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.
[first lines; we see a battle taking place in the rain with 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 N***o soldier they captured at Poison Springs. So at Jenkins’ Ferry, we decided weren’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.
Abraham Lincoln: [to Harold] 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.
Private Harold Green: That was true, yes, sir, but that changed…
Corporal Ira Clark: Equal pay now, but still no commissioned N***o 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 going to be…
Corporal Ira Clark: Now that white people have accustomed themselves to seeing N***o men with guns, fighting on their behalf, and now that they can tolerate N***o soldiers getting equal pay, maybe in a few years they can abide the idea of N***o lieutenants and captains. In fifty years, maybe a N***o colonel. In a hundred years, the vote.
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.
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: [to Lincoln] 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]
Corporal 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]
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]
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 want to talk about parties! You don’t care about parties.
Abraham Lincoln: Not much but they’re a necessary hindrance.
[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]
[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 sl*very. 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.
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.
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 sl*ves 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 anti-sl*very party, not a hobbyhorse for Goddamned radical abolitionists and…
Elizabeth Blair Lee: Damp down the dyspepsia, daddy, you’ll frighten the child.
Montgomery Blair: [to Lincoln] 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 abolitionists!
Montgomery Blair: I agreed to resign.
[nodding towards Tad]
Elizabeth Blair Lee: Oh Daddy, please! Daddy.
Preston Blair: [to Tad] 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?
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 sl*very unless at the same time we can tell ’em that you’re seeking 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!
William 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-sl*very 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 as 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 sl*ves 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’ sl*ves from them as property confiscated in war. That might recommend to suspicion that I agree with the rebs that their sl*ves 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 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. That means, that since it’s states’ laws that determine whether N****es can be sold as sl*ves, as property, the Federal government doesn’t have a say in that, least not yet. Then N****es in those states are sl*ves, 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 sl*very. 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 sl*very? 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 sl*very 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.
[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 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-sl*very 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 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 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 sl*ves 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 sl*very 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 nothing, 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 going to 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]
Fernando 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: Sl*very 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? N******hs casting ballots? N******h representatives? Is that natural, Stevens? Intermarriage?
Thaddeus Stevens: What violates natural law? sl*very, 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 write 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!
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 don’t know how long I’m…
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 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 going to 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 horse trading, 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!
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 n****rs, hates God for making n****rs.
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 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 make me sick.
W.N. Bilbo: So just stand on the dock. Let the 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.
William Seward: Scatter ’em over several rounds of appointments, so no one notices. And burn this ledger, please, after you’re done.
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 dotard, 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 sl*very 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.
Abraham 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 sl*ves!
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.
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 sl*ves 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 British mercantile law, I don’t care about British mercantile law! I might not even want to 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.
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 sl*ves 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 gloves]
Abraham Lincoln: These things should’ve stayed on the calf.
Tad Lincoln: When you were a sl*ve, 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…
William Slade: Mrs. Keckley was a sl*ve. 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.
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 that’s…
Thaddeus Stevens: When the war ends, I intend to push for full equality, the N***o 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 N***o 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 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 sh*t 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 sl*ve 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 sl*very, 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 sl*very. White people cannot bear the thought of sharing this country’s infinite abundance with N****es.
Abraham Lincoln: A compass, I learnt 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?
[later that night, Lincoln helps Mary get undressed in her room]
Abraham Lincoln: Robert’s going to 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 forty odd redcoats at Ticonderoga. 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 side yard 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.
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 sh*t quicker than the sight of George Washington.
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 bl*ck race on high, to n*****ate 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.
[as the House of Debate starts it’s debate and George Yeaman takes his place at the podium to begin]
George Yeaman: Although I’m disgusted by sl*very…
[the representatives on the floor applaud]
George Yeaman: I rise on this sad and solemn day to announce that I’m opposed to the amendment.
[the House applauds in agreement]
George Yeaman: We must consider what will become of colored folk if four million are in one instant set free.
Asa Vintner Litton: They’ll be free, George. That’s what’ll become of them!
[the floor laughs and applauds, Schell, Latham, and Bilbo are seated in their usual gallery seats, watching]
Richard Schell: Think how splendid if Mr. Yeaman switched.
Robert Latham: Too publicly against us. He can’t change course now.
W.N. Bilbo: Not for some miserable little job anyways.
[back to the floor as Yeaman continues]
George Yeaman: And! We will be forced to enfranchise the men of the colored race, it would be inhuman not to! Who among us is prepared to give N****es the vote?
[everyone on the floor starts talking loudly]
George Yeaman: And! What shall follow upon that? Universal enfranchisement? Votes for women?
[everyone on the floor stands in anger to make their disagreement heard]
[Hawkins enters an empty committee room where he sees Wood and Pendleton]
Fernando Wood: Bless my eyes, if it isn’t the Post Master of Millersburg Ohio!
[Hawkins looks at LeClerk, avoids looking at him and shuts the door]
George Pendleton: Mr. LeClerk felt honor-bound to inform us. Of your disgusting betrayal. Your prostitution.
Fernando Wood: Is that true, Postmaster Hawkins? Is your maidenly virtue for sale?
[Hawkins looks at Wood not knowing what to say]
[Bilbo and Hawkins are in the woods again, Bilbo is chasing after Hawkins, who’s walking ahead quickly]
Clay Hawkins: If my neighbors hear that I voted yes for n****r freedom and no to peace, they will kill me.
W.N. Bilbo: A deal’s a deal and you men know better than to piss your pants just cause there’s talk about peace talks.
Clay Hawkins: Look, I’ll find another job.
W.N. Bilbo: My neighbors in Nashville, they found out I was loyal to the Union, they came after me with gelding knives!
[Hawkins walks away quickly from Bilbo]
Clay Hawkins: I’ll find another job.
W.N. Bilbo: You do right, Clay Hawkins! And make yourself some money in the bargain!
Clay Hawkins: I want to do right! But I got no courage!
[Hawkins walks quickly as Bilbo tries to catch up]
W.N. Bilbo: Wait! You wanted, what was it, tax man for the Western Reserve? Hell, you can have the whole state of Ohio if you…
[Bilbo stops as Hawkins ignores him and continues to walk off]
W.N. Bilbo: Aw, crap!
