Lincoln (2012) Script

Some of us was in the Second Kansas Colored.

We fought the Rebs at Jenkins' Ferry last April just after they killed every Negro soldier they captured at Poison Springs.

So at Jenkins' Ferry, we decided warn't takin' no Reb prisoners.

And we didn't leave a one of 'em alive.

The ones of us that didn't die that day, we joined up with the 116th U.S. Colored, sir, from Camp Nelson, Kentucky.

What's your name, soldier?

Private. Harold Green, sir.

I'm Corporal Ira Clark, sir.

Fifth Massachusetts Cavalry.

We're waiting over there.

We're leaving our horses behind and shipping out with the 24th Infantry for the assault next week on Wilmington.

How long have you been a soldier?

Two years, sir.

The Second Kansas Colored Infantry, they fought bravely at Jenkins' Ferry.

That's right, sir.

They killed a thousand Rebel soldiers, sir.

They were very brave.

And making $3 less each month than white soldiers.

Us Second Kansas boys...

Another $3 subtracted from our pay for our uniforms.

That was true, yes sir, but that's changed.

Equal pay now, but still no commissioned Negro officers.

I'm aware of that, Corporal Clark.

Yes, sir. That's good that you're aware, sir...

Do you think the Wilmington attack...

Now that white people have accustomed themselves to seeing Negro men with guns fighting on their behalf, and now that they can tolerate Negro soldiers getting equal pay maybe in a few years, they can abide the idea of Negro lieutenants and captains.

In fifty years, maybe a Negro colonel.

In a hundred years, the vote.

What will you do after the war, Corporal Clark?

Work, sir.

Perhaps you'll hire me.

Perhaps I will.

But you should know, sir, that I get sick at the smell of boot black and I cannot cut hair.

I've yet to find a man could cut mine so that it'd make any difference.

You got springy hair for a white man.

Yes, I do.

My last barber hanged himself.

And the one before that.

Left me his scissors in his will.

President Lincoln, sir.

Good evening, boys.

We saw you, and...

We were at... We was at Gettysburg.

You boys fight at Gettysburg?

No, didn't fight there, we just signed up last month.

We saw him two years ago at the cemetery dedication.

Yeah. We heard you speak... Goddamn.

Hey, how tall are you, anyway?

Jeez, shut up.

Could you hear what I said?

No, sir. Not much.

It was...

"Four score and seven years ago,"

"our fathers brought forth from this continent"

"a new nation, conceived in liberty"

"and dedicated to the proposition"

"that all men are created equal."

That's good. Thank you.

"Now we are engaged in a great civil war,"

"testing whether that nation or any nation"

"so conceived and so dedicated,"

"can long endure."

"We are met on a great battlefield of that war."

That's good, thank you.

"We come to dedicate"

"a portion of that field"

"as a final resting place for those who here"

"gave their lives that that nation might live."

His uncles, they died on the second day of fighting.

I know the last part. It is...

Company up! Moving out!

You boys best go and find your company.

And thank you. Thank you, sir.

God bless you. God bless you, too.

God bless you.

"That we here highly resolve that these dead"

"shall not have died in vain."

"That this nation, under God,"

"shall have a new birth of freedom"

"and that government of the people, by the people,"

"for the people"

"shall not perish from the earth."

It's nighttime.

Ship's moved by some terribie power at a terrific speed.

And though it's imperceptible in the darkness, I have an intuition that we're headed towards a shore.

No one else seems to be aboard the vessel.

I'm very keenly aware of my aloneness.

"I could be bounded in a nutshell"

"and count myself a king of infinite space"

"were it not that I have bad dreams."

I reckon it's the speed that's strange to me.

I'm used to going at a deliberate pace.

I should spare you, Molly.

I shouldn't tell you my dreams.

I don't want to be spared if you aren't.

And you spare me nothing.

Perhaps it's...

It's the assault on Wilmington Port.

You dream about the ship before a battle, usually.

How's the coconut?

Beyond description.

Almost two years, nothing mends.

Another casualty of the war.

Who wants to listen to a useless woman grouse about her carriage accident?

I do. Stuff.

You tell me dreams, that's all.

I'm your soothsayer.

That's all I am to you anymore.

I'm not to be trusted even if it was not a carriage accident.

Even if it was an attempted assassination.

It was most probably an accident.

It was an assassin whose intended target was you.

How are the plans coming along for the big shindy?

I don't want to talk about parties.

You don't care about parties.

Not much, but they're a necessary hindrance.

I know.

I know what it's about, the ship.

It's not Wilmington Port. It's not a military campaign.

It's the amendment to abolish slavery.

Why else would you force me to invite demented radicals into my home?

You're going to try to get the amendment passed in the House of Representatives before the term ends?

Before the Inauguration?

Don't spend too much money on the flubdubs.

No one is loved as much as you.

No one's ever been loved so much by the people.

You might do anything now.

Don't... Don't waste that power on an amendment bill that's sure of defeat.

Did you remember Robert's coming home for the reception?

I knew you'd forget.

That's the ship you're sailing on, the 13th Amendment.

You needn't tell me I'm right. I know I am.

Oh, it's late, Mrs. Keckley.

Well, she needs this for the grand reception.

It's slow work.

Good night.

Did you tell her a dream?


Papa, I want to see Willie.

Me, too, Taddie, but we can't.

Why not?

Willie's gone.

It's three years now he's gone.

The part assigned to me is to raise the flag.

Which, if there be no fault in the machinery, I will do.

And when up it'll be for the people to keep it up.

That's my speech.

We are coming, Father Abraham Three hundred thousand more From Mississippi's winding stream And from New England's shore We leave our plow and workshops Our wives...

Even if every Republican in the House votes yes, far from guaranteed. Since when has our party unanimously supported anything?

But say all our fellow Republicans vote for it.

We'd still be twenty votes short.

Only twenty?

"Only twenty?"

We can find twenty votes.

Twenty House Democrats who'll vote to abolish slavery?

In my opinion...

To which I always listen.

Or pretend to. With all three of my ears.

We'll win the war soon.

It's inevitable, isn't it?

Well, it ain't won yet.

You'll begin your second term with semi-divine stature.

Imagine the possibilities peace will bring.

Why tarnish your invaluable luster with a battle in the House?

It's a rat's nest in there.

It's the same gang of talentless hicks and hacks who rejected the amendment 10 months ago.

We'll lose.

I like our chances now.

Well, consider the obstacles that we'd face.

The aforementioned two-thirds majority needed to pass an amendment.

We have a Republican majority, but barely more than 50%.


We need Democratic support. There's none to be had.

Since the House last voted on the amendment, there's been an election.

Sixty-four Democrats lost their House seats in November.

That's 64 Democrats looking for work come March.

I know.

They don't need to worry about re-election.

They can vote however it suits them.

But we can't buy the vote for the amendment.

It's too important.

I said nothing of buying anything.

We need twenty votes was all I said.

Start of my second term, plenty of positions to fill.

Mr. President, may I present Mr. and Mrs. Jolly who've come from Missouri...

From Jeff City, President.

Mr. Jolly.


And this here by the fire is Secretary of State Seward.

Jeff City?

I heard tell once of a Jefferson City lawyer who had a parrot that'd wake him each morning, crying out, "Today is the day the world shall end,"

"as scripture has foretold."

And one day... the lawyer shot him, for the sake of peace and quiet, I presume.

Thus fulfilling, for the bird at least, his prophecy.

There's only one toll booth in Jeff City, to the southwest and this man Heinz Sauermagen from Rolla been in illegal possession for near two yar since your man General Schofield set him up there.

