figure that everyone knows with all his imperfections displayed. And it's not just Day-Lewis that delivers a compelling performance, pretty much all the characters represented here are given their moment to shine making this very talky movie a gripping character tale. The dialogue is smart and highly relevant but not without its flaws, for instance some scenes involving Lincoln's personal life can feel a bit overblown. Despite the flaws, Lincoln is a richly detailed movie and the best way to view it is to go into it fully prepared for the heavy dialogue!


Our Rating:

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by:
Tony Kushner (screenplay)
Doris Kearns Goodwin (book "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln")
Starring:
Daniel Day-Lewis - Abraham Lincoln
Sally Field - Mary Todd Lincoln
David Strathairn - William Seward
Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Robert Lincoln
James Spader - W.N. Bilbo
Hal Holbrook - Preston Blair
Tommy Lee Jones - Thaddeus Stevens
John Hawkes - Robert Latham
Jackie Earle Haley - Alexander Stephens
Bruce McGill - Edwin Stanton
Tim Blake Nelson - Richard Schell
Joseph Cross - John Hay
Jared Harris - Ulysses S. Grant
Lee Pace - Fernando Wood
Peter McRobbie - George Pendleton
Gulliver McGrath - Tad Lincoln
Gloria Reuben - Elizabeth Keckley
Jeremy Strong - John Nicolay
Michael Stuhlbarg - George Yeaman
Boris McGiver - Alexander Coffroth
David Costabile - James Ashley
Stephen Spinella - Asa Vintner Litton
Walton Goggins - Clay Hutchins
David Warshofsky - William Hutton
Colman Domingo - Private Harold Green
David Oyelowo - Corporal Ira Clark
Lukas Haas - First White Soldier
Dane DeHaan - Second White Soldier

Lincoln Quotes Page  1 | 2

[first lines; we see a battle taking place in the rain with white and black soldiers killing each other]
Private Harold Green: [voice over] Some of us was in the Second Kansas Colored. We fought the rebs at Jenkins' Ferry last April, just after they'd killed every Negro soldier they captured at Poison Springs. So at Jenkins' Ferry, we decided warn't taking 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.
[we see the soldier talking to Lincoln, who is sitting as it rains facing the soldiers]
Abraham Lincoln: What's your name, soldier?
Private Harold Green: Private Harold Green, sir.
Corporal Ira Clark: I'm Corporal Ira Clark, sir. Fifth Massachusetts Cavalry. We're waiting over there. We're leaving our horses behind, and shipping out with the 24th Infantry for the assault next week on Wilmington.



[to Harold]
Abraham Lincoln: How long have you been a soldier?
Private Harold Green: Two year, sir.
Abraham Lincoln: Second Kansas Colored Infantry, they fought bravely at Jenkins' Ferry.
Private Harold Green: That's right, sir.
Corporal Ira Clark: They killed a thousand rebel soldiers, sir. They were very brave. And making three dollars less each month than white soldiers.
[Ira starts stepping closer towards Lincoln]
Private Harold Green: Us Second Kansas boys....
Corporal Ira Clark: Another three dollars subtracted from our pay for our uniforms.
Lincoln QuotesPrivate Harold Green: That was true, yes, sir, but that changed...
Corporal Ira Clark: Equal pay now, but still no commissioned Negro officers.
Abraham Lincoln: I am aware of that, Corporal Clark.
Corporal Ira Clark: Yes, sir, that's good that you're aware, sir. It's only that...
[to Lincoln, trying to change the subject]
Private Harold Green: Do you think the Wilmington attack is gonna be...
Corporal Ira Clark: 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.
[Lincoln smiles]
Abraham Lincoln: What'll you do after the war, Corporal Clark?
Corporal Ira Clark: Work, sir. Perhaps you'll hire me.
Abraham Lincoln: Perhaps I will.
Corporal Ira Clark: But you should know, sir, that I get sick at the smell of bootblack and I cannot cut hair.
Abraham Lincoln: I've yet to find a man could cut mine so it'd make any difference.
Private Harold Green: You got springy hair for a white man.
[Lincoln laughs]
Abraham Lincoln: Yes, I do. My last barber hanged himself. And the one before that. Left me his scissors in his will.
[Harold laughs]



[two white soldiers come up towards Lincoln as he finishes talking to Harold and Clark]
First White Soldier: President Lincoln, sir?
Abraham Lincoln: Evening, boys.
Second White Soldier: We saw you. We were at uh...
First White Soldier: We was at Gettysburg!
Private Harold Green: You boys fight at Gettysburg?
First White Soldier: No, we didn't fight there. We just signed up last month. We saw him two years ago at the cemetery dedication.
[to Lincoln]
Second White Soldier: Yeah, we heard you speak. We...uh, damn, damn, damn! Uh, hey, how tall are you anyway?
First White Soldier: Jeez, shut up!
Abraham Lincoln: Could you hear what I said?
First White Soldier: No, sir, not much, it was...
[the second soldier starts reciting]
Second White Soldier: '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.'
Abraham Lincoln: That's good, thank you.
[the first soldier continues reciting]
First White Soldier: '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...we are...we are met on a great battlefield of that war.'
Abraham Lincoln: That's good. Thank you.
[the second solider then continues reciting]
Second White Soldier: 'We have 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. It is...'
[he chokes up a little]
First White Soldier: His uncles, they died on the second day of fighting.
Second White Soldier: I know the last part. 'It is, uh...it is rather...'
[a soldier calls out for the soldiers to move out]
Abraham Lincoln: Boys, best go and find your company. Thank you.
First White Soldier: Thank you, sir. God bless you!
[he salutes Lincoln]
Abraham Lincoln: God bless you too. God bless you.
[the two soldiers turn and move out to join their company]



[as the soldiers start moving out, Lincoln stands, then Clark starts reciting]
Lincoln QuotesCorporal Ira Clark: 'That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.'
[Clark turns and starts walking away as he continues to recite]
Corporal Ira Clark: '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.'
[Lincoln watches Clark as he walks off into the fog]



[January 1865 - Two months have passed since Abraham Lincoln's re-election, the American Civil War is now in its fourth year; we seee Lincoln staring out towards a barely discernible horizon, which is only visible by a flickering glowing light recedinf faster than the approaching ship]
Abraham Lincoln: [voice over] It's night time. The ship's moved by some terrible power, at a terrific speed. 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.