[as Bilbo, Schell and Latham give the news on the number of votes to Seward]
William Seward: Eleven votes?! Two days ago we had twelve! What happened?
Robert Latham: There are defections in the ranks.
Richard Schell: It’s the Goddamned rumors regarding the Richmond delegation.
Robert Latham: Yes! The peace offer!
William Seward: Groundless. I told you that.
Robert Latham: And yet the rumors persist.
Richard Schell: They are ruining us. Among the few remaining representatives who seem remotely plausible there is a perceptible increase in resistance.
[Seward walks ahead towards his carriage, as he’s about to climb in, Bilbo slams shut the
W.N. Bilbo: Resistance, hell! Thingamabob Hollister, Dem from Indiana? I approached him, the son of a bitch near to murdered me!
[we see Bilbo as he’s talking to Hollister, when he suddenly pulls out his gun, Bilbo makes a run for it but drops his folder in the process, so he runs back to get his folder and as he bends to pick up his folder he kicks dirt and swears at Hollister as he shoots his gun over Bilbo’s head]
[Seward, now inside his carriage, slams the door shut]
William Seward: Perhaps you push too hard.
W.N. Bilbo: I push nobody. Perhaps we need reinforcements. If Jeff Davis wants to cease hostilities, who do you think’ll give a genuine solid sh*t to free sl*ves?
William Seward: Get back to it. And Gentlemen, good day.
Richard Schell: We are at an impasse.
Robert Latham: Tell Lincoln to deny the rumors, publicly.
Richard Schell: Tell us what you expect of us.
William Seward: I expect you to do your work! And to have sufficient sense and taste not to presume to instruct the President. Or me.
[Schell steps up on the running board of the carriage]
Richard Schell: Is there a Confederate offer or not?
[at James River Rock as Grant looks at the peace proposal]
Ulysses S. Grant: Gentlemen, I suggest you work some changes to your proposal before you give it to the President.
[Grant hands the proposal back to Stephens]
Senator R.M.T. Hunter: We’re eager to be on our way to Washington.
Alexander Stephens: Mr. Lincoln tell you to tell us this?
Ulysses S. Grant: It says; ‘securing peace for our two countries.’ And it goes on like that.
Alexander Stephens: I don’t know what you…
Ulysses S. Grant: There’s just one country. You and I, we’re citizens of that country. I’m fighting to protect it from armed rebels. From you.
Alexander Stephens: But Mr. Blair, he told us, he told President Jefferson Davis that we were…
Ulysses S. Grant: 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.
Alexander Stephens: If we’re not to discuss a truce between warring nations, what in heaven’s name can we discuss?
Ulysses S. Grant: Terms of surrender.
[as disembarks with his men from the River Queen]
Ulysses S. Grant: [voice over] Office United States Military Telegraph, War Dept. 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…
[we see Seward reading Grant’s letter sitting at his desk in his office]
William Seward: ..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.’
Abraham Lincoln: After four years of war and near six hundred thousand lives lost, he believes we can end this war now? My trust in him is marrow deep.
[Seward stands and walks over to Lincoln]
William Seward: 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.
[Lincoln has closed his eyes]
William Seward: Or. If you could manage, without seeming to do it, to…
[Lincoln shakes his head]
William Seward: The peace delegation might encounter delays as they travel up the James River. Particularly with the fighting around Wilmington.
[there’s a moment’s pause as Seward looks at Lincoln]
William Seward: Within ten days time, we might pass the Thirteenth Amendment.
[he holds up Grant’s letter and then places on a table nearby]
[later that night, Lincoln walks around the White House, then sits in his office contemplating Grant’s letter, later he goes to Nicolay and Hay’s bedroom and sits at the foot of Hay’s bed as they are both asleep, reading a petition]
Abraham Lincoln: Now, here’s a sixteen year old boy. They’re going to hang him…
[Hay startles awake, looking at Lincoln as he carries on reading from the petition]
Abraham Lincoln: He was with the 15th Indiana Calvary near Beaufort, 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?
[Nicolay awakes in the next bed and looks at them]
John Hay: I don’t know, sir. I don’t know who you’re, uh, What time is it?
Abraham Lincoln: It’s three forty in the morning.
John Nicolay: Don’t let him pardon any more deserters.
[Nicolay sinks back down to his bed]
John Hay: Mr. Stanton thinks you pardon too many. He’s generally apoplectic on the subject…
Abraham Lincoln: He oughtn’t to have done that, crippled his horse, that was cruel, but you don’t just hang a sixteen year old boy for that…
John Hay: Ask the horse what he thinks.
Abraham Lincoln: …for cruelty. There’d be no sixteen year old boys left.
[Lincoln pauses as he thinks for a moment]
Abraham Lincoln: Grant wants me to bring the secesh delegates to Washington.
John Hay: So there are secesh delegates?
Abraham Lincoln: 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?
[Lincoln signs the petition to pardon the boy, then he gives Hay’s leg a few hard hits and a squeeze, Hay chuckles]
Abraham Lincoln: War’s nearly done. Ain’t that so? What use one more corpse? Any more corpses?
[he puts the rest of the petitions on Hay’s bed and stands to leave]
John Hay: Do you need company?
Abraham Lincoln: In times like this, I’m best alone.
[Lincoln carries on walking around the White House hallway alone]
[in the War Department Telegraph Office, Lincoln sits and stares down into his hat, held between his knees, Bates and Beckwith are sat opposite looking at him, Lincoln takes a piece of paper from his hat and unfolds it, he reads as Beckwith starts noting Lincoln’s words]
Abraham Lincoln: ‘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.’
[he pauses for a moment, then folds the paper and places it back inside his hat and places it on the floor]
Abraham Lincoln: ‘Have Captain Saunders convey the commissioners to me here in Washington. A. Lincoln.’ And the date.
Samuel Beckwith: Yes, sir.
[as Beckwith finishes writing the note, he turns and looks at Lincoln]
Samuel Beckwith: Shall I transmit, sir?
[there’s a moment’s pause]
Abraham Lincoln: You think we choose to be born?
Samuel Beckwith: I don’t suppose so.
Abraham Lincoln: Are we fitted to the times we’re born into?
Samuel Beckwith: Well, I don’t know about myself. You may be, sir. Fitted.
Abraham Lincoln: What do you reckon?