But President Monroe give that toll gate to my granpap and Quincy Adams give my pap a letter saying it's our'n for keeps.

Mrs. Jolly got the...

Show Mr. Lincoln the Quincy Adams letter.

That's unnecessary, Mrs. Jolly.

Just tell me what you want from me.

Mr. Jolly's emphysema don't care for cigars.

Madame, do you know about the proposed

13th Amendment of the Constitution?

Yes, sir, everybody knows of it.

The President favors it.

Do you? We do.

You know that it abolishes slavery?

Yes, sir, I know it.

And is that why you favor it?

What I favor is ending the war.

Once we do away with slavery, the Rebs'll quit fighting since slavery's what they're fighting for.

Mr. Lincoln, you always says so.

With the amendment, slavery's ended.

And they'll give up. The war can finish then.

If the war finished first, before we end slavery...

President Lincoln says the war won't stop unless we finish slavery.

But if it did.

The South is exhausted.

If they run out of bullets and men would you still want your...

Who's your Representative?

Jeff City? That's Congressman Burton.

"Beanpole" Burton.

I mean, Josiah Burton, yes, sir.

A Republican, undecided on the question of the amendment, I believe.

Perhaps you could call on him and inform him of your enthusiasm.



If the Rebels surrendered next week would you, at the end of this month want Congressman Burton to vote for the 13th Amendment?

If that was how it was, no more war and all I reckon Mr. Jolly much prefer not to have Congress pass the amendment.

And... why is that?


If he don't have to let some Alabama coon come up to Missouri steal his chickens and his job, we'd much prefer that.

The people.

I begin to see why you're in such a great hurry to put it through.

Would you let me study this letter, sir, about the toll booth?

Come back to me in the morning and we'll consider what the law says.

You be sure to visit Beanpole.

Tell him that you support passage of the amendment as a military necessity.

Thank you.

Oh, Nicolay, when you have a moment.

If procuring votes with offers of employment is what you intend I'll fetch a friend from Albany who can supply the skulky men gifted at this kind of shady work and spare me the indignity of actually speaking to Democrats.

Spare you the exposure and liability.

Pardon me, that's a distress signal which I am bound, by solemn oath, to respond to.

Tom Pendel took away the glass camera plates of slaves Mr. Gardner sent over because Tom says Mama says they're too distressing.

You had nightmares all night long.

I'll have worse nightmares if you don't let me look at the plates again.


You can't afford a single defection from anyone in the party.

Not even a single Republican absent when they vote.

You know who you've got to see.

Send over to Blair House.

Ask Preston Blair can I call on him around 5:00.

God help you.

God alone knows what he'll ask you to give him.

If the Blaire tell them to, no Republican will balk at voting for the amendment.

No conservative Republican is what you mean.

All Republicans ought to be conservative.

I founded this party, in my own goddamn home, to be a conservative anti-slavery party, not a hobbyhorse for goddamn radical abolitionists.

Damp down the dyspepsia, Daddy.

You'll frighten the child.

You need us to keep the conservative side of the party in the traces while you diddle the radicals and bundle up with Thaddeus Stevens's gang!

You need our help!

Yes, sir, I do.

Well, what do we get?


Your manners, Monty, must be why Mr. Lincoln pushed you out of his Cabinet.

I wasn't pushed! Oh, of course you weren't.

He was pushed out to placate the damn radicals!

I agreed to resign. Oh, Daddy, please! Daddy.

You don't mind, boy, do you?

He spends his days with soldiers.

They taught me a song.

Did they?

Soldiers know all manner of songs.

How's your brother Bob?

He's at school now, but he's coming to visit in four days for the shindy.

At school. Ain't that fine?

Good he's not in the Army.

He wants to be, but Mama said he cannot.

Dangerous life, soldiering.

Your mama is wise to keep him clean out of that.

Now, your daddy knows that what I want in return for all the help I can give him is to go down to Richmond, like he said I could as soon as Savannah fell and talk to Jefferson Davis.

Now give me terms I can offer to Jefferson Davis to start negotiating for peace.

He'll talk to me.

Conservative members of your party want you to listen to overtures from Richmond.

That above all!

They'll vote for this rash and dangerous amendment only if every other possibility is exhausted.

Our Republicans ain't abolitionists.

We can't tell our people they can vote yes on abolishing slavery unless at the same time we can tell them that you're seeking a negotiated peace.

Leo, it's 100 miles to Richmond.

Get him drunk so he can sleep.

Yes, ma'am.

Here, Daddy.

Thank you. Yes, sir, all right.

Where's my hat?

Leo has your hat.

All right?

Go make peace.

Thunder forth, God of War.

We'll commence our assault on Wilmington from the sea.

Why is this burnt?

Was the boy playing with it?

It got took by a breeze several nights back.

This is an official War Department map.

And the entire Cabinet's waiting to hear what it portends.

A bombardment.

From the largest fleet the Navy has ever assembled.

Old Neptune, shake thy hoary locks!

Fifty-eight ships are under way, of every tonnage and firing range.

We'll keep up a steady barrage.

Our first target is Fort Fisher.

It defends Wilmington Port.

A steady barrage?

A hundred shells a minute.

Till they surrender.

Dear God.

Wilmington's their last open seaport, therefore...

Wilmington falls, Richmond falls after.

And the war is done.

Hear, hear!

Then why, if I might ask are we not concentrating the nation's attention on Wilmington?

Why, instead, are we reading in the Herald that the anti-slavery amendment is being precipitated onto the House floor for debate?

Because your eagerness, in what seems an unwarranted intrusion of the executive into legislative prerogatives, is compelling it to what's...

To what's likely to be its premature demise.

Hear, hear!

You signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

You've done all that could be done.

The Emancipation Proclamation's merely a war measure. After the war, the courts...

When Edward Bates was Attorney General, he felt confident enough to let you sign it!

Different lawyers, different opinions.

It frees slaves as a military exigent. Not...

I don't recall Edward Bates being any too certain about the legality of my proclamation.

Just it wasn't downright criminal.

Somewheres in between.

Back when I rode the legal circuit in Illinois, I defended a woman from Metamora named Melissa Goings.

Seventy-seven years old.

They said she'd murdered her husband. He was 83.

He was choking her and she grabbed a hold of a stick of firewood and fractured his skull and he died.

In his will, he wrote,

"I expect she has killed me."

"If I get over it, I will have revenge."

No one was keen to see her convicted, he was that kind of husband.

I asked the prosecuting attorney if I might have a short conference with my client.

She and I went into a room in the courthouse, but I alone emerged.

The window in the room was found to be wide open.

It was believed the old lady may have climbed out of it.

I told the bailiff, right before I left her in the room she asked me where she could get a good drink of water, and I told her, Tennessee.

Mrs. Goings was seen no more in Metamora.

Enough justice had been done.

They even forgave the bondsman her bail.

I'm afraid I don't see...

I decided that the Constitution gives me war powers but no one knows just exactly what those powers are.

Some say they don't exist.

I don't know. I decided I needed them to exist to uphold my oath to protect the Constitution.

Which I decided meant I could take the Rebels' slaves from them as property confiscated in war.

That might recommend to suspicion that I agree with the Rebs that their slaves are property in the first place.

Of course, I don't. Never have.

I'm glad to see any man free, and if calling a man property or war contraband does the trick, why I caught at the opportunity.

Now here's where it gets truly slippery.

I use the law allowing for the seizure of property in a war knowing it applies only to the property of governments and citizens of belligerent nations.