[at the White House Lincoln sits in a chair and describes a dream he's had to his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln]
Abraham Lincoln: 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.
Mary Todd Lincoln: 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.
Abraham Lincoln: How's the coconut?
Mary Todd Lincoln: Beyond description.
[Mary touches her forehead]
Mary Todd Lincoln: Almost two years, nothing mends. Another casualty of the war. Who wants to listen to a useless woman grouse about her carriage accident?
Abraham Lincoln: I do.
Mary Todd Lincoln: 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.
Abraham Lincoln: It was most probably an accident.
Mary Todd Lincoln: It was an assassin. Whose intended target was you.
Abraham Lincoln: How are the uh... plans coming along for the big shindy?
Mary Todd Lincoln: I don't wanna talk about parties! You don't care about parties.
Abraham Lincoln: Not much but they're a necessary hinderance.



Mary Todd Lincoln: 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?
[Lincoln closes the file he had in his hands]
Mary Todd Lincoln: You're gonna try to get the amendment passed in the House of Representatives, before the term ends, before the Inauguration?
Abraham Lincoln: Don't spend too much money on the flubdubs.
[Lincoln stand and Mary goes up to him]
Mary Todd Lincoln: No one's 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.
[Lincoln doesn't reply or look at her, Mary turns away from him]
Mary Todd Lincoln: Did you remember Robert's coming home for the reception?
[Lincoln nods]
Mary Todd Lincoln: I knew you'd forget.
[Mary closes the bedroom window and turns to Lincoln who is now walking out of the room]
Mary Todd Lincoln: That's the ship you're sailing on. The Thirteenth Amendment. You needn't tell me I'm right. I know I am.
[as Lincoln walks out of the room he runs into Mary's dressmaker]
Abraham Lincoln: It's late, Mrs. Keckley.
[referring to the dress she's carrying]
Elizabeth Keckley: Oh, she needs this for the grand reception.
[Lincoln leans forward and looks at the large beaded necklace]
Elizabeth Keckley: It's slow work.
Abraham Lincoln: Good night.
[Lincoln starts to walk off, as Mrs. Keckley is about enter Mary's room she turns to Lincoln]
Elizabeth Keckley: Did you tell her a dream?
[Lincoln doesn't reply and walks off]



[Lincoln goes into his office and finds his young son, Tad, asleep on the floor by the fireplace, several slave plates of photographs are next to Tad, Lincoln sees that they are of young African American children who were up for auction, Lincoln then wakes his son up and carries him to bed]
Tad Lincoln: Papa...?
Abraham Lincoln: Hmm?
Tad Lincoln: Papa, I wanna see Willie.
Abraham Lincoln: Me too, Taddie. But we can't.
Tad Lincoln: Why not?
Abraham Lincoln: Willie's gone. Three years now. He's gone.



[A new flagpole is being dedicated, Lincoln takes a piece of paper from inside his hat starts reading from it, addressing the crowd]
Abraham Lincoln: 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.
[he puts the paper away back in his hat]
Abraham Lincoln: That's my speech.
[Lincoln smiles and the crowd laughs and claps for him and he starts raising the flag]



[riding in the carriage with Lincoln]
William Seward: 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.
Abraham Lincoln: Only twenty?
William Seward: Only twenty!
Abraham Lincoln: We can find twenty votes.
William Seward: Twenty House Democrats who will vote to abolish slavery. In my opinion...
Abraham Lincoln: To which I always listen.
William Seward: Or pretend to.
Abraham Lincoln: With all three of my ears.
William Seward: We'll win the war soon. It's inevitable, isn't it?
Abraham Lincoln: Well, it ain't won yet.
William Seward: 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 rats' nest in there, it's the same gang of talentless hicks and hacks who rejected the amendment ten months ago. We'll lose.
[Lincoln smiles]
Abraham Lincoln: I like our chances now.



[at Lincoln's office in the White House, Lincoln is signing papers his secretary is giving him]
William Seward: 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 fifty percent...
Abraham Lincoln: Fifty-six.
William Seward: We need Democratic support. There's none to be had.
Abraham Lincoln: Since the House last voted on the amendment there's been an election, and sixty-four Democrats lost their House seats in November. That's sixty-four Democrats looking for work come March.
William Seward: I know.
Abraham Lincoln: They don't need to worry about re-election, they can vote however it suits 'em.
William Seward: But we can't, uh...buy the vote for the amendment. It's too important.
[there's a knock at the office door and Hay goes to open the door]
Abraham Lincoln: I said nothing of buying anything. We need twenty votes was all I said. Start of my second term, plenty of positions to fill.



[another one of Lincoln's secretaries enters Lincoln's office]
John Nicolay: Mr. President, may I present Mr. and Mrs. Jolly who've come from Missouri to...
Mr. Jolly: From Jeff City, President.
[Lincoln shakes Jolly's hand]
Abraham Lincoln: Mr. Jolly. Ma'am. This here by the fire is Secretary of State Seward.
[Seward nods]
Abraham Lincoln: 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!
[Lincoln smiles, but the Jollys look at Lincoln with blank faces, not getting it, Seward gestures for Jolly to speak]
Mr. Jolly: They's only one tollbooth 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 tollgate to my granpap and Quincy Adams give my pap a letter saying it's our'n for keeps. Mrs. Jolly got the...
[looking at his wife]
Mr. Jolly: Show Mr. Lincoln the Quincy Adams letter.
Abraham Lincoln: Oh, that's unnecessary, Mrs. Jolly. Just tell me what you want from me.
[as Seward is smoking near Jolly, he starts coughing from the smoke and his wife tries to fan the smoke away]
Mrs. Jolly: Mr. Jolly's emphysema don't care for the cigar.