David Homer Bates: Well, I’m an engineer. I reckon there’s machinery but no one’s done the fitting.
Abraham Lincoln: You’re an engineer, you must know Euclid’s axioms and common notions.
David Homer Bates: I must have in school, but, uh,
Abraham Lincoln: I never had much of schooling, but I read Euclid, in an old book I borrowed. Little enough ever found its way in here…
[pointing to his head]
Abraham Lincoln: …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, hmm, Euclid says this is ‘self-evident.’ Do you see? There it is, even in that two- thousand 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 fairness, that’s justice.
[Bates and Beckwith watch Lincoln]
Abraham Lincoln: Just read me back the last sentence of the telegram, please.
Samuel Beckwith: ‘Have Captain Saunders convey the commissioners to me here in
Abraham Lincoln: 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.’
[as Beckwith starts sending the cable, Lincoln stands, puts on his hat, as he starts walking off, he gently pats Beckwith and Bates’ shoulders and walks off]
[to Stevens as he takes his seat in the House of Representatives]
James Ashley: Say you believe only in legal equality for all races, not racial equality, I beg you, sir. Compromise. Or you risk it all.
[Stevens looks up and sees Mary, with Mrs. Keckley taking their seats in front row of the balcony; later Wood challenges Stevens, who’s standing at the podium]
Fernando Wood: 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?
[there’s a moment’s pause]
Fernando Wood: Is that not the true purpose of the amendment? To promote your ultimate and ardent dream to elevate…
Thaddeus Stevens: The true purpose of the amendment, Mr. Wood, you perfectly-named, brainless, obstructive object?
[the members on the floor laugh]
Fernando Wood: Well you have always insisted, Mr. Stevens, that N****es are the same as white men are.
Thaddeus Stevens: The true purpose of the amendment..
[he pauses and looks up at the balcony where all the journalists are sat]
Thaddeus Stevens: I don’t hold with equality in all things only with equality before the law and nothing more.
[shocked at Stevens answer]
Fernando Wood: That’s not so! You believe that N****es are entirely equal to white men. You’ve said it a thousand times!
George Pendleton: For shame! For shame! Stop prevaricating and answer Representative Wood!
Thaddeus Stevens: I don’t hold with equality in all things, only with equality before the law and nothing more.
[Pendleton stands and looks at the crowd]
George Pendleton: After the decades of fervent advocacy on behalf of the colored race…
[leaping up from his seat]
James Ashley: He’s answered your questions! This amendment has naught to do with race equality!
[Pendleton persists as the crowd cheers and catcalls]
George Pendleton: You have long insisted, have you not, that the dusk colored race is no different from the white one.
Thaddeus Stevens: I don’t hold with equality in all things, only with equality before the law and nothing more.
[Mary and Mrs. Keckley watch the floor argue after Stevens revelation]
Mary Todd Lincoln: Who’d ever have guessed that old nightmare capable of such control? He might make a politician someday…
[Mrs. Keckley looks at Mary]
Elizabeth Keckley: I need to go.
Mary Todd Lincoln: Mrs. Keckley!
[Mrs. Keckley stands abruptly and leaves the balcony]
[back on the floor the arguments continue]
George Pendleton: Your frantic attempt to delude us now is unworthy of a representative. It is, in fact, unworthy of a white man!
Thaddeus Stevens: 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!
George Pendleton: How dare you!
Thaddeus Stevens: Yet even you, Pendleton, who should have been gibbetted for treason long before today, even worthless unworthy you ought to be treated equally before the law! And so again, sir, and again and again and again I say: I do not hold with equality in all things, only with equality before the law!
[the crowd applauses]
George Pendleton: Mr. Speaker, will you permit this vile boorish man to slander and to threaten me and…
[as the crowd continues to clap and argue, Stevens starts walking through the aisle, as he leaves he looks up at the balcony to see Mary looking down at him approvingly]
[Stevens sits on a bench in the hallway outside the House of Chambers when Litton approaches him]
Asa Vintner Litton: You asked if ever I was surprised. Today, Mr. Stevens, I was surprised. You’ve led the battle for race equality for thirty years!
[he moves over to Stevens side]
Asa Vintner Litton: The basis of, of every hope for this country’s future life, you denied N***o 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?
Thaddeus Stevens: 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 sl*very is its absolute prohibition. For this amendment, for which I have worked all of 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 is very nearly nothing I won’t say.
[Lincoln takes Robert out on a carriage ride and brings him to a military hospital where soldiers who had limbs amputated are being treated]
Robert Lincoln: I’m not going in.
Abraham Lincoln: You said you wanted to help me.
Robert Lincoln: This is just a clumsy attempt at discouragement. I’ve been to army hospitals, I’ve seen surgeries, I went and visited the malaria barges with mama.
Abraham Lincoln: She told me she didn’t take you inside.
Robert Lincoln: I snuck in afterwards, I’ve seen what it’s like. This changes nothing.
Abraham Lincoln: At all rates, I’m happy to have your company.
[Lincoln steps out of the carriage and enters the army hospital]
Abraham Lincoln: Morning, Jim.
Military Hospital Doctor: Hello, Mr. President.
[they shake hands]
Abraham Lincoln: Good to see you again.
[Lincoln goes into the main ward, removing his hat]
Abraham Lincoln: Well, boys, first question. You getting enough to eat?
[Lincoln goes from bed to bed, shaking hands with each patient]
Patient #1: Hello, sir.
Abraham Lincoln: What’s your name, soldier?
Patient #1: Robert.
Abraham Lincoln: Robert. Good to meet you, Robert.
Patient #2: Nice to meet you.
Abraham Lincoln: What’s your name?
Patient #2: Kevin.
Abraham Lincoln: Tell me your names as I go past. I like to know who I’m talking to.
Patient #3: Mr. President. John.
Abraham Lincoln: John. I’ve seen you before.
Patient #4: Mr. President…
Abraham Lincoln: Make sure you get some steak…
[as Robert waits in the carriage outside the hospital, he sees two orderlies pushing a wheelbarrow and leaving a trail of blood, he follows them until they reach a mass grave of discarded severed limbs, Robert watches as they toss the remains of the wheelbarrow into the pit, upset he walks away, Lincoln finds him later crying]
Abraham Lincoln: What’s the matter, Bob?