Well, the South ain't a nation.

That's why I can't negotiate with them.

So if, in fact, the Negroes are property, according to the law, have I the right to take the Rebels' property from them, if I insist they're rebels only and not citizens of a belligerent country?

And slipperier still, I maintain it ain't our actual Southern states in rebellion but only the rebels living in those states, the laws of which states remain in force.

"The laws of which states remain in force."

That means that since it's states' laws that determine whether Negroes can be sold as slaves, as property, the federal government doesn't have a say in that.

At least not yet.

Then Negroes in those states are slaves, hence property, hence my war powers allow me to confiscate them as such, so I confiscate them.

But if I'm a respecter of states' laws, how then can I legally free them with my Proclamation as I done?

Unless I'm canceling states' laws?

I felt the war demanded it.

My oath demanded it.

I felt right with myself, and I hoped it was legal to do it.

I'm hoping still.

Two years ago, I proclaimed these people emancipated.

"Then, thenceforward and forever free."

Now let's say the courts decide I had no authority to do it. They might well decide that.

Say there's no amendment abolishing slavery, say it's after the war and I can no longer use my war powers to just ignore the courts' decisions like I sometimes felt I had to do.

Might those people I freed be ordered back into slavery?

That's why I'd like to get the 13th Amendment through the House, on its way to ratification by the states.

Wrap the whole slavery thing up, forever and aye, as soon as I'm able. Now!

End of this month.

And I'd like you to stand behind me like my Cabinet's most always done.

As the preacher said, "I could write shorter sermons,"

"but once I start, I get too lazy to stop."

It seems to me, sir, you're describing precisely the sort of dictator the Democrats have been howling about.

Dictators aren't susceptible to law.

Neither is he. He just said as much.

Ignoring the courts? Twisting meanings?

What reins him in from... From...

Well, the people do that, I suppose.

I signed the Emancipation Proclamation, what, a year and a half before my second election?

I felt I was within my power to do it, however, I also felt that I might be wrong about that.

I knew the people would tell me.

I gave them a year and a half to think about it, and they re-elected me.

And come February the first, I intend to sign the 13th Amendment!

Well, Mr. Representative Ashley.

Tell us the news from the Hill.

Well, the news...

Why, for instance, is this thus, and what is the reason for this thusness?

James, we want you to bring the anti-slavery amendment to the floor for debate, immediately. Excuse me, what?

You are the amendment's manager, are you not?

I am, of course, but...

Then we're counting on robust radical support so tell Mr. Stevens we expect him to put his back into it.

It's not going to be easy, but...

It's impossible.

No. I am sorry, no.

We can't organize anything immediately in the House.

I have been canvassing the Democrats since the election, in case any of them have softened after they got walloped, but they have stiffened, if anything, Mr. Secretary.

There aren't nearly enough votes.

We're whalers, Mr. Ashley.

Whalers? As in... Whales?

We've been chasing this whale for a long time.

And we finally placed a harpoon in the monster's back.

It's in, James. It's in.

We finish the deed now. We can't wait.

Or with one flop of his tail, he'll smash the boat and send us all to eternity.

On the 31 st of this month, of this year, put the amendment up for a vote.


That's what he said.

The man's never been near a whale ship in his life.

Withdraw radical support.

Force him to abandon this scheme, whatever he's up to.

He drags his feet about everything, Lincoln... Why this urgency?

We got it through the Senate without difficulty because we had the numbers.

Come December, you'll have the same in the House.

The amendment will be the easy work of 10 minutes.

He's using the threat of the amendment to frighten the Rebels into an immediate surrender.

I imagine we'd rejoice to see that.

Will you rejoice when the Southern states have rejoined the Union pell-mell, as Lincoln intends them to, and one by one, each refuses to ratify the amendment?

If we pass it, which we won't.

Why are we cooperating with him?

We all know what he's doing and we all know what he'll do.

We can't offer up abolition's best legal prayer to his games and tricks.

He said he'd welcome the South back with all its slaves in chains.

Three years ago he said that, to calm the border states.

I don't!

You said we all know what he'll do. I don't know.

You know he isn't to be trusted.


I'm sorry, I was under the misapprehension that your chosen profession was politics.

I never trusted the President, never trusted anyone, but hasn't he surprised you?

No, Mr. Stevens, he hasn't.

Nothing surprises you, Asa, therefore nothing about you is surprising.

Perhaps that is why your constituents did not re-elect you to the coming term.

It's late.

I'm old.

I'm going home.

Lincoln, the inveterate dawdler.

Lincoln, the Southerner.

Lincoln, the capitulating compromiser, our adversary, and leader of the godforsaken Republican party.

Our party.

Abraham Lincoln has asked us to work with him to accomplish the death of slavery in America.

Retain, even in opposition your capacity for astonishment.

The President is never to be mentioned. Nor I.

You're paid for your discretion.

Hell, you can have that for nothing.

What we need money for is bribes, to speed things up.

No, nothing strictly illegal.

It's not illegal to bribe Congressmen, they'd starve otherwise.

I have explained to Mr. Bilbo and Mr. Latham that we are offering patronage jobs to the Dems who vote yes.

Jobs and nothing more. That's correct.

Congressmen come cheap.

Few thousand bucks will buy you all you need.

The President would be unhappy to hear you did that.

Will he be unhappy if we lose?

The money I managed to raise for this endeavor is only for your fees, your food and lodging.

If that squirrel-infested attic you've quartered us in is any measure, you ain't raised much.

Shall we get to work?

The House recognizes Fernando Wood, the honorable Representative from New York.

Estimable colleagues.

Two bloody years ago this month His Highness, King Abraham Africanus the First, our great usurping Caesar, violator of habeas corpus and freedom of the press, abuser of states' rights...

If Lincoln really were a tyrant, Mr. Wood, he'd have had your empty head impaled on a pike!

And the country better for it!

Radical Republican autocrat, ruling by fiat and martial law, affixed his name to his heinous and illicit Emancipation Proclamation promising it would hasten the end of the war, which yet rages on and on.

He claimed, as tyrants do that the war's emergencies permitted him to turn our army into...

The New York delegation is looking decidedly uninspired.

And radical Republicanism's abolitionist fanaticism!

His Emancipation Proclamation has obliterated millions of dollars...

Over in Pennsylvania, who's the sweaty man eating his thumb?

Unknown to me. Seems jumpy.

Perhaps he'll jump.

But all that was not enough for this dictator, who now seeks to insinuate...


When's this son of liberty sum-a-bitch gonna sit down?

John Ellis is gonna break his watch if he doesn't stop.

We are once again asked, nay commanded, to consider a proposed 13th Amendment which, if passed, shall set at immediate liberty four million coloreds while manacling the limbs of the white race in America.

If it is passed, but it shall not pass!

What's more interesting is how dismal and disgruntled Mr. Yeaman appears.

Every member of this House...

He should be cheering right now.

Looks like he ate a bad oyster.

Party and the constituents it serves shall oppose...

Point of order, Mr. Speaker, if you please.

Mr. Speaker, I still have the floor.

And the gentleman from Pennsylvania is out of order!

When will Mr. Wood conclude his interminable gabble?

Some of us breathe oxygen and we find the mephitic fumes of his oratory a lethal challenge to our pulmonary capabilities!

We shall oppose this amendment, and any legislation that so affronts natural law insulting to God as to man!

Congress must never declare equal those whom God created unequal!

Slavery is the only insult to natural law, you fatuous nincompoop!


Procedure, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Wood has the floor.

Instruct us, oh, Great Commoner.