William Seward: Madame. Do you know about the proposed Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution?
Mrs. Jolly: Yes, sir, everybody knows of it. That the President favors it.
William Seward: Do you?
Mrs. Jolly: We do.
William Seward: You know that it abolishes slavery?
Mrs. Jolly: Yes, sir. I know it.
William Seward: And is that why you favor it?
Mrs. Jolly: 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 up. The war can finish then.
William Seward: If the war finished first, before we end slavery, would...
Mrs. Jolly: President Lincoln says the war won't stop unless we finish slavery...
William Seward: But if it did. The South is exhausted. If they run out of uh...bullets and men, would you still want your, uh...
[to Lincoln]
William Seward: Who's your representative?
Abraham Lincoln: Jeff City? That's, uh...Congressman Burton?
Mrs. Jolly: 'Beanpole' Burton, I mean, Josiah Burton, yes, sir!
Abraham Lincoln: A Republican. Undecided on the question of the amendment, I believe. Perhaps you could call on him and inform him of your enthusiasm.
Mrs. Jolly: Yeah.
William Seward: Madam? If the rebels surrender next week, would you, at the end of this month, want Congressman Burton to vote for the Thirteenth Amendment?
[Mrs. Jolly hesitates for a moment]
Mrs. Jolly: If that was how it was, no more war and all, I reckon Mr. Jolly much prefer not to have Congress pass the amendment.
William Seward: Mm.
[Seward looks at Lincoln]
William Seward: And uh...why is that?
Mr. Jolly: Niggers.
Mrs. Jolly: If he don't have to let some Alabama coon come up to Missouri, steal his chickens, and his job, he'd much prefer that.
[Lincoln looking disappointed turns, Seward takes the letter from Mrs. Jolly and hands it to him]
William Seward: The people. I begin to see why you're in such a great hurry to put it through.
[to Jolly]
Abraham Lincoln: Would you let me study this letter, sir, about the tollbooth? Come back to me in the morning and we'll consider what the law says.
[Lincoln stands and turns to the Jollys]
Abraham Lincoln: And be sure to visit 'Beanpole' and tell him that you support passage of the Amendment. As a military necessity.
Mr. Jolly: Thank you.
[Nicolay escorts the Jollys out]
Abraham Lincoln: Oh, Nicolay? When you have a moment.
[Seward closes the office door]



[after the Jolly's leave the office]
William Seward: If procuring votes with offers of employment is what you intend, I'll fetch a friend from Albany who can supply the skulking men gifted at this kind of shady work. Spare me the indignity of actually speaking to Democrats. Spare you the exposure and liability.
[there's a knock at the door]
Abraham Lincoln: Pardon me, that's a distress signal, which I am bound by solemn oath to respond to.
[Lincoln opens the door and Tad enters]
Tad Lincoln: Tom Pendel took away the glass camera plates of slaves Mr. Gardner sent over because Tom says mama says they're too distressing, but...
Abraham Lincoln: You had nightmares all night, mama's right to...
Tad Lincoln: But I'll have worse nightmares if you don't let me look at the plates again!
Abraham Lincoln: Perhaps.
[Lincoln walks Tad over to his desk and they sit]
William Seward: We 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.
Abraham Lincoln: Send over to Blair House. Ask Preston Blair can I call on him around five o'clock.
William Seward: God help you. God alone knows what he'll ask you to give him.



[Lincoln meets with Preston Blair at his house in the hopes of persuading him to lend his support to the Amendment]
Abraham Lincoln: If the Blairs tell 'em to, no Republican will balk at voting for the amendment.
Montgomery Blair: No conservative Republican is what you mean.
Preston Blair: All Republicans ought to be conservative, I founded this party in my own Goddamned home to be a conservative antislavery party, not a hobbyhorse for Goddamned radical abolitionists and...
Elizabeth Blair Lee: Damp down the dyspepsia, daddy, you'll frighten the child.
[to Lincoln]
Montgomery Blair: 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!
Abraham Lincoln: Yes, sir, I do.
Montgomery Blair: Well, what do we get?
Elizabeth Blair Lee: Wooh! Blunt! Your manners, Monty, must be why Mr. Lincoln pushed you out of his cabinet.
Preston Blair: He was pushed out...
Montgomery Blair: I wasn't pushed!
Elizabeth Blair Lee: Oh of course you weren't.
Preston Blair: He was pushed out to placate the Goddamn radical abolishonists!
Montgomery Blair: I agreed to resign.
[nodding towards Tad]
Elizabeth Blair Lee: Oh Daddy, please! Daddy.
[to Tad]
Preston Blair: Oh, you don't mind, boy, do you?
Abraham Lincoln: He spends his days with soldiers.
Tad Lincoln: They taught me a song!
Preston Blair: Did they?
[Blair laughs]
Preston Blair: Soldiers know all manner of songs. How's your brother Bob?
[Blair holds out his hands and Tad comes over and holds his hands]
Tad Lincoln: He's at school now, but he's coming to visit in four days. For the shindy.
Preston Blair: At school! Ain't that fine. Good he's not in the army.
Tad Lincoln: He wants to be, but mama said he can't...
Preston Blair: Dangerous life, soldiering.
Elizabeth Blair Lee: Your mama is wise to keep him clean out of that.
Preston Blair: Now your daddy knows that what I want, in return for all the help I give him, is to go down to Richmond like he said I could, as soon as Savannah fell, and talk to Jefferson Davis. An give me terms I can offer to Jefferson Davis to start negotiating for peace. He'll talk to me.
Montgomery Blair: Conservative members of your party wants 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.
Preston Blair: Our Republicans ain't abolitionists. Now we can't tell our people they can vote yes on abolishing slavery unless at the same time we can tell 'em that you're seekin' a negotiated peace.
[later on that night we see Blair leaving in his carriage to go and begin his negotiations in secret]