Robert Lincoln: I have to do this. And I will do it and I don’t need your permission to enlist.
Abraham Lincoln: 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 going to 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.’
Robert Lincoln: It’s mama you’re scared of, it’s not me getting killed.
[suddenly Lincoln slaps Robert in the face, Lincoln tries to embrace him, but Robert pushes his hands away and walks past him in anger then turns]
Robert Lincoln: 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 going to 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!
[as he walks away, Lincoln whispers to himself]
Abraham Lincoln: I can’t lose you.
[later that evening, Lincoln sits in Mary’s room discussing Robert’s decision to enlist]
Abraham Lincoln: He’ll be fine, Molly. City Point’s away back from the front lines, and fighting, he’ll be an adjutant running messages for General Grant.
Mary Todd Lincoln: The war will take our son! A sniper, or a shrapnel shell. Or 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!
Abraham Lincoln: That’s simply not true.
Mary Todd Lincoln: And if the slaughter of Cold Harbor is 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.
Abraham Lincoln: 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, can you imagine he’ll forgive us if we continue to stifle this very natural ambition?!
Mary Todd Lincoln: And if I refuse to take the high road, if I won’t take 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 it, to help me…
[Lincoln starts getting angry]
Abraham Lincoln: That’s right. That’s right. When you refused so much as to comfort Tad…
Mary Todd Lincoln: I was in the room with Willie, I was holding him in my arms as he died!
Abraham Lincoln: …a child who was not only sick, dangerously sick, but beside himself with grief! Oh, but your grief! Your grief! Your inexhaustible grief!
Mary Todd Lincoln: How dare you throw that up at me?!
Abraham Lincoln: And his mother wouldn’t let him near her…
Mary Todd Lincoln: I couldn’t let Tad in! I couldn’t risk him seeing how angry I was!
[Mary starts crying]
Abraham Lincoln: …’cause she’s screaming from morning to night pacing the corridors, howling at shadows and furniture and ghosts! I ought to have done it, I ought have done for Tad’s sake, for everybody’s Goddamned sake, I should have clapped you in the madhouse!
Mary Todd Lincoln: 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.
[there’s a moment’s silence as Lincoln tries to composes himself, he then turns to Mary with tears in his eyes]
Abraham Lincoln: 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. I still do. Every day I do. Don’t speak to me about grief.
[he pauses again]
Abraham Lincoln: 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.
[Mary watches open mouthed as Lincoln walks out of the room]
[Lincoln and Mary are sat in their box at the opera when Mary turns to Lincoln and whispers]
Mary Todd Lincoln: 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 sl*very will end this war. And since you are sending my son into the war, woe unto you if you fail to pass the amendment.
Abraham Lincoln: Seward doesn’t want me leaving big muddy footprints all over town.
Mary Todd Lincoln: No one 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.
[later as they come back to The White House, Lincoln help Mrs. Keckley out of the carriage, as they are walking into The White House Mrs. Keckley turns to Lincoln]
Elizabeth Keckley: 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.
Abraham Lincoln: 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.
Elizabeth Keckley: Then you’ll see to it.
Abraham Lincoln: Are you afraid of what lies ahead? For your people? If we succeed?
Elizabeth Keckley: White people don’t want us here.
Abraham Lincoln: Many don’t.
Elizabeth Keckley: What about you?
Abraham Lincoln: Mm, 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. But what you are to the nation, what’ll become of you once sl*very’s day is done, I don’t know.
Elizabeth Keckley: What my people are to be, I can’t say. I never heard any ask what freedom will bring. Freedom’s 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?
[Mrs. Keckley turns and walks away as Lincoln stands and watches her]
[in their hotel room, Bilbo and Latham are playing cards as Schell sleeps]
W.N. Bilbo: My whole hand’s going to be proud in about five seconds, let’s see, let’s see how proud you going to be.
Robert Latham: Oh, it is? What you got going?
[there’s a knock on the door]
W.N. Bilbo: Yeah?
Robert Latham: Go away!
Robert Latham: That watch fob, is that gold?
W.N. Bilbo: You keep your eyes off my fob!
[as they show their cards, Seward enters the room]
Robert Latham: Nine of Spades!
W.N. Bilbo: Oh my God damn!
William Seward: Gentlemen. You have a visitor.
[Lincoln steps into the room]
W.N. Bilbo: Well, I’ll be f*cked!
[Schell is startled awake and gets up]
Abraham Lincoln: I wouldn’t bet against it, Mr… uh..?
W.N. Bilbo: W.N. Bilbo.
[they shake hands]
Abraham Lincoln: Yeah, Mr. Bilbo. Gentlemen.
Robert Latham: Sir.
W.N. Bilbo: 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 got your face on ’em.
Abraham Lincoln: The Secretary of State here tells me that, uh, you got eleven Democrats in the bag. That’s encouraging.
Robert Latham: Oh, you’ve got no cause to be encouraged. Sir, uh…
Richard Schell: Are we being fired?
Robert Latham: ‘We have heard the chimes of midnight, Master Shallow.’ I’m here to alert you boys that the great day of reckoning is nigh upon us.
[Lincoln sits at the card table]
Richard Schell: The Democrats we’ve yet to bag, sir. The patronage jobs simply won’t bag ’em. They require more convincing, Mr. President.
Abraham Lincoln: Mm-hmm. Do me a favor, will you?
W.N. Bilbo: Sure.
Abraham Lincoln: Snagged my eye in the paper this morning, and the Governor Curtin is set to declare a winner in the disputed Congressional election for the…
W.N. Bilbo: Pennsylvania 16th District.
Abraham Lincoln: District… What a joy to be comprehended. Hop on a train to Philadell, call on the Governor…
William Seward: Send Latham. Or Schell.
Abraham Lincoln: No, he’ll do fine, just polish yourself up first.
Robert Latham: The incumbent is claiming he won it. Name of, uh,
W.N. Bilbo: Coffroth.
Abraham Lincoln: That’s him.
Richard Schell: Coffroth. He is a Democrat.
Abraham Lincoln: I understand that.
W.N. Bilbo: Silly name.
Abraham Lincoln: 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, that he’d better pay a visit to Thaddeus Stevens.
William Seward: Pity poor Coffroth.