What is unnatural, in your opinion?

Niggrahs casting ballots?

Niggrah representatives?

Is that natural, Stevens?


What violates natural law?

Slavery and you.

Pendleton, you insult God!

You unnatural noise.

Mr. Colfax, please, use your gavel!

You are out of order! Order in the Cabinet!

Instruct the Sergeant-at-Arms to suppress this!

We are in session!

Please don't encourage this!

Don't encourage this!

You're back! You're back! You're back!

I am. The goat got big.

Help me get one of these to my room.

She in there? She's asleep, probably.

You need help, sir? No, sir.

They went to see Avonia Jones last night in a play about Israelites.

Could you bring your pa this letter I writ about my insolvency proceeding?

Deliver your own goddamn petition.

There's a new book. Sam Beckwith says it's about finches and finches' beaks, about how they change.

He's here.

He's here! Mrs. Cuthbert, he's here!

Robbie. Hi, Mom.

Oh, Robbie. Hey.

Robbie. Hey.

You're only staying a few days, why'd you pack all that?

Well, I don't know how long...

Go tell your father Robert's home.

Mr. Nicolay says Daddy's secluded with Mr. Blair.

Tell him anyway.

Did you forget to eat?

Exactly like him. No.

You'll linger a few days extra after the reception before you go back to school.

Well, I don't know if I'm going to go back...

We'll fatten you up before you return to Boston.

All right, Mom. All right.

Oh, Robbie.

Jefferson Davis is sending three delegates.

Stephens, Hunter and Campbell.

Vice President of the Confederacy, the former Secretary of State and their Assistant Secretary of War.

They're coming in earnest to propose peace.

I know this is unwelcome news for you.

Now hear me.

I went to Richmond to talk to traitors.

To smile at and plead with traitors because it'll be spring in two months.

The roads will be passable, the spring slaughter commences.

Four bloody springs now.

Think of my Frank, whom you've taken to your heart.

How you'll blame yourself if the war takes my son as it's taken multitudes of sons.

Think of all the boys who will die if you don't make peace.

You must talk with these men.

I intend to, Preston.

In return, I must ask you to support our push for the amendment...

No, this is not horse trading.

Not now!

Bob. I'm sorry.

Welcome home. Thank you, sir.

Looking fit, Robert. Harvard agrees with you.

Mr. Blair. Fit and rested.

Could you give us a moment, please, Robert? Thank you.

I will procure your votes for you, as I promised.

You have always kept your word to me.

Those Southern men are coming.

I beg you, in the name of gentle Christ, sir.

I understand.

Talk peace with these men.

I understand, Preston.

We have one abstention so far.

Jacob Graylor.

He'd like to be Federal Revenue Assessor for the 5th District of Pennsylvania.

So the total of Representatives voting three weeks from today is reduced to 182, which means 122 yes votes to reach the requisite two-thirds of the House.

Assuming all Republicans vote for the amendment.

Then despite our abstention, to reach a two-thirds majority, we remain twenty yeses short.

For which we're seeking from among 64 lame duck Democrats.

Fully 39 of these we deem unredeemable no votes.

The kind that hates niggers.

Hates God for makin' niggers.

The Good Lord on high would despair of their souls.

Thank you for that pithy explanation, Mr. Bilbo.

We've abandoned these 39 to the devil that possesses them.

We would...

The remaining lame ducks, on whom we've been working with a purpose.

Charles Hanson.


My colleagues and I would like a moment of your time.

I wonder if you've given much thought...

Giles Stuart.

Rather clumsy.

Nelson Merrick.

Homer Benson.

My name is Richard Schell.

I wanted you to have a look at this prospectus here.

And lastly, Clay Hawkins. Of Ohio.

Tax Collector for the Western Reserve.

That pays handsomely.

Don't just reach for the highest branches, they sway in every breeze.

Assistant Port Inspector in Morristown looks like the ticket to me.

Boats, they, they make me sick.

So just stand on the dock.

Let the Assistant Assistant Port Inspector's stomach go weak.

And, lastly, Democratic yes vote number six, Hawkins.

From Ohio.


Well, thus far.

Plus Graylor's abstention.

From tiny acorns and so on. What did Hawkins get?

Postmaster of the Millersburg Post Office.

He's selling himself cheap, ain't he?

Well, he wanted Tax Collector of the Western Reserve.

First term Congressman who couldn't manage reelection.

I felt it unseemly and they bargained him down to Postmaster.

Scatter them over several rounds of appointments so no one notices, then burn this ledger, please, after you're done.

Time for my public opinion bath.

Might as well let them in.

Seven yeses with Mr. Ellis.

Thirteen to go.

One last item.

An absurdity, but my associates report that among the Representatives a fantastical rumor's bruited about, which I immediately disavowed, that you'd allowed bleary old Preston Blair to sojourn to Richmond to invite Jeff Davis to send commissioners up to Washington with a peace plan.

I, of course, told them that you would never.

Not without consulting me, you wouldn't.

Because why on earth would you?

Much obliged.

Why wasn't I consulted?

I'm Secretary of State.

And you informally send a reactionary dotard to...

What will happen, do you imagine, when these peace commissioners arrive?

We'll hear them out.


And next, the Democrats will invite them up to hearings on the Hill.

And the newspapers... Oh, the newspapers.

The newspapers will ask, "Why risk enraging the Confederacy"

"over the issue of slavery"

"when they're here to make peace?"

We'll lose every Democrat we've got, more than likely conservative Republicans will join them, and all our work, all our preparing the ground for the vote laid waste for naught.

The Blaire promised support for the amendment if we listen to these people.

Oh, the Blaire promise, do they?

You think they'll keep their promise once we've heard these delegates and refused them, which we will have to do, since their proposal most certainly will be predicated on keeping their slaves!

What hope for any Democratic votes, Willum, if word gets out that I've refused a chance to end the war?

You think word won't get out?

In Washington?

It's either the amendment or this Confederate peace.

You cannot have both.

"If you can look into the seeds of time,."

"And say which grain will grow and which will not,"

"Speak then to me."

A disaster. This is a disaster.

Time is a great thickener of things, Willum.

Yes, I suppose it is.

Actually, I have no idea what you mean by that.

Get me 13 votes.

Them fellas from Richmond ain't here yet.

You drafted half the men in Boston.

What do you think their families think about me?

The only reason they don't throw things and spit on me is 'cause you're so popular.

I can't concentrate on, on British Mercantile Law.

I don't care about British Mercantile Law.

I might not even want to be a lawyer.

It's a sturdy profession. And a useful one.

Yes, and I want to be useful, but now, not afterwards.

I ain't wearing them things, Mr. Slade.

They never fit right.

The missus will have you wear them. Don't think...

You're delaying, that's your favorite tactic.

Be useful... You won't tell me no, but the war will be over in a month, and you know it will.

I've found that prophesying is one of life's less profitable occupations.

Why do some slaves cost more than others?

If they're still young and healthy, or if the women can still conceive, they pay more.

Put them back in the box, you scoundrel.

We'll return them to Mr. Gardner's studio day after next.

Be careful with them now.

These things should have stayed on the calf.

When you were a slave, Mr. Slade, did they beat you?

I was born a free man.

Nobody beat me except I beat them right back.

Mr. Lincoln...

Mrs. Keckley was a slave. Ask her if she was beaten.

Were you... Tad.

I was beaten with a fire shovel when I was younger than you.

You should go to Mrs. Lincoln. She's in Willie's room.

She never goes in there.

The reception line is already stretching out the door.