[the cabinet has assembled in Lincoln' Office at the White House]
Abraham Lincoln: Thunder forth, God of War!
Edwin Stanton: We'll commence our assault on Wilmington from the sea.
[Stanton holds up the edge of the map which is singed]
Edwin Stanton: Why is this burnt? Was the boy playing with it?
Abraham Lincoln: It got took by a breeze several nights back.
Edwin Stanton: This is an official War Department map!
Lincoln QuotesWilliam Seward: And the entire cabinet's waiting to hear what it portends.
Gideon Welles: A bombardment. From the largest fleet the Navy has ever assembled.
Abraham Lincoln: Old Neptune! Shake thy hoary locks!
[Welles stands and points to the positions on the map]
Gideon Welles: Fifty-eight ships are underway, of every tonnage and firing range.
Edwin Stanton: We'll keep up a steady barrage. Our first target is Fort Fisher. It defends Wilmington Port.
James Speed: A steady barrage?
Edwin Stanton: A hundred shells a minute. Till they surrender.
William Fessenden: Dear God!
Gideon Welles: Yes. Yes.
Abraham Lincoln: Wilmington's their last open seaport. Therefore...
Edwin Stanton: Wilmington falls, Richmond falls after.
William Seward: And the war is done.
[the rest of the cabinet applaud by table slapping]



[as the cabinet meeting continues, Usher stands in frustration and looks at Lincoln]
John Usher: 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 recipitated 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 it's... to what's likely to be its premature demise?
[there's a pause at the others agree]
John Usher: You signed the Emancipation Proclamation, you've done all that can be expected...
James Speed: The Emancipation Proclamation's merely a war measure. After the war the courts'll make a meal of it.
John Usher: When Edward Bates was Attorney General, he felt confident in it enough to allow you to sign...
James Speed: Different lawyers, different opinions. It frees slaves as a military exigent, not in any other...
Abraham Lincoln: I don't recall Bates being any too certain about the legality of my Proclamation, just it wasn't downright criminal.
[Lincoln laughs as do some of the other cabinet members]
Abraham Lincoln: Somewhere's in between. Back when I rode the legal circuit in Illinois I defended a woman from Metamora named Melissa Goings, 77 years old, they said she murdered her husband, he was 83. He was choking her, and uh...she grabbed a hold of a stick of fire-wood and fractured his skull, and he died. In his will he wrote.
[Lincoln laughs as he speaks]
Abraham Lincoln: 'I expect she has killed me. If I get over it, I will have revenge.'
[this gets another laugh]
Abraham Lincoln: 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.
[this gets another laugh from everyone in the room]
Abraham Lincoln: Mrs. Goings was seen no more in Metamora. Enough justice had been done, they even forgave the bondsman her bail.
John Usher: I'm afraid I don't see...
Abraham Lincoln: 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 that 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. But 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 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, least not yet. Then Negroes in those states are slaves, hence property, hence my war powers allow me to confiscate 'em as such. So I confiscated 'em. But if I'm a respecter of states' laws, how then can I legally free 'em with my Proclamation, as I done, unless I'm canceling states' laws?
[Lincoln pauses for a moment]
Abraham Lincoln: 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.



[as Lincoln continues his speech to his cabinet members]
Abraham Lincoln: Two years ago I proclaimed these people emancipated, 'then, thenceforward and forever free.' Well 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 Thirteenth Amendment through the House, and 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.
Lincoln Quotes[there's a moment of silence]
Abraham Lincoln: As the preacher said, I could write shorter sermons but once I start I
get too lazy to stop.
[this gets a laugh from the cabinet members; Usher stands and addresses Lincoln]
John Usher: It seems to me, sir, you're describing precisely the sort of dictator the Democrats have been howling about.
James Speed: Dictators aren't susceptible to law.
John Usher: Neither is he! He just said as much! Ignoring the courts? Twisting meanings? What...what reins him in from...from...
Abraham Lincoln: Well, the people do that, I suppose. I signed the Emancipation Proclamation a year and 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 'em a year and half to think about it. And they re-elected me. And come February the first, I intend to sign the Thirteenth Amendment.



[Ashley enters Lincoln's office, he sees Tad sitting by the window reading a book, then Lincoln enters with Seward]
Abraham Lincoln: Well, Mr. Representative Ashley! Tell us the news from the Hill.
[Lincoln shakes Ashley's hand]
James Ashley: Ah! Well, the news...
Abraham Lincoln: Why for instance is this thus, and what is the reason for this thusness?
William Seward: James, we want you to bring the anti-slavery amendment to the floor for debate immediately...
James Ashley: Excuse me. What?
William Seward: You are the amendment's manager, are you not?
James Ashley: I am, of course. But, immediately?
William Seward: And 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 we trust...
James Ashley: 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...
Abraham Lincoln: We're whalers, Mr. Ashley!
[Lincoln stands and puts his hands on Ashley's shoulders]
James Ashley: Whalers? As in, uh...whales?
Abraham Lincoln: We've been chasing this whale for a long time. We've 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!
William Seward: On the 31st of this month. Of this year. Put the amendment up for a vote.
[Ashley stares blankly at Seward and Lincoln]



[in Thaddeus Stevens office]
Senator Bluff Wade: Whalers?!
James Ashley: That's what he said.
Senator Bluff Wade: The man's never been near a whale ship in his life!
[turning to Stevens]
Senator Bluff Wade: Withdraw radical support, force him to abandon this scheme, whatever he's up to. He...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 ten minutes.
Asa Vintner Litton: He's using the threat of the amendment to frighten the rebels into an immediate surrender.
Schuyler Colfax: I imagine we'd rejoice to see that.
Asa Vintner Litton: Will you rejoice when the Southern states have re-joined 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.
[turning to Stevens]
Asa Vintner Litton: Why are we co-operating with...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.
Senator Bluff Wade: He's said he'd welcome the South back with all its slaves in chains.
James Ashley: Three years ago he said that! To calm the border states when we were...
Thaddeus Stevens: I don't.
[to Vintner Litton]
Thaddeus Stevens: You said 'we all know what he'll do.' I don't know.
Asa Vintner Litton: You know he isn't to be trusted.
Thaddeus Stevens: Trust? Oh, I'm sorry, I was under the misapprehension your chosen profession was politics. I've never trusted the President. I never trust anyone. But hasn't he surprised you?
Asa Vintner Litton: No, Mr. Stevens, he hasn't.
Thaddeus Stevens: 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.
[he gets his cane and stands and walks to the door]
Thaddeus Stevens: 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.
[Stevens leaves and shuts the door]