[Seward and Lincoln laugh]
[Stevens sits in his office when there’s a knock at the door]
Thaddeus Stevens: It opens!
[Coffroth enters the room]
Thaddeus Stevens: You are Canfrey?
Alexander Coffroth: Coffroth, Mr. Stevens, Alexander Coffroth, I’m, I’m…
Thaddeus Stevens: Are we representatives of the same state?
Alexander Coffroth: Y-yes sir! We sit only three desks apart…
[Stevens points for him to sit into the chair opposite his desk]
Thaddeus Stevens: I haven’t noticed you. I’m a Republican, and you, Coughdrop, are a Democrat?
Alexander Coffroth: Well, I, um, that is to say, I…
Thaddeus Stevens: The modern travesty of Thomas Jefferson’s political organization to which you have attached yourself like a barnacle has the effrontery to call itself The Democratic Party. You are a Dem-o-crat. What’s the matter with you? Are you wicked?
Alexander Coffroth: Well, I felt, um, formerly, I…
Thaddeus Stevens: Never mind, Coffsnot. You were ignominiously trounced at the hustings in November’s election by your worthy challenger, a Republican…
Alexander Coffroth: No, sir, I was not trounced! Uh, he wants to steal my seat! I didn’t lose the election…
Thaddeus Stevens: What difference does it make if you lost or not?! The governor of our state, is…? A Democrat?
Alexander Coffroth: No, he’s a, uh, Re-re-re…
Thaddeus Stevens: Re.
Alexander Coffroth: Re.
Thaddeus Stevens: Pub.
Alexander Coffroth: Pub.
Thaddeus Stevens: Li.
Alexander Coffroth: Li.
Thaddeus Stevens: Can.
Alexander Coffroth: Can. Republican.
Thaddeus Stevens: I know what he is. This is a rhetorical exercise. And Congress is controlled by what party? Yours?
[Coffroth shakes his head]
Thaddeus Stevens: 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.
Alexander Coffroth: I know what I must do, sir! I will immediately become a Republican and vote yes for…
Thaddeus Stevens: No! Coffroth will vote yes, but Coffroth will remain a Democrat until after he does so.
Alexander Coffroth: Why wait to switch? I’m happy to switch…
[Stevens hits his palm on his desk hard, scaring the wits out of Coffroth]
Thaddeus Stevens: 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.
[back to the hotel room with Lincoln continuing his discussion with Bilbo, Latham and Schell]
Abraham Lincoln: Now give me the names of whoever else you been hunting.
Robert Latham: Oh, hell. Uh, George Yeaman.
Richard Schell: Yes. Yeaman.
W.N. Bilbo: Among others. But Yeaman, that’d count.
[Lincoln write the name in his notepad]
Robert Latham: Y-E-A-M-A-N
Abraham Lincoln: I got it.
Robert Latham: Kentucky.
[Yeaman sits in Seward’s office, looking anxious as he looks at Seward and Lincoln]
George Yeaman: I can’t vote for the amendment, Mr. Lincoln.
[Lincoln pauses for a moment before replying]
Abraham Lincoln: I saw a barge once, Mr. Yeaman, filled with colored men in chains, heading down the Mississippi to the New Orleans sl*ve markets. It sickened me, and more than that, it brought a shadow down, a pall around my eyes. Sl*very 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 sl*ve plantations. 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.
[Yeaman nods his head]
George Yeaman: I… Well, I’m sorry to hear that…
Abraham Lincoln: Loving-kindness, that most ordinary thing, came to me from other sources. I’m grateful for that.
George Yeaman: I hate it, too, sir, sl*very, but we’re entirely unready for emancipation. There’s too many questions…
Abraham Lincoln: 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’ve faced during the war, bloody as it’s been. We’ll have to extemporize and experiment with what it is when it is.
[Lincoln moves from the desk to take a seat beside Yeaman and leans close]
Abraham Lincoln: I read your speech, George. N****es and the vote, that’s a puzzle.
George Yeaman: No, no. But, but, but N****es can’t, um, vote, Mr. Lincoln. You’re not suggesting that we enfranchise colored people.
Abraham Lincoln: I’m asking only that you disenthrall yourself from the sl*ve 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 Thirteenth Amendment. It’s going to be so very close. You see what you can do.
[Yeaman watches as Lincoln leaves]
[Lincoln visits a working class neighborhood]
William Hutton: I can’t make sense of it, what he died for. Mr. Lincoln, I hate them all, I do, all bl*ck people.
[the door to his house opens slightly behind Hutton, his wife looks out and then shuts the door again]
William Hutton: I am a prejudiced man.
Abraham Lincoln: 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 will 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.
[Hutton turns and walks back to his house]
Abraham Lincoln: My deepest sympathies to your family.
[Lincoln goes to his buggy and Hutton turns to watch Lincoln’s buggy drive away]
[in Lincoln’s office with Lincoln seated at the head of the cabinet table]
Preston Blair: We’ve managed our members to a farethee-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?!
James Ashley: Oh, my God. It’s true! You, you lied to me, Mr. Lincoln! You evaded my requests for a denial that, that there is a Confederate peace offer because there is one! We are absolutely guaranteed to lose the whole thing! And we’ll be discredited, the amendment itself will be tainted. What if…what if these peace commissioners appear today? Or, or, or worse, on the morning?!
Montgomery Blair: We don’t need a Goddamned abolition amendment! Leave the Constitution alone! State by state you can extirpate…
[suddenly Lincoln smacks the table hard with his hand]
Abraham Lincoln: I can’t listen to this anymore. I can’t accomplish a Goddamned thing of any human meaning or worth until we cure ourselves of sl*very and end this pestilential war, and whether any of you or anyone else knows it, I know I need this!
[he smacks the table again]
Abraham Lincoln: This amendment is that cure! We’re stepped out upon the world’s stage now, now, with the fate of human dignity in our hands! Blood’s been spilt to afford us this moment!
[he points around the table at Ashley, Montgomery and Blair]
Abraham Lincoln: 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 sl*very 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.
William Seward: We need two yeses, three abstentions, or four yeses and one more abstention and the amendment will pass…
Abraham Lincoln: 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!
James Ashley: Yes, but how?
Abraham Lincoln: Buzzards’ guts, man.
Abraham Lincoln: I am the President of the United States of America, clothed in immense power! You will procure me these votes.