See, I'll be the only man over 15 and under 65 in this whole place not in uniform.

I'm under 15.

My head hurts so.

I prayed for death the night Willie died.

My headaches are how I know I didn't get my wish.

How to endure the long afternoon and deep into the night.

I know.

Trying not to think about him. How will I manage?

Somehow. You will. Somehow?

Somehow. Somehow.

Every party.


And now four years more in this terrible house, reproaching us.

He was a very sick little boy.

We should have canceled that reception, shouldn't we?

We didn't know how sick he was.

I knew. I knew.

I saw that night he was dying.

Three years ago, the war was going so badly.

We had to put on a face.

But I saw Willie was dying.


I saw him.

It's too hard.

Too hard.

Oh, gracious saints!

She's just ten feet yonder. I'd like to keep my job.

How nice to see you. Nice to see you.

Senator Sumner. It's been much too long.

"Oh, who can look on that celestial face..."


James Ashley, ma'am. We've met several times.

Praise heavens, praise heavens.

Just when I had abandoned hope of amusement, it's the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Mrs. Lincoln.

Madame President, if you please.

Don't convene another subcommittee to investigate me, sir.

I'm teasing. Smile, Senator Wade.

I believe I am smiling, Mrs. Lincoln.

As long as your household accounts are in order, madam, we'll have no need to investigate them.

You have always taken such a lively, even prosecutorial interest in my household accounts.

Your household accounts have always been so interesting.

Yes, thank you. It's true.

The miracles I have wrought out of fertilizer bills and cutlery invoices, but I had to.

Four years ago, when the President and I arrived, this was pure pigsty.

Tobacco stains on the Turkey carpets.

Mushrooms, green as the moon, sprouting from the ceilings.

And a pauper's pittance allotted for improvements.

As if your committee joined with all of Washington awaiting in what you anticipated would be our comfort in squalor.

Further proof that my husband and I were prairie primitives unsuited to the position to which an error of the people, a flaw in the Democratic process had elevated us.

The past is the past. It's a new year now and we are all getting along, or so they tell me.

I gather we are working together.

The White House and the other House, hatching little plans together.

Mother. What?

You're creating a bottleneck.

Oh, I'm detaining you.

And more importantly, the people behind you.

How the people love my husband.

They flock to see him by their thousands on public days.

They will never love you the way they love him.

How difficult it must be for you to know that and yet how important to remember it.

Since we have the floor next in the debate, I thought I'd suggest you might temper your contribution so as not to frighten our conservative friends.

Ashley insists you're ensuring approval by dispensing patronage to otherwise undeserving Democrats.

I can't ensure a single damn thing if you scare the whole House silly with talk of land appropriations and revolutionary tribunals.

When the war ends, I intend to push for full equality, the Negro vote, and much more.

Congress shall mandate the seizure of every foot of Rebel land and every dollar of their property.

We'll use their confiscated wealth to establish hundreds of thousands of free Negro farmers and, at their side, soldiers armed to occupy and transform the heritage of traitors.

We'll build up a land down there of free men and free women and free children and freedom.

The nation needs to know that we have such plans.

That's the untempered version of reconstruction.

It is not...

It's not quite exactly what I intend.

But we shall oppose one another in the course of time.

Now we're working together, and I'm asking you...

For patience, I expect.

When the people disagree, bringing them together requires going slow until they're ready to...

Shit on the people and what they want and what they're ready for.

I don't give a goddamn about the people and what they want.

This is the face of someone who has fought long and hard for the good of the people without caring much for any of them.

And I look a lot worse without my wig.

The people elected me to represent them, to lead them, and I lead. You ought to try it.

I admire your zeal, Mr. Stevens and I have tried to profit from the example of it, but if I'd listened to you, I'd have declared every slave free the minute the first shell struck Fort Sumter.

And the border states would have gone over to the Confederacy, the war would have been lost and the Union along with it, and instead of abolishing slavery as we hope to do in two weeks, we'd be watching, helpless as infants, as it spread from the American South into South America.

Oh, how you have longed to say that to me.

You claim you trust them, but you know what the people are.

You know that the inner compass, that should direct the soul towards justice has ossified in white men and women, North and South, unto utter uselessness, through tolerating the evil of slavery.

White people cannot bear the thought of sharing this country's infinite abundance with Negroes.

A compass, I learned when I was surveying, it'll point you true north from where you're standing.

But it's got no advice about the swamps and deserts and chasms that you'll encounter along the way.

If in pursuit of your destination, you plunge ahead, heedless of obstacles and achieve nothing more than to sink in a swamp, what's the use of knowing true north?

Robert's going to plead with us to let him enlist.

Make time to talk to Robbie. You only have time for Tad.

Tad is young.

So is Robert. Too young for the Army.

Plenty of boys younger than Robert signing up.

Don't take Robbie.

Don't let me lose my son.

Go away! We're occupied!

Secretary Stanton has sent over to tell you that as of half an hour ago the shelling of Wilmington Harbor has commenced.

They cannot possibly maintain under this kind of an assault.

Terry has got 10,000 men surrounding the goddamn port.

Why doesn't he answer...

Fort Fisher is a mountain of a building, Edwin.

It's the largest fort they have, sir.

Twenty-two big Seacoast guns on each rampart.

They've been reinforcing it for the last two years.

They've taken 17,000 shells since yesterday!

I want to hear Fort Fisher is ours and Wilmington has fallen.

Send another damn cable!

The problem's their commander, Whiting!

He engineered the fortress himself, the damn thing's his child.

He'll defend it till his every last man is gone.

"Come on out, you old rat!"

That's what Ethan Allen called out to the commander of Fort Ticonderoga in 1776.

"Come on out, you old rat!"

Of course, there were only

40 odd Redcoats at Ticonderoga.

There is one Ethan Allen story that I'm very partial to.

No, you're going to tell a story.

I don't believe that I can bear to listen to another one of your stories right now.

I need the B&O sideyard schedules for Alexandria!

I asked for them this morning!

It was right after the Revolution, right after peace had been concluded.

And Ethan Allen went to London to help our new country conduct its business with the King.

The English sneered at how rough we are and rude and simple-minded, and on like that, everywhere he went till one day he was invited to the townhouse of a great English lord.

Dinner was served and beverages imbibed, time passed, as happens, and Mr. Allen found he needed the privy.

He was grateful to be directed thence.

Relieved, you might say.

Now, Mr. Allen discovered on entering the water closet, that the only decoration therein was a portrait of George Washington.

Ethan Allen done what he came to do, and returned to the drawing room.

His host and the others were disappointed when he didn't mention Washington's portrait.

Finally, His Lordship couldn't resist and asked Mr. Allen had he noticed it, the picture of Washington.

He had.

Well, what did he think of its placement, did it seem appropriately located to Mr. Allen?

Mr. Allen said it did.

His host was astounded.


"George Washington's likeness in a water closet?"

"Yes," said Mr. Allen. "Where it'll do good service.

"The whole world knows nothing will make an Englishman"

"shit quicker than the sight of George Washington."

I love that story.

Fort Fisher is ours. We've taken the port.

And Wilmington?

We've taken the fort, but the city of Wilmington has not surrendered.

How many casualties?

Heavy losses. And more to come.

It sours the national mood. It might suffice...

To what? To bring this down?

Not in a fight like this. This is to the death.

That's gruesome.

Are you despairing or merely lazy?

This fight is for the United States of America.

Nothing "suffices." A rumor? Nothing.

They're not lazy. They're busily buying votes while we hope to be saved by "the national mood"?