[Seward meets with Latham, Schell and Bilbo in a tavern]
William Seward: The President is never to be mentioned. Nor I. You're paid for your discretion.
W.N. Bilbo: Hell, you can have that for nothin', what we need money for is bribes, speed things up.
William Seward: No. Nothing strictly illegal.
Robert Latham: It's not illegal to bribe Congressmen. They starve otherwise.
Richard Schell: I have explained to Mr. Bilbo and Mr. Latham that we're offering patronage jobs to the Dems who vote yes. Jobs and nothing more.
William Seward: That's correct.
W.N. Bilbo: Congressmen come cheap. Few thousand bucks'll buy you all you need.
William Seward: The President would be unhappy to hear you did that.
W.N. Bilbo: Well, will he be unhappy if we lose?
[a waitress brings them their food and leaves]
William Seward: The money I managed to raise for this endeavor is only for your fees, your food and lodgings.
W.N. Bilbo: Uh-huh. If that squirrel-infested attic you've quartered us in's any measure, you ain't raised much.
Richard Schell: Shall we get to work?
[Bilbo takes a mallet to a crab and starts smashing it]



[January 9 - The House of Debate begins with Fernando Wood being recognized first]
Fernando Wood: 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!
[Price stands and speaks loudly]
Hiram Price: 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!
[the members stand and applaud]
Fernando Wood: 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.
[Mary and Elizabeth Keckley sitting at the front row of the balcony watch the floor]
Fernando Wood: He claimed, as tyrants do, that the war's emergencies permitted him to turn our army...
[Mary looks over at Latham, Schell and Bilbo, also sitting on the front row of the balcony observing the floor; Latham whispers to Schell]
Robert Latham: New York delegation's looking decidedly uninspired.
[Wood carries on and points at Stevens]
Fernando Wood: ...and radical Republicanism's abolitionist fanaticism!
[the members on the floor stand and become outraged, Stevens remains seated]
Fernando Wood: His Emancipation Proclamation has obliterated millions of dollars' worth of personal property rights...
[observing the floor as Wood continues, Schell whispers to Latham]
Richard Schell: Over in Pennsylvania, who's the sweaty man eating his thumb?
Robert Latham: Unknown to me. Seems jumpy.
Richard Schell: Perhaps he'll jump. Cheering and booing.
[Mary watches the two with suspicion, Wood is continuing on his speech]
Fernando Wood: ...in squalor in our Northern cities!



[as Wood continues on his speech at The House of Debate]
Fernando Wood: But all that was not enough for this dictator, who now seeks to insinuate his miscegenist pollution...
W.N. Bilbo: Jesus, when's this son of liberty son of a bitch gonna sit down?
Richard Schell: John Ellis is going to break his watch if he doesn't stop.
[Wood continues his speech on the floor]
Fernando Wood: We are once again asked, nay, commanded, to consider a proposed thirteenth 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!
[the floor cheers and claps, as Wood continues his speech, Latham whispers to Schell and Bilbo]
Robert Latham: What's more interesting is how dismal and disgruntled Mr. Yeaman appears. He should be cheering right now.
W.N. Bilbo: Looks like he ate a bad oyster.



[Stevens interrupts Wood's speech]
Thaddeus Stevens: A point of order, Mr. Speaker, if you please? When will Mr. Wood...
Fernando Wood: Mr. Speaker, I still have the floor and the gentleman from Pennsylvania is out of order!
Thaddeus Stevens: 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 pleural capacities.
[the members on the floor laugh and there's applause from the Republicans]
Lincoln QuotesFernando Wood: 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!
[the Democrats cheer, Mary watches with concern and Mrs. Keckley looks uncomfortable]
Thaddeus Stevens: Slavery is the only insult to natural law, you fatuous nincompoop!
[the Republicans applaud]
George Pendleton: Order! Procedure! Mr. Speaker, Mr. Wood has the floor!
[Pendleton stands and addresses Stevens]
George Pendleton: Instruct us, Oh Great Commoner, what is unnatural, in your opinion? Niggrahs casting ballots? Niggrah representatives? Is that natural, Stevens? Intermarriage?
Thaddeus Stevens: What violates natural law? Slavery, and you, Pendleton, you insult God,
you unnatural noise!
[Stevens stands in anger, there's a mixture of reaction from the floor, Ashely addresses the speaker]
James Ashley: Please, use your gavel!
[the members on the floor disregard the gavel and continue their loud reactions]