[on the morning of the vote, Stevens goes to the House of Chambers and sits at his desk looking around the empty chambers, later on everyone is taking their seats, on the balcony Mary sits with Mrs. Keckley, suddenly the chamber goes quite as several bl*ck people enter the balcony and take their seats, Litton calls up the people on the balcony]
Asa Vintner Litton: We welcome you, ladies and gentlemen, first in the history of this people’s chamber, to your House!
[there’s applause from the chamber]
[after everyone is seated at the House of Chambers, Ashely is called to the podium]
James Ashley: On the matter of the joint resolution before us, presenting a Thirteenth 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…
[there’s applause from members followed on with some boos]
James Ashley: By mutual agreement we shall hear brief final statements…
[on hearing this the members in the chamber laugh]
James Ashley: …beginning with the honorable George Pendleton of Ohio.
[there’s applause as Pendleton goes to the podium and is handed a piece of paper by Wood]
George Pendleton: I’ve just received confirmation 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!
[Pendleton goes over to Ashley’s desk and leans in staring at him whilst everyone in the chamber is shocked causing a ruckus]
Fernando Wood: Are there Confederate commissioners in the Capitol?
James Ashley: I don’t, I have no idea where they are or if they’ve arrived or…
Fernando Wood: If they’ve arrived?!
George Pendleton: 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!
Fernando Wood: Postpone the vote!
[Ashley turns to look at Stevens as the chamber starts chanting ‘Postpone the vote’]
[as everyone in the chamber is continuing to chant ‘Postpone the vote’, Wood approaches the podium]
Fernando Wood: I have made a motion! Does anyone here care to second…
[sat in the balcony Blair watches all this with sadness and rises, he nods to Haddam sat at his desk in the chamber, Haddam nods back, rises and gathers the attention of the chamber]
Aaron Haddam: Gentlemen. 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.
[as the chamber explodes again, Latham whispers to Schell as he is quickly scribbling something down in his notebook]
Robert Latham: Quick, man! Quick!
[Latham rips the page out before Schell’s finishes, Bilbo takes the note and quickly makes his way out of the balcony]
[in Lincoln’s office after Bilbo delivers Schell’s note]
Abraham Lincoln: This is precisely what Mr. Wood wishes me to respond to?
[Tad runs into the room and wraps his arms around Lincoln’s neck from behind]
Abraham Lincoln: Word for word? This is precisely the assurance that he demands of me?
[Tad runs out of the room]
W.N. Bilbo: Yes, sir.
[Nicolay enters the room looking out of breath making Bilbo laugh, Lincoln then starts writing a note and hands the note to Hay]
Abraham Lincoln: Give this to Mr. Ashley.
[Hay looks at the note]
John Hay:, um, uh, I feel, uh, I have to say, Mr. Lincoln, that this…
[Hay looks at Bilbo]
John Hay: Could you please just step outside?!
W.N. Bilbo: You going to have a chat now, with the whole of the House of Representatives waiting on that?
John Hay: Making false representation to Congress is, it’s, it’s…
Abraham Lincoln: It’s impeachable. I’ve made no such false representation.
John Hay: But there are! There is a delegation from Richmond.
Abraham Lincoln: Give me the note, Johnnie.
[Hay gives Lincoln the note, Lincoln takes it and holds on to Hay’s hand and passes the note to Bilbo]
Abraham Lincoln: Please deliver that to Mr. Ashley.
[Bilbo takes the note and leaves]
[Bilbo runs back to the House of Chambers and hands Lincoln’s note to Ashley, who then opens the note and reads out loud]
James Ashley: From the President: ‘So far as I know, there are no peace commissioners in the city nor are there likely to be.’
George Pendleton: ‘So far as I know?!’ That means nothing. Are there commissioners from the South or aren’t there?
[in the balcony, Mary looks to Mrs. Keckley]
James Ashley: The President has answered you, sir. Your peace offer is a fiction!
George Pendleton: That is not a denial, it is a lawyer’s dodge!
James Ashley: Mr. Haddam? Is your faction satisfied?
[from the balcony, Blair indicates with his hand to Haddam to confirm]
Aaron Haddam: The conservative Republican faction’s satisfied, and we thank Mr. Lincoln. I move to table Mr. Wood’s motion.
Schuyler Colfax: Tabled!
[there’s an applause from the chamber]
James Ashley: Speaker Colfax, I order the main question.
Schuyler Colfax: A motion has been made to bring the bill for the Thirteenth Amendment to a vote. Do I hear a second?
Asa Vintner Litton: I second the motion.
Schuyler Colfax: So moved, so ordered. The Clerk will now…
[as a discussion begins in the crowd]
Schuyler Colfax: Quiet please. The clerk will now call the roll for voting.
[we see Stevens sitting silently, looking down in concentration]
Clerk: We begin with Connecticut. Mr. Augustus Benjamin, on the matter of this amendment, how say you?
Augustus Benjamin: Nay!
Clerk: Mr. Arthur Bentleigh.
Arthur Bentleigh: Nay!
Clerk: Mr. John Ellis, how say you?
John Ellis: Aye!
[there are angry shouts from Ellis’s fellow Democrats, forcing Colfax to gavel for order]
Clerk: Missouri next. Mr. Walter Appleton.
Walter Appleton: I vote no!
Clerk: Mr. Josiah Burton.
[Burton rises to his feet]
Josiah Burton: Beanpole Burton is pleased to vote yay!
Clerk: The State of New Jersey. Mr. Nehemiah Cleary.
Nehemiah Cleary: No.
Clerk: Mr. James Martinson.
James Ashley: Mr. Martinson has delegated me to say he is indisposed and he abstains.
Clerk: Mr. Austin J. Roberts.
James Ashley: Also indisposed, also abstaining.
[Pendleton starts calculating the votes on a sheet of paper, but Wood grabs it and takes over the calculation, in the balcony, Mary keeps track on her own list]
Clerk: Illinois concluded. Mr. Harold Hollister, how say you?
Harold Hollister: No.
Clerk: Mr. Hutton? Mr. William Hutton, cast your vote.
[Hutton, who has his hands clasped and eyes closed in prayer, opens his eyes]
William Hutton: William Hutton, remembering at this moment his beloved brother, Fredrick, votes against the amendment.