Before this blood is dry, when Stevens next takes the floor, taunt him. You excel at that.

Get him to proclaim what we all know he believes in his coal-colored heart.

That this vote is meant to set the black race on high, to niggerate America...

George, please, stay on course.

Bring Stevens to full froth.

I can ensure that every newspaperman from Louisville to San Francisco will be here to witness it and print it.

The floor belongs to the mellifluent gentleman from Kentucky, Mr. George Yeaman.

I thank you, Speaker Colfax.

Although I am disgusted by slavery,

I rise on this sad and solemn day to announce that I'm opposed to the amendment.

We must consider what will become of colored folk if four million are, in one instant, set free.

They'll be free, George, that's what will become of them.

Think how splendid if Mr. Yeaman switched.

Too publicly against us. He can't change course now.

Not for some miserable little job, anyways.

And we will be forced to enfranchise the men of the colored race.

It would be inhuman not to.

Now who among us is prepared to give Negroes the vote?

And, and, what shall follow upon that?

Universal enfranchisement?

Votes for women?


Bless my eyes.

If it isn't the Postmaster of Millersburg, Ohio.

Mr. LeClerk felt honor-bound to inform us of your disgusting betrayal.

Your prostitution.

Is that true, Postmaster Hawkins?

Is your maidenly virtue for sale?

If my neighbors hear that I voted yes for nigger freedom and no to peace, they will kill me.

A deal is a deal.

You men know better than to piss your pants just 'cause there's talk about peace talks.

Look, I'll find another job! My neighbors in Nashville, they found out I was loyal to the Union, they came after me with gelding knives.

I'll find another job. You do right, Clay Hawkins.

I want to do right! But I got no courage!

Wait. You wanted... What was it?

A tax man for the Western Reserve?

Hell, you can have the whole state of Ohio if you want...

Oh, crap.

Eleven votes?

Two days ago, we had twelve. What happened?

There are defections in the ranks.

It's the goddamn rumors regarding the Richmond delegation.

Yes. The peace offer. Groundless.

And yet the rumors persist. They are ruining us.

Among the few remaining Representatives who seem remotely plausible, there is a perceptible increase in resistance.

Resistance, hell.

Thingamabob Hollister, Dem from Indiana.

I approached him, sumbitch near to murdered me.

Colorado Territory... What's this one?

Job description... Taxpayers and...

Oh, shit! Cracky!

Fuck you, you son of a bitch! Goddamn!

Perhaps you pushed too hard. I push nobody.

Perhaps we need reinforcements.

If Jeff Davis wants to cease hostilities, who do you think is going to give a genuine solid shit to free slaves?

Get back to it.

And gentlemen, good day.

We are at an impasse.

Tell Lincoln to deny the rumors, publicly.

Tell us what you expect of us.

I expect you to do your work.

And have sufficient sense and taste not to presume to instruct the President.

Or me.

Is there a Confederate offer, or not?


I suggest you work some changes to your proposal before you give it to the President.

We're eager to be on our way to Washington.

Mr. Lincoln tell you to tell us this?

It says "securing peace for our two countries" and it goes on like that.

I don't... There is just one country.

You and I, we're citizens of that country.

I'm fighting to protect it from armed rebels.

From you.

But Mr. Blair, he told us, he told President Jefferson Davis that we...

A private citizen like Preston Blair can say what he pleases, since he has no authority over anything.

If you want to discuss peace with President Lincoln, consider revisions.

If we're not to discuss a truce between warring nations, what in heaven's name can we discuss?

Terms of surrender.

"Office United States Military Telegraph,"

"War Department."

"For Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States."

"January 20, 1865."

"I will state confidentially that I am convinced"

"upon conversation with these commissioners"

"that their intentions are good"

"and their desire sincere to restore peace and union."

"I fear now they're going back"

"without any expression of interest from anyone"

"in authority, Mr. Lincoln, will have a bad influence."

"I will be sorry should it prove impossible for you"

"to have an interview with them."

"I am awaiting your instructions."

"U.S. Grant, Lieutenant General,"

"Commanding Armies, United States."

After four years of war, and near 600,000 lives lost, he believes we can end this war now.

My trust in him is marrow deep.

You could bring the delegates to Washington.

In exchange for the South's immediate surrender, we could promise them the amendment's defeat.

They'd agree, don't you think? We'd end the war. This week.

Or, if you could manage without seeming to do it, to...

The peace delegation might encounter delays as they travel up the James River.

Particularly with the fighting around Wilmington.

Within ten days' time, we might pass the 13th Amendment.

Here's a 16-year-old boy, they're going to hang him.

He's with the Fifteenth Indiana Cavalry near Bulford.

It seems he lamed his horse to avoid battle.

I don't think even Stanton would complain if I pardoned him.

You think Stanton would complain?

I don't know, sir. I don't know who you're...

What time is it? It's 3:40 in the morning.

Don't let him pardon any more deserters.

Mr. Stanton thinks you pardon too many.

He's generally apoplectic on the subject.

He oughtn't have done that, crippled his horse.

That was cruel, but you don't just hang a 16-year-old boy for that...

Ask the horse what he thinks.

For cruelty. There'd be no 16-year-old boys left.

Grant wants me to bring the secesh delegates to Washington.

So there are secesh delegates?

He was afraid, that's all it was.

I don't care to hang a boy for being frightened, either.

What good would it do him?

War's nearly done, ain't that so?

What use is one more corpse?

Any more corpses?

Do you need company?

In times like this, I'm best alone.

"Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, City Point."

"I have read your words with interest."

"I ask that,"

"regardless of any action I take in the matter"

"of the visit of the Richmond commissioners"

"you maintain among your troops"

"military preparedness for battle"

"as you have done until now."

"Have Captain Saunders convey the commissioners to me

"here in Washington.

"A. Lincoln." And the date.

Yes, sir.

Shall I transmit, sir?

You think we choose to be born?

I don't suppose so.

Are we fitted to the times we're born into?

Well, I don't know about myself.

You may be, sir. Fitted.

What do you reckon?

Well, I'm an engineer.

I reckon there's machinery, but no one's done the fitting.

You're an engineer.

You must know Euclid's axioms and common notions.

I must have in school, but...

I never had much of schooling, but I read Euclid in an old book I borrowed.

Little enough ever found its way in here, but once learnt, it stayed learnt.

Euclid's first common notion is this, "Things which are equal to the same thing"

"are equal to each other."

That's a rule of mathematical reasoning.

It's true because it works.

Has done and always will do.

In his book...

Euclid says this is "self-evident."

You see? There it is, even in that 2,000-year-old book of mechanical law.

It is a self-evident truth that things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other.

We begin with equality.

That's the origin, isn't it?

That's balance. That's... That's fairness.

That's justice.

Just read me back the last sentence of the telegram, please.

"Have Captain Saunders convey the commissioners to me"

"here in Washington."

A slight emendation, if you would, Sam.

"Have Captain Saunders convey the gentlemen"

"aboard the River Queen"

"as far as Hampton Roads, Virginia,"

"and there wait until"

"further advice from me."

"Do not proceed to Washington."

The World, the Herald, the Times, New York, Chicago, the Journal of Commerce, even your hometown paper's here.

Say you believe only in legal equality for all races, not racial equality.

I beg you, sir.

Compromise. Or you risk it all.

I've asked you a question, Mr. Stevens, and you must answer me.

Do you or do you not hold that the precept that "All men are created equal" is meant literally?

Is that not the true purpose of the amendment?

To promote your ultimate and ardent dream to elevate...