[Tad is riding a small carriage attached to a goat through the White House corridor when Robert returns home from college, Tad runs into Robert's arms]
Tad Lincoln: You're back, you're back, you're back, you're back, you're back!
[Robert laughs as he embraces Tad]
Robert Lincoln: I am! And the goat got big.
[referring to his luggage]
Robert Lincoln: Here, help me get one of these to my room.
[referring to his mother]
Robert Lincoln: Is she in there?
Tad Lincoln: She's asleep, probably,
White House Petitioner: You need uh...help, sir?
Robert Lincoln: No, sir, I don't.
White House Petitioner: I can...
Robert Lincoln: No.
White House Petitioner: Could you bring your pa this letter I writ about my insolvency proceedings?
Robert Lincoln: Let it go please, thank you. You deliver your own Goddamned petition, thank you.
White House Petitioner: Please!
[the petitioner is stopped going any further by a soldier, Tad continues talking quickly to Robert as he walks down the corridor]
Tad Lincoln: They went to see Avonia Jones last night in a play about Israelites. Daddy's meeting with a famous scientist now and he's nervous because of how smart the man is and the man is angry about, 'cause there's a new book that Sam Beckwith says is about finches, and finches' beaks, about how they change, it takes years and years and years but...
[Mary enters the hall and sees Robert]
Mary Todd Lincoln: He's here! He's here! Mrs. Cuthbert! He's here!
[to Robert]
Mary Todd Lincoln: Robbie.
Robert Lincoln: Hi, mama.
Mary Todd Lincoln: Oh, Robbie! Robbie!
[Robert embraces her]
Robert Lincoln: Hey. Hey.
Mary Todd Lincoln: Oh!
[as she's embracing Robert, Mary notices Robert's luggage]
Mary Todd Lincoln: Well, You're only staying a few days. Why'd you pack all of that?
Robert Lincoln: Well, I...I don't know how long I'm...
[to Tad]
Mary Todd Lincoln: Go tell your father Robert's home!
Tad Lincoln: Mr. Nicolay says daddy's secluded with Mr. Blair.
Mary Todd Lincoln: Tell him anyway.
[Tad runs off]



[Mary holds Robert's face]
Mary Todd Lincoln: You forget to eat, exactly like him.
[Robert laughs]
Robert Lincoln: No.
Mary Todd Lincoln: You'll linger a few days extra, after the reception, before you go back to school.
Robert Lincoln: Well, I don't know if I'm gonna go back to school...
Mary Todd Lincoln: We'll fatten you up before you return to Boston.
Robert Lincoln: All right, mama.
Mary Todd Lincoln: Alright.
[she smiles at Robert]
Mary Todd Lincoln: Oh, Robbie.



[in Lincoln's office at the White House]
Preston Blair: Jefferson Davis is sending three delegates; Stephens, Hunter and Campbell. Vice President of the Confederacy, their 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, who 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'll die if you don't make peace. You must talk with these men!
Abraham Lincoln: I intend to, Preston. And in return, I must ask you...
Preston Blair: No, this is not horsetrading, this is life and...
Abraham Lincoln: ...to support our push for the amendment when it reaches the...
[there's a knock on the office door]
Abraham Lincoln: Not now!
[Robert enters]
Abraham Lincoln: Oh. Bob. I'm sorry.
[Lincoln shakes hands with Robert]
Abraham Lincoln: Welcome home.
Robert Lincoln: Thank you.
Abraham Lincoln: You've met Preston Blair.
Preston Blair: Looking fit, Bob. Harvard agrees with you.
Robert Lincoln: Mr. Blair.
Preston Blair: Fit and rested.
Abraham Lincoln: Just give us a moment please, Robert. Thank you.
[Lincoln turns to Preston and Robert feeling stung by being dismissed, abruptly leaves the room]
Preston Blair: I will procure your votes for you, as I promised. You've always kept your word to me. Those Southern men are coming.
[he takes Lincoln's hand]
Preston Blair: I beg you, in the name of Gentle Christ...
Abraham Lincoln: I understand.
Preston Blair: Talk peace with these men.
Abraham Lincoln: I understand, Preston.



[in a hotel room at night with Latham, Schell, Bilbo and Seward]
Robert Latham: We have one abstention so far.
Richard Schell: Jacob Graylor. He'd like to be Federal Revenue Assessor for the Fifth District of Pennsylvania.
Robert Latham: 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.
[Latham hesitates for a moment looking at Schell and Seward]
Robert Latham: Then, despite our abstention, to reach a two-thirds majority we remain 20 yeses short.
Richard Schell: For which we're seeking from among 64 lame duck Democrats. Fully 39 of these we deem unredeemable no votes.
W.N. Bilbo: The kind that hates niggers, hates God for making niggers.
Robert Latham: The Good Lord on High would despair of their souls.
William Seward: Thank you for that pithy explanation, Mr. Bilbo.
Richard Schell: We've abandoned these 39 to the Devil that possesses them. The remaining lame ducks, on whom we've been working with a purpose.
[Schell hands Latham a piece of paper with the name written on it]
Robert Latham: Charles Hanson.
[we see montage of how Latham, Schell and Bilbo encounter each Democrat politicians to convince them to switch their votes]
Robert Latham: Giles Stuart. Nelson Merrick. Homer Benson. And lastly...
[Bilbo retrieves a paper from the floor and reads from it]
W.N. Bilbo: Clay Hawkins. Of Ohio.



[Bilbo walks with Clay Hawkins in the woods with Hawkins holding the file with the politician's names]
Clay Hawkins: Tax collector for the Western Reserve. That...that pays handsomely.
W.N. Bilbo: Don't just reach for the highest branches. They sway in every breeze. Assistant Port Inspector of Marlston looks like the ticket to me.
Clay Hawkins: Uh...boats, they...they make me sick.
W.N. Bilbo: So just stand on the dock. Let the Assistant Assistant Port Inspector stomach go weak.
[Hawkins anxiously looks at the names in the file]



[at Lincoln's office]
William Seward: And lastly, Democratic yes vote number six. Hawkins from Ohio.
Abraham Lincoln: Six?
William Seward: Well, thus far. Plus Graylor's abstention. From tiny acorns and so on.
Abraham Lincoln: What did Hawkins get?
John Nicolay: Postmaster of the Millersburg Post Office.
Abraham Lincoln: He's selling himself cheap, ain't he?
William Seward: He wanted tax collector of the Western Reserve, a first-term congressman who couldn't manage re-election, I felt it unseemly and they bargained him down to Postmaster.
[to Nicolay]
William Seward: Scatter 'em over several rounds of appointments, so no one notices. And burn this ledger, please, after you're done.
[Lincoln stands]
Abraham Lincoln: Time for my public opinion bath. Might as well let 'em in. Nicolay helps [Lincoln put his overcoat on]
Abraham Lincoln: Seven yeses with Mr. Ellis. And thirteen to go.
William Seward: 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.
[Lincoln is silent]
William Seward: I, of course, told them you would never. Not without consulting me, you wouldn't. Because why on earth would you?