[in Grant’s telegraph office officers are crowded as a sergeant transcribes the messages]
Sergeant – Grant’s HQ: Webster Allen, Illinois, Democrat, votes, no. Halberd Law, Indiana, Democrat, votes, no.
[Grant observes this from the balcony above with Robert, now in a captain’s uniform, standing near him]
Sergeant – Grant’s HQ: Archibald Moran, yes. Ambrose Bailer, yes.
[back in The House of Chambers the clerk continues taking the votes]
Clerk: Mr. Walter H. Washburn.
Walter H. Washburn: Votes no.
Clerk: And Mr. George Yeaman, how say you?
[Yeaman doesn’t respond, everyone looks at him with bated breath, Yeaman the mumbles something, but no one can hear him]
Clerk: Sorry, Mr. Yeaman. I didn’t hear you vote.
[Yeaman rises to his feet]
George Yeaman: I said aye, Mr. McPherson. Aayye!!
[there’s loud cheers and angry shouts from the chamber]
Fernando Wood: Traitor! Traitor!
[Colfax bangs his gavel to bring the crowd to order]
Schuyler Colfax: Order!
[Pendleton is speechless, Litton turns to Ashley; Ashley turns to Stevens, who watches in silence and in the balcony Mary updates her calculation and writes ‘8 to win’]
[after Yeaman votes yes]
Schuyler Colfax: Order in the chamber!
[Yeaman sits back in his seat and the room becomes silent]
Schuyler Colfax: Mr. MacPherson, you may proceed.
Clerk: Mr. Clay R. Hawkins of Ohio.
[Hawkins doesn’t reply and thinks for a moment]
Clay Hawkins: Goddamn it, I’m voting yes.
[there’s another huge reaction from the crowd with Pendleton and Wood rising from their seats in anger’
Clay Hawkins: I don’t care, shoot me dead! You shoot me dead! I am voting yes!
[the crowd becomes silent again]
Clerk: Mr. Edwin F. LeClerk.
Edwin LeClerk: No!
[LeClerk suddenly stands and shouts]
Edwin LeClerk: Oh, to hell with it! Shoot me dead too! Yes!
[the crowd erupts again and as the clerk is about to note his vote, LeClerk shouts]
Edwin LeClerk: I mean, abstention! Abstention!
[in the balcony, Bilbo looks pleased and leaves]
Clerk: Mr. Alexander Coffroth.
[Coffroth looks towards Stevens, who doesn’t look at him]
Alexander Coffroth: I vote yes.
[there’s applause, Stevens nods his head and grins to himself]
[in Grant’s telegraph office the sergeant carries on transcribing the votes]
Sergeant – Grant’s HQ: James Brooks, nay.
[on a nearby board, the count are being recorded by an officer]
Sergeant – Grant’s HQ: Josiah Grinnell, yay. Meyer Straus…
[we see on the board they’ve written ‘6 to win’]
[back in The House of Chambers the clerk continues taking the votes]
Meyer Strauss: Nay.
Clerk: Mr. Joseph Marstern?
Joseph Marstern: Nay.
Clerk: Mr. Chilton A. Elliot?
Chilton A. Elliot: No!
Clerk: Mr. Daniel G. Stuart?
Daniel G. Stuart: I vote yes.
Clerk: Mr. Howard Guilefoyle.
Howard Guilefoyle: Yay.
Clerk: John F. McKenzie.
John F. McKenzie: Yay.
Clerk: Andrew E. Fink.
Andrew E. Fink: Nay.
Clerk: Mr. John A. Kassim.
John A. Kassim: Yay.
Clerk: Mr. Hanready.
Avon Hanready: Nay.
Clerk: And Mr. Rufus Warren?
Rufus Warren: Yay.
[as Lincoln sits with Tad in his office, back in The House of Chamber the room is silent as the votes are being counted]
Clerk: The roll call concludes, voting is completed, now…
Schuyler Colfax: Mr. Clerk, please call my name, I want to cast a vote.
[Pendleton rises to his feet]
George Pendleton: I object! The Speaker doesn’t vote.
Schuyler Colfax: The Speaker may vote if he so chooses.
George Pendleton: It is highly unusual, sir…
Schuyler Colfax: This isn’t usual, Mr. Pendleton. This is history.
Clerk: How does Mr. Schuyler Colfax vote?
[the clerk turns to look at Colfax]
Schuyler Colfax: Aye, of course!
[there’s laughter from the chamber, the clerk tallies the vote and passes the paper to Colfax, in the balcony, Mary checks her own calculation and looks shocked at the total]
Schuyler Colfax: The final vote: eight absent or not voting, fifty six votes against, one hundred nineteen votes for. With a margin of two votes…
[Lincoln stands in his office, waiting, the only sound is the ticking of the clock suddenly hears bells ringing outside, he opens the window and he hears canons being shot, Tad joins him as he realizes the amendment has passed]
[back in The House of Chambers everyone is celebrating and cheering, Stevens walks over to the clerk]
Clerk: Congratulations, Mr. Chairman.
Thaddeus Stevens: The bill, Mr. McPherson, may I…?
[the clerk hands the bill to Stevens, he looks at it and folds it]
Clerk: That’s the official bill.
Thaddeus Stevens: I’ll return it in the morning. Creased, but unharmed.
[Stevens turns and walks out as the crowd continue to celebrate]
[as the city is celebrating the passing of the amendment, Stevens returns to his home and is met by his housekeeper, who helps him take his coat and hat off, he then hands her the piece of paper he took from the clerk]
Thaddeus Stevens: A gift for you.
[she takes it and looks at it]
Thaddeus Stevens: The greatest measure of the Nineteenth Century. Passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America.
[later in his bedroom, Stevens takes off his wig revealing his bald head, he lies down in his bed with Mrs. Smith lying next to him, she’s still holding onto the paper]
Thaddeus Stevens: I wish you had been present.
Lydia Smith: I wish I’d been.
Thaddeus Stevens: It was a spectacle.
Lydia Smith: 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.
[he turns to her and they kiss]
Thaddeus Stevens: Read it to me again, my love.
[he lies back]
Lydia Smith: ‘Proposed…
Thaddeus Stevens: And adopted.
Lydia Smith: Adopted. ‘An Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Section One: Neither sl*very 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.’