The true purpose of the amendment, Mr. Wood, you perfectly named, brainless obstructive object...

Now you have always insisted, Mr. Stevens, that Negroes are the same as white men are.

The true purpose of the amendment...

I don't hold with equality in all things, only with equality before the law. Nothing more.

That's... That's not so.

You believe that Negroes are entirely equal to white men.

You've said it a thousand times!

For shame! For shame!

Stop prevaricating and answer Representative Wood!

I don't hold with equality in all things, only with equality before the law.

After the decades of fervent advocacy...

He's answered your questions!

This amendment's not to do with race equality.

I don't hold with equality in all things, only with equality before the law, and nothing more!

Who'd ever have guessed that old nightmare capable of such control?

He might make a politician someday.

I need to go.

Mrs. Keckley.

Your frantic attempt to delude us now is unworthy of a representative.

It is, in fact, unworthy of a white man!

How can I hold that all men are created equal when here before me stands, stinking, the moral carcass of the gentleman from Ohio, proof that some men are inferior, endowed by their Maker with dim wits, impermeable to reason, with cold, pallid slime in their veins instead of hot, red blood!

You are more reptile than man, George!

So low and flat that the foot of man is incapable of crushing you.

How dare you?

Yet even you, Pendleton, who should have been gibbeted for treason long before today.

Even worthless, unworthy you ought to be treated equally before the law!

And so again, sir, again and again and again I say, I do not hold with equality in all things, only with equality before the law.

Mr. Speaker, will you permit this vile, boorish man to slander and to threaten me?

And to reduce these proceedings on this most important matter into an anarchic and tawdry burlesque?

You asked if ever I was surprised.

Today, Mr. Stevens, I was surprised.

You've led the battle for race equality for 30 years.

The basis of every hope for this country's future life, you denied Negro equality. I'm nauseated.

You refused to say that all humans are...

Well, human.

Have you lost your very soul, Mr. Stevens?

Is there nothing you won't say?

I'm sorry you're nauseous, Asa.

That must be unpleasant.

I want the amendment to pass, so that the Constitution's first and only mention of slavery is its absolute prohibition.

For this amendment, for which I have worked all my life and for which countless colored men and women have fought and died and now hundreds of thousands of soldiers...

No, sir, no.

It seems there's very nearly nothing I won't say.

I'm not going in.

You said you wanted to help me.

But this is just a clumsy attempt to discourage me.

I've been to Army hospitals. I've seen surgeries.

I went and visited the malaria barges with Mama.

She told me she didn't take you inside.

I snuck in afterwards.

I've seen what it's like. This changes nothing.

Well, at all rate, son, I'm happy to have your company.

Good morning, Jim. Hello, Mr. President.

Good to see you again. Good to see you.

Well, boys, first question. You getting enough to eat?

Hello, sir.

What's your name, soldier? Robert.

Good to meet you, Robert. Nice to meet you.

What's your name? Kevin.

Tell me your names as I go past.

I'd like to know who I'm talking to. Kevin.

Mr. President. John. John. I've seen you before.

Mr. President.

Make sure you get some steak.

I wouldn't mind one myself, right now.

What's the matter, Bob?

I have to do this, and I will do it.

And I don't need your permission to enlist.

That same speech has been made by how many sons to how many fathers since the war began?

"I don't need your damn permission,"

"you miserable old goat, I'm gonna enlist anyhow."

And what wouldn't those numberless fathers have given to be able to say to their sons as I now say to mine, "I'm Commander in Chief."

So, in point of fact, without my permission you ain't enlisting in nothing nowhere, young man.

It's Mama you're scared of, it's not me getting killed.

I have to do this! And I will!

Or I will feel ashamed of myself for the rest of my life!

Whether or not you fought is what's gonna matter, and not just to other people, but to myself!

I won't be you, Pa, I can't do that, but I don't want to be nothing!

I can't lose you.

He'll be fine, Molly.

City Point's a way back from the front lines and the fighting.

He'll be an adjutant, running messages for General Grant.

The war will take our son.

A sniper, or a shrapnel shell, a typhus same as took Willie.

It takes hundreds of boys a day. He'll die uselessly.

And how will I ever forgive you?

Most men, their firstborn is their favorite.

You've always blamed Robert for being born.

For trapping you in a marriage that's only ever given you grief and caused you regret. That's simply not true.

And if the slaughter of Cold Harbor's on your hands same as Grant, God help us.

We'll pay for the oceans of spilled blood you've sanctioned, the uncountable corpses!

We'll be made to pay with our son's dear blood!

Just this once, Mrs. Lincoln, I demand of you to try and take the liberal and not the selfish point of view.

Robert will never forgive himself.

You imagine he'll forgive us if we continue to stifle this very natural ambition?

And if I refuse to take the high road?

If I won't pick up the rough old cross, will you threaten me again with the madhouse?

As you did when I couldn't stop crying over Willie.

When I showed you what heartbreak, real heartbreak, looked like.

And you hadn't the courage to countenance, to help me! That's right, that's right...

When you refused so much as to comfort Tad, a child who was not only sick, dangerously sick, but beside himself with grief!

I was holding him in my arms when he died.

But your grief, your grief, your inexhaustible grief!

How dare you throw that up at me?

And his mother wouldn't let him near her because she's screaming from morning to night!

I couldn't risk him seeing how angry I was!

Pacing the halls, howling at shadows and furniture and ghosts!

I ought to have done it for Tad's sake, for everybody's goddamn sake, I should have clapped you in the madhouse!

Then do it!

Do it! Don't you threaten me!

You do it this time. Lock me away.

You'll have to, I swear, if Robert is killed.

I couldn't tolerate you grieving so for Willie because I couldn't permit it in myself.

Though I wanted to, Mary.

I wanted to crawl under the earth, into the vault, with his coffin.

And I still do. Every day I do.

Don't speak to me about grief.

I must make my decisions, Bob must make his, you yours.

And bear what we must. Hold and carry what we must.

What I carry within me, you must allow me to do it.

Alone, as I must. And you alone, Mary, you alone may lighten this burden.

Or render it intolerable.

As you choose.

You think I'm ignorant of what you're up to because you haven't discussed this scheme with me as you ought to have done?

When have I ever been so easily bamboozled?

I believe you when you insist that amending the Constitution and abolishing slavery will end this war.

And since you are sending my son into the war, woe unto you if you fail to pass the amendment.

Seward doesn't want me leaving big muddy footprints all over town.

No one has ever lived who knows better than you the proper placement of footfalls on treacherous paths.

Seward can't do it. You must.

Because if you fail to acquire the necessary votes, woe unto you, sir. You will answer to me.

Thank you.

I know the vote is only four days away.

I know you're concerned.

Thank you for your concern over this.

And I want you to know, they'll approve it.

God will see to it.

I don't envy Him his task.

He may wish He'd chosen an instrument for His purpose more wieldy than the House of Representatives.

Then you'll see to it.

Are you afraid of what lies ahead for your people if we succeed?

White people don't want us here.

Many don't. What about you?

I don't know you, Mrs. Keckley.

Any of you.

You're familiar to me, as all people are, unaccommodated, poor, bare, forked creatures, such as we all are.

You have a right to expect what I expect.

And likely our expectations are not incomprehensible to each other.

I assume I'll get used to you.

Now what you are to the nation, what'll become of you once slavery's day is done, I don't know.

What my people are to be, I can't say.

Negroes have been fighting and dying for freedom since the first of us was a slave.

I never heard any ask what freedom would bring.

Freedom is first.

As for me, my son died fighting for the Union, wearing the Union blue.

