Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, Tommy Lee Jones, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Bruce McGill, Tim Blake Nelson, Joseph Cross, Jared Harris, Lee Pace, Peter McRobbie,Gulliver McGrath, Gloria Reuben, Jeremy Strong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Boris McGiver, David Costabile, Stephen Spinella, Walton Goggins, David Warshofsky, Colman Domingo, David Oyelowo , Lukas Haas, Dane DeHaan
OUR RATING: ★★★☆☆
Historical bio-drama directed by Steven Spielberg. Set in 1865 during the American Civil War. With another year of high death count, Lincoln (2012) follows President Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis), as he brings the full measure of his passion, humanity and political skill to what would become his defining legacy, to end the war and permanently abolish slavery through the 13th Amendment. Lincoln pushes forward to compel the nation, and those in government who oppose him, to aim toward a greater good for all mankind.
Our Favorite Quotes:'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 fairness. That's justice.' - Abraham Lincoln Click To Tweet
Corporal Ira Clark: [to Lincoln] Now that white people have accustomed themselves to seeing N**** men with guns, fighting on their behalf, and now that they can tolerate N**** soldiers getting equal pay, maybe in a few years they can abide the idea of N**** lieutenants and captains. In fifty years, maybe a N**** colonel. In a hundred years, the vote.
Abraham Lincoln: What will 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.
Abraham Lincoln: Yes, I do. My last barber hanged himself. And the one before that, left me his scissors in his will.
Second White Soldier: [reciting to Lincoln] “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.”
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 met on a great battlefield of that war.”
Abraham Lincoln: That’s good. Thank you.
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.”
Corporal Ira Clark: [reciting to Lincoln] “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.“
Abraham Lincoln: [January 1865, American Civil War is now in its fourth year] It’s nighttime. The 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.
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 the assault on Wilmington Port. You dream about the ship before a battle, usually.
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.
Mary Todd Lincoln: [to 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? 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 waste that power on an amendment bill that’s sure of defeat.
Mary Todd Lincoln: [to Lincoln, referring to his dream] That’s the ship you’re sailing on. The Thirteenth Amendment. You needn’t tell me I’m right. I know I am.
'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.' - Abraham Lincoln Click To Tweet
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 rat’s nest in there. It’s the same gang of talentless hicks and hacks who rejected the amendment ten months ago. We’ll lose.
Abraham Lincoln: I like our chances now.
William Seward: But we can’t buy the vote for the amendment. It’s too important.
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.
Abraham Lincoln: 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 one day the lawyer shot him, for the sake of peace and quiet, I presume. Thus fulfilling, for the bird at least, his prophecy.
William Seward: [to Lincoln] 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, and spare me the indignity of actually speaking to Democrats. Spare you the exposure and liability.
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.
Preston Blair: 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.
Elizabeth Blair Lee: Damp down the dyspepsia, Daddy. You’ll frighten the child.
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: Woh! Blunt! Your manners, Monty, must be why Mr. Lincoln pushed you out of his cabinet.
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 them that you’re seeking a negotiated peace.
'Trust? Oh. I'm sorry, I was under the misapprehension that your chosen profession was politics.' - Thaddeus Stevens (Lincoln) Click To Tweet
Abraham Lincoln: 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 eighty-three. He was choking her, and she grabbed a hold 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.
Abraham Lincoln: 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.
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.
Abraham Lincoln: 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 N****es 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.
Abraham Lincoln: “The laws of which states remain in force.” That means, that since it’s states laws that determine whether N****es can be sold as slaves, as property, the federal government doesn’t have a say in that. At least not yet. Then N****es in those states are slaves, hence property, hence my war powers allow me to confiscate them as such. So I confiscated 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.
'Time is a great thickener of things.' - Abraham Lincoln Click To Tweet
Abraham Lincoln: 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 Thirteenth 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.”
Abraham Lincoln: I signed the Emancipation Proclamation, what, 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 them 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!
Abraham Lincoln: We’re whalers, Mr. Ashley!
James Ashley: Whalers? As in whales?
Abraham Lincoln: 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.
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!
'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?' - Abraham Lincoln Click To Tweet
Asa Vintner Litton: 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.
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!
Thaddeus Stevens: I don’t. 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 that your chosen profession was politics. I 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.
'I've found that prophesying is one of life's less profitable occupations.' - Abraham Lincoln Click To Tweet
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.
Robert Latham: It’s not illegal to bribe Congressmen. They’d starve otherwise.
W.N. Bilbo: Congressmen come cheap. Few thousand bucks will buy you all you need.
'In times like this, I'm best alone.' - Abraham Lincoln Click To Tweet
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!
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.
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 pulmonary capabilities!
'See what is before you. See the here and now. That's the hardest thing, the only thing that accounts.' - Abraham Lincoln Click To Tweet
Thaddeus Stevens: Slavery is the only insult to natural law, you fatuous nincompoop!
Thaddeus Stevens: What violates natural law? Slavery, and you. Pendleton, you insult God!
You unnatural noise!
'We've made it possible for one another to do terrible things.' - Abraham Lincoln Click To Tweet
Robert Latham: Then despite our abstention, to reach a two-thirds majority, we remain twenty yeses short.
Richard Schell: For which we’re seeking from among sixty-four lame duck Democrats. Fully thirty-nine of these we deem unredeemable no votes.
W.N. Bilbo: The kind that hates n*****s. Hates God for making n*****s.
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 thirty-nine to the devil that possesses them.