Thaddeus Stevens: Section Two:
Lydia Smith: ‘Congress shall have power to enforce this amendment by appropriate legislation.’
[on board the River Queen Lincoln and Seward meet with delegation from the Confederacy]
Alexander Stephens: Let me be blunt. Will the, uh, southern states resume their former position in the Union speedily enough to enable us to block ratification of this, you know, Thirteenth Amendment?
Abraham Lincoln: I’d like peace immediately.
Alexander Stephens: Yes, and?
Abraham Lincoln: I’d like your states restored to their practical relations with the Union immediately.
Alexander Stephens: If this could be given me in writing, as Vice President of the Confederacy, I’d bring that document with celerity to Jefferson Davis.
William Seward: Surrender and we can discuss reconstruction.
Alexander Stephens: Surrender won’t be thought of unless you’ve assured us, in writing, that we’ll be readmitted in time to block this amendment.
Senator R.M.T. Hunter: This is the arrogant demand of a conqueror.
William Seward: 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.
Alexander Stephens: Which now extinguishes sl*very. 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.
Abraham Lincoln: 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’ll ratify, most of ’em. As I figure, it remains for two of the Southern states to do the same, even after all are readmitted. And I’ve been working on that.
Alexander Stephens: Tennessee and Louisiana.
Abraham Lincoln: Arkansas too, most likely. It’ll be ratified. Sl*very, sir, it’s done.
[Hunter rises and starts walking out of the room]
Abraham Lincoln: 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 democratic process, as frustrating as that can be…
Judge John A. Campbell: Come sir, spare us at least these pieties. Did you defeat us with ballots?
Alexander Stephens: How’ve 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.
Abraham Lincoln: 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.
[Lincoln pauses for a moment]
Abraham Lincoln: Shall we stop this bleeding?
[Lincoln rides slowly on the frontline outside of Petersburg, Virginia, saddened by the sight of all the dead and wounded soldiers; later he meets Grant at his headquarters in in Petersburg, they sit outside on the porch]
Abraham Lincoln: Once he surrenders, send his boys back to their homes, their farms, their shops.
Ulysses S. Grant: Yes sir, as we discussed.
Abraham Lincoln: Liberality all around, not punishment, I don’t want that. And the leaders, Jeff and the rest of ’em, if 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.
Ulysses S. Grant: By outward appearance, you’re ten years older than you were a year ago.
[Lincoln, looking very tired, nods his head]
Abraham Lincoln: Some weariness has bit at my bones.
[he pauses for a moment, thinking]
Abraham Lincoln: I never seen the like of it before. What I seen today. Never seen the like of it before.
Ulysses S. Grant: You always knew that, what this was going to be. Intimate, and ugly. You must’ve needed to see it close when you decided to come down here.
[Lincoln stands, puts his hat on and shakes Grant’s hand]
Abraham Lincoln: We’ve made it possible for one another to do terrible things.
Ulysses S. Grant: We have won the war. Now you have to lead us out of it.
[we see on April 9, 1865 General Lee formally surrendering to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia; sometime later Lincoln is taking a buggy ride with Mary through Washington]
Mary Todd Lincoln: You’ve an itch to travel?
Abraham Lincoln: Mm-hmm, I’d like that. To the West by rail.
Mary Todd Lincoln: Overseas!
Abraham Lincoln: The Holy Land.
Mary Todd Lincoln: Awfully pious for a man who takes his wife out buggy-riding on Good Friday.
Abraham Lincoln: Jerusalem. Where David and Solomon walked. I dream of walking in that ancient city.
Mary Todd Lincoln: All anyone will remember of me is I was crazy and I ruined your happiness.
Abraham Lincoln: Anyone thinks that doesn’t understand, Molly.
Mary Todd Lincoln: 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 an ordinary person. For anyone other than you.
[Lincoln smiles and pats her hand]
Abraham Lincoln: We must try to be happier. We must. Both of us. We’ve been so miserable for so long.
[in his office Lincoln is drawing up the plans for reconstruction]
Abraham Lincoln: I did say some colored men, the intelligent, the educated, and veterans, I qualified it.
James Ashley: Mr. Stevens is furious, he wants to know why you qualified it…
Schuyler Colfax: No one heard the intelligent or the educated part. All they heard was the first time any president has ever made mention of N***o voting.
Abraham Lincoln: Still, I wish I’d mentioned it in a better speech.
James Ashley: Mr. Stevens also wants to know why you didn’t make a better speech.
[Ashley and Colfax laugh, there’s a knock on the door and Nicolay enters]
John Nicolay: Mrs. Lincoln’s 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.
[Lincoln nods, then Slade enters with Lincoln’s hat, coat and gloves]
Abraham Lincoln: Am I in trouble?
William Slade: No, sir.
Abraham Lincoln: Thank you, Mr. Slade.
[Lincoln begins to dress hurriedly, Slade hands Lincoln his gloves, Colfax and Ashley finish their drinks and rise]
Abraham Lincoln: I suppose it’s time to go, though I would rather stay.
[Lincoln turns and leaves the room, he tosses the gloves on a side table, Slade grabs them and holds them up to go after Lincoln but stops, as Slade is about to return to Lincoln’s office he turns again and watches as Lincoln walks away]
[later that evening at the theater, we see Tad watching the play, suddenly the play stops and the curtains fall, a man comes onto the stage looking visibly upset]
Leonard Grover: The President has been shot!
[there are screams of horror from the audience and people leap from their seats]
Leonard Grover: The President has been shot at Ford’s Theater!
[Tad starts screaming and crying]
[Lincoln is in a room surrounded by his closest friends and advisers, Robert sits by Lincoln’s bedside and Mary cries as the doctor is checking Lincoln’s breathing]
Dr. Joseph K. Barnes: It’s 7:22 in the morning, Saturday the 15th of April. It’s all over. The President is no more.
Edwin Stanton: Now he belongs to the ages.
[Robert begins to weep and we hear Lincoln voice, giving one of his speeches]
Abraham Lincoln: [voice over] Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.
[then we see Lincoln standing at the podium, giving a speech before the Capitol Dome]
Abraham Lincoln: Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman’s two hundred and fifty 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 three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’
[last lines; he pauses for a moment as he looks at the large crowd]
Abraham Lincoln: 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.