[after finding out Lincoln's peace plans are true]
William Seward: Why wasn't I consulted?! I'm Secretary of State! You...you...you informally send a reactionary dottard, to... What will happen, do you imagine, when these peace commissioners arrive?
Abraham Lincoln: We'll hear 'em out.
William Seward: Oh, splendid! And next the Democrats will invite 'em 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 'em, and all our work, all our preparing the ground for the vote, laid waste, for naught.
Lincoln QuotesAbraham Lincoln: The Blairs have promised support for the amendment if we listen to these people.
William Seward: Oh, the Blairs promise, do they? You think they'll keep their promise once we have heard these delegates and refused them? Which we will have to do, since their proposal most certainly will be predicated on keeping their slaves!
Abraham Lincoln: 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?
William Seward: It's either the amendment or this Confederate peace, you cannot have both.
Abraham Lincoln: 'If you can look into the seeds of time, And say which grain will grow and which will not, Speak then to me.'
William Seward: Oh, disaster. This is a disaster!
Abraham Lincoln: Time is a great thickener of things, Willum.
William Seward: Oh, yes, I suppose it is. Actually I have no idea what you mean by that.
[Lincoln stands]
Abraham Lincoln: Get me thirteen votes.
[speaking in a thick Kentucky accent]
Abraham Lincoln: Them fellers from Richmond ain't here yit.



[Robert and Tad are in Lincoln's bedroom as Lincoln is preparing to get dressed, Tad is looking at glass negatives of slaves with terrible scars from being whipped]
Robert Lincoln: 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 wanna be a lawyer...
Abraham Lincoln: It's a sturdy profession, and a useful one.
Robert Lincoln: Yes, and I want to be useful, but now, not afterwards!
[Slade hands Lincoln his gloves]
Abraham Lincoln: I ain't wearing them things, Mr. Slade, they never fit right.
William Slade: The missus will have you wear 'em. Don't think about leaving 'em.
Robert Lincoln: You're delaying, that's your favorite tactic.
[to Robert]
William Slade: Be useful and stop distracting him.
Robert Lincoln: You won't tell me no, but the war will be over in a month, and you know it will!
Abraham Lincoln: Well, I've found that prophesying is one of life's less prophet-able occupations!
[Slade laughs a little, Tad holds up a glass negative towards Robert]
Tad Lincoln: Why do some slaves cost more than others?
Robert Lincoln: Uh...if they're still young and healthy, if the women can still conceive, they'll pay more.
[to tad; referring to the glass plates]
Abraham Lincoln: Put 'em back in the box, you scoundrel. We'll return them to Mr. Gardner's studio day after next. Be careful with 'em, now!
[to Slade; referring to his his gloves]
Abraham Lincoln: These things should've stayed on the calf.
Tad Lincoln: When you were a slave, Mr. Slade, did they beat you?
William Slade: I was born a free man. Nobody beat me except I beat them right back.



[Mrs. Keckley enters Lincoln's room]
Elizabeth Keckley: Mr. Lincoln, could you come with me...
[to Tad]
William Slade: Mrs. Keckley was a slave. Ask her if she was beaten.
Tad Lincoln: Were you...?
Abraham Lincoln: Tad.
[Lincoln shakes his head]
Elizabeth Keckley: I was beaten with a fire shovel when I was younger than you.
[to Lincoln]
Elizabeth Keckley: You should go to Mrs. Lincoln. She's in Willie's room.
Robert Lincoln: She never goes in there.
[as Lincoln is heading out the door John Hay enters]
John Hay: The reception line is already stretching out the door.
[Robert looks at Hay's uniform as everyone leaves the room, Robert calls to Lincoln]
Robert Lincoln: See, I'll be the only man over fifteen and under sixty-five in this whole place not in uniform.
Tad Lincoln: I'm under fifteen...
[Tad points the uniform he's wearing, Robert leaves the room and closes the door in anger]



[Mary sat in Willie Lincoln's room holding a framed photograph of Willie, Lincoln enters and comes over to her]
Mary Todd Lincoln: 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.
Abraham Lincoln: I know.
Mary Todd Lincoln: Trying not to think about him. How will I manage?
Abraham Lincoln: Somehow, you will.
Mary Todd Lincoln: Somehow. Somehow. Somehow. Every party, every... And now, four years more in this terrible house reproaching us. He was a very sick little boy. We should've cancelled that reception, shouldn't we?
Abraham Lincoln: We didn't know how sick he was, Molly.
Mary Todd Lincoln: I knew, I knew. I saw that night he was dying.
Abraham Lincoln: Three years ago, the war was going so badly, and we had to put on a face.
Mary Todd Lincoln: But I saw Willie was dying. I saw him...
[Mary starts crying]
Abraham Lincoln: Molly.
[Lincoln takes her hand]
Abraham Lincoln: It's too hard.
[Lincoln kisses her hand]
Abraham Lincoln: Too hard.
[Mary stares up at him and Lincoln leaves]



[at the Grand Reception Mary and Lincoln greet their guests Charles Sumner and Ashley approach Mary]
Mary Todd Lincoln: Senator Sumner, it has been much too long.
[she shakes hands with Sumner]
Senator Charles Sumner: 'Oh, who can look on that celestial face and...'
[Mary cuts him off and looks at Ashley]
Mary Todd Lincoln: And...?
James Ashley: James Ashley, ma'am, we've met several times.
[she ignores Ashley and greets Stevens coming behind Ashley]
Mary Todd Lincoln: Praise Heavens, praise Heavens, just when I had abandoned hope of amusement, it's the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee!
Thaddeus Stevens: Mrs. Lincoln.
Mary Todd Lincoln: Madame President if you please!
[Stevens bows to her, Mary laughs]
Mary Todd Lincoln: Oh, don't convene another subcommittee to investigate me, sir! I'm teasing! Smile, Senator Wade.
Senator Bluff Wade: I believe I am smiling, Mrs. Lincoln.
Thaddeus Stevens: As long as your household accounts are in order, Madame, we'll have no need to investigate them.
Mary Todd Lincoln: You have always taken such a lively, even prosecutorial interest in my household accounts.
Thaddeus Stevens: Your household accounts have always been so interesting.
Mary Todd Lincoln: 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 in the turkey carpets. Mushrooms, green as the moon, sprouting from 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.
[Lincoln looks at his wife as she carries on her exchange, holding up the line of guest who are all waiting behind Stevens and his men]
Mary Todd Lincoln: 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.
[Robert, who's standing behind Mary, leans in to her]
Robert Lincoln: Mother?
Mary Todd Lincoln: What?
Robert Lincoln: You're creating a bottleneck.
Mary Todd Lincoln: 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.
[Mary smiles at Stevens and he holds the look]



[Lincoln and Stevens meet privately in the White House kitchen to discuss the Amendment]
Abraham Lincoln: Since we have the floor next in the debate, I thought I'd suggest you might...temper your contributions so as not to frighten our conservative friends?
Thaddeus Stevens: Ashley insists you're ensuring approval by dispensing patronage to otherwise undeserving Democrats.
Abraham Lincoln: Well, I can't ensure a single damn thing if you scare the whole House silly with talk of land appropriations and revolutionary tribunals and punitive thisses and thats...
Thaddeus Stevens: 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.
Abraham Lincoln: That's the untempered version of reconstruction. It's 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...
Thaddeus Stevens: For patience, I expect.
Abraham Lincoln: When the people disagree, bringing them together requires going slow till they're ready to make up the...
Thaddeus Stevens: I 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 'em. And I look a lot worse without the wig. The people elected me! To represent them! To lead them! And I lead! You ought to try it!
Abraham Lincoln: 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; then the border states would've gone over to the confederacy, the war would've 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.
[Stevens glares at him, then smiles]
Thaddeus Stevens: 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 toward 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.
Abraham Lincoln: A compass, I learnt when I was surveying, it'll...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?



[later that night, Lincoln helps Mary get undressed in her room]
Abraham Lincoln: Robert's gonna plead with us to let him enlist.
Mary Todd Lincoln: Make time to talk to Robbie. You only have time for Tad.
Abraham Lincoln: Well Tad's young.
Mary Todd Lincoln: So's Robert. Too young for the army.
Abraham Lincoln: Plenty of boys younger than Robert signing up.
Mary Todd Lincoln: Don't take Robbie. Don't let me lose my son.
[there's a knock on the door]
Mary Todd Lincoln: Go away! We're occupied!
[Lincoln opens the door]
John Nicolay: Secretary Stanton has sent over to tell you that as of half an hour ago, the shelling of Wilmington harbor has commenced.
[Lincoln leaves with Nicolay]



[in the War Department Telegraph Office]
Edwin Stanton: They cannot possibly maintain under this kind of an assault! Terry's got ten thousand men surrounding the Goddamned fort! Why doesn't he answer my cables?
Gideon Welles: Fort Fisher is a mountain of a building, Edwin.
Major Thompson Eckert: It's the largest fort they have, sir.
Gideon Welles: Twenty-two big seacoast guns on each rampart...
Major Thompson Eckert: They've been reinforcing it for the last two years...
Edwin Stanton: They've taken 17,000 shells since yesterday!
Major Thompson Eckert: They said...
Gideon Welles: The commander is an old goat.
Edwin Stanton: I want to hear that Fort Fisher's ours and Wilmington has fallen! Send another damn cable! The problem's their commander, Whiting. He engineered the fortress himself. The damned thing's his child; he'll defend it till his every last man is gone. He is not thinking rationally...
[suddenly we hear Lincoln's voice]
Abraham Lincoln: Come on out, you old rat!
[the telegraph office goes quite, they all turn to see Lincoln sitting in an operators chair as if sending telegraphs]
Abraham Lincoln: That's what...that's what Ethan Allen called out to the commander of Fort Ticonderoga in 1776. 'Come on out, you old rat!' Ah, 'course there were only fortyodd redcoats at Ticonderoga. But...but there is one Ethan Allen story that I'm very partial to...
Edwin Stanton: No! No, you're, 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! I don't care how long it takes!
[Stanton stalks out]



[after Stanton stalks out, Lincoln carries on with his story]
Abraham Lincoln: It was right after the Revolution, right after peace had been concluded, and um...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.
[Lincoln pours himself another cup of coffee]
Abraham Lincoln: Relieved you might say.
[everyone laughs]
Abraham Lincoln: Now, Mr. Allen discovered on entering the water closet that the only decoration therein 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. And 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. Appropriate? George Washington's likeness in a water closet? Yes, said Mr. Allen, where it'll do good service; the whole world knows nothing'll make an Englishman shit quicker than the sight of George Washington.
[everyone laughs]
Abraham Lincoln: I love that story. suddenly they hear a telegraph key starts clicking. [Lincoln walks over and is joined by Stanton, they hold hands, as they waiting for news of the battle, Bates writes the cable and hands it to Benjamin to read]
Charles Benjamin: Fort Fisher is ours. We've taken the port.
Edwin Stanton: And Wilmington?
Major Thompson Eckert: We've taken the fort, but the city of Wilmington has not surrendered.
Edwin Stanton: How many casualties?
[Bates hands another decoded cable to Stanton, he reads it silently and hands it to Lincoln who looks sad]



[in the House of Debate, a representative reads the paper with the headline 'The fallen at Wilmington' as Wood and Pendleton discuss the issue]
Fernando Wood: Heavy losses.
George Pendleton: And more to come.
Fernando Wood: Sours the national mood. That might suffice to discourage him...
George Pendleton: To what? To bring this down? Not in a fight like this. This is to the death.
Fernando Wood: It's gruesome.
George Pendleton: 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?!
[they look over at Stevens, who's just sat down at his desk]
George Pendleton: 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.
Fernando Wood: George, please. Stay on course.
George Pendleton: 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.

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