For freedom he died.

And I'm his mother.

That's what I am to the nation, Mr. Lincoln.

What else must I be?

My whole hand's gonna be proud in about five seconds.

Let's see how proud you can be.

Go away. That watch fob, is that gold?

You keep your eyes off my fob.

Gentlemen, you have a visitor.

Goddamn! Hey, Bill.

Well, I'll be fucked.

I wouldn't bet against it.


W. N. Bilbo.

Yeah, Mr. Bilbo. Gentlemen.


Why are you here? No offense, but Mr. Seward's banished the very mention of your name.

He won't even let us use fifty cent pieces

'cause they've got your face on 'em.

The Secretary of State here tells me that you got

11 Democrats in the bag. That's encouraging.

Oh, you've got no cause to be encouraged, sir.

Are we being fired?

"We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow."

I'm here to alert you boys that the great day of reckoning is nigh upon us.

The Democrats we've yet to bag, sir, the patronage jobs simply won't bag 'em.

They require more convincing, Mr. President.

Do me a favor, will you?


It snagged my eye in the paper this morning that the Governor Curtin is set to declare a winner in the disputed Congressional election for the...

Pennsylvania 16th District.

District. What a joy to be comprehended.

Hop on a train to Philadel, call on the Governor...

Send Latham. Or Schell.

No, he'll do fine. Just polish yourself up first.

The incumbent is claiming he won it. Name of...


That's him. Coffroth.

He's a Democrat. I understand that.

Silly name. A little bit silly.

Tell Governor Curtin it'd be much appreciated if he'd invite the House of Representatives to decide who won.

He's entitled to do that. He'll agree to it.

Then advise Coffroth if he hopes to retain his seat, then he'd better pay a visit to Thaddeus Stevens.

Well, pity poor Coffroth.

It opens!

You are Canfrey?

Coffroth, Mr. Stevens. Alexander Coffroth.

Are we representatives of the same state?

Yes, sir. We sit only three desks apart.

I haven't noticed you.

I'm a Republican and you, Coughdrop, are a Democrat?

Well... I... that is to say...

The modern travesty of Thomas Jefferson's political organization to which you've attached yourself like a barnacle has the effrontery to call itself the Democratic Party.

You are a Democrat. What's the matter with you?

Are you wicked?

Well, I felt... Never mind.

Coffsnot, you were ignominiously trounced at the hustings in November's election by your worthy challenger, a Republican.

No, sir, I was not trounced.

He wants to steal my seat. I didn't lose the election.

What difference does it make if you lost or not?

The governor of our state is... A Democrat?

No, he's, he's a...


...-pub-...-lic-... ...-pub-...-lic-...

...-can. ...-can. Republican.

I know what he is. This is a rhetorical exercise.

And Congress is controlled by what party? Yours?

Your party was beaten.

Your challenger's party now controls the House and hence the House Committee on Elections, so you have been beaten.

You shall shortly be sent home in disgrace. Unless...

I know what I must do, sir.

I will immediately become a Republican and vote yes...


Coffroth will vote yes, but Coffroth will remain a Democrat until after he does so.

Why wait to switch? I'm happy to...

We want to show the amendment has bipartisan support, you idiot. Early in the next Congress, when I tell you to do so, you will switch parties.

Now congratulations on your victory, and get out.

Now, give me the names of whoever else you've been hunting.


George Yeaman.

Yes. Yeaman.

Among others.

But Yeaman, that'd count. Yeah.


I got it.


I can't vote for the amendment, Mr. Lincoln.

I saw a barge once, Mr. Yeaman, filled with colored men in chains heading down the Mississippi to the New Orleans slave markets.

It sickened me.

And more than that, it brought a shadow down.

A pall around my eyes.

Slavery troubled me as long as I can remember in a way it never troubled my father, though he hated it, in his own fashion.

He knew no smallholding dirt farmer could compete with slave plantations so he took us out from Kentucky to get away from 'em.

He wanted Indiana kept free.

He wasn't a kind man but there was a rough, moral urge for fairness, for freedom in him.

I learnt that from him, I suppose.

If little else from him.

We didn't care for one another, Mr. Yeaman.

Well, I'm sorry to hear that.

Loving kindness, that most ordinary thing, came to me from other sources. I'm grateful for that.

Well, I hate it, too, sir.

Slavery, but...

But we're entirely unready for emancipation.

And there's too many questions...

We're unready for peace, too, ain't we?

Yeah, when it comes, it'll present us with conundrums and dangers greater than any we faced during the war, bloody as it's been.

We'll have to extemporize and experiment with what it is, when it is.

I read your speech, George.

Negroes and the vote, that's a puzzle.

No, no. But, but, but Negroes can't vote, Mr. Lincoln.

You're not suggesting we enfranchise colored people?

I'm asking only that you disenthrall yourself from the slave powers.

I'll let you know when there's an offer on my desk for surrender.

There's none before us now.

What's before us now, that's the vote on the 13th Amendment.

And it's going to be so very close.

You see what you can do.

I can't make sense of it.

What he died for.

Mr. Lincoln, I hate them all.

I do. All black people.

I am a prejudiced man.

Well, I'd change that in you if I could, but that's not why I come.

I might be wrong, Mr. Hutton, but I expect colored people most likely be free.

And when that's so, it's simple truth that your brother's bravery and his death helped make it so.

Only you can decide whether that's sense enough for you or not.

My deepest sympathies to your family.

We've managed our members to a fare-thee-well.

You've had no defections from the Republican right to trouble you.

Whereas as to what you promised, where the hell are the commissioners?

Oh, my God. It's true.

You... You lied to me.

Mr. Lincoln, you evaded my request for a denial that there is a Confederate peace offer, because there is one!

We are absolutely guaranteed to lose the whole thing.

We don't need a goddamn abolition amendment!

Leave the Constitution alone!

What if the peace commissioners appear today, or worse...

I can't listen to this anymore.

I can't accomplish a goddamn thing of any human meaning or worth until we cure ourselves of slavery and end this pestilential war!

And whether any of you or anyone else knows it, I know I need this!

This amendment is that cure!

We are stepped out upon the world stage now!


With the fate of human dignity in our hands!

Blood's been spilt to afford us this moment!

Now! Now! Now!

And you grousle and heckle and dodge about like pettifogging Tammany Hall hucksters!

See what is before you.

See the here and now, that's the hardest thing, the only thing that accounts.

Abolishing slavery by constitutional provision settles the fate for all coming time not only of the millions now in bondage

but of unborn millions to come.

Two votes stand in its way. These votes must be procured.

We need two yeses, three abstentions, or four yeses and one more abstention, and the amendment will pass.

You got a night, and a day, and a night, and several perfectly good hours.

Now get the hell out of here and get 'em.

Yes. But how?

Buzzards' guts, man.

I am the President of the United States of America clothed in immense power.

You will procure me these votes.

We welcome you, ladies and gentlemen,

first in the history of this people's chamber, to your House.

Mr. Ashley, the floor is yours.

On the matter of the joint resolution before us, presenting a 13th Amendment to our National Constitution, which was passed last year by the Senate and which has been debated now by this estimable body for the past several weeks, today we will vote.

By mutual agreement, we shall hear brief, final statements, beginning with the honorable George Pendleton of Ohio.

I have just received 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.

Is it true, sir?

Are there Confederate commissioners in the capital?

I have no idea where they are or if they've arrived.

They'll arrive.

I appeal to my fellow Democrats, to all Republican representatives who give a fig for peace, postpone this vote!

Until we have answers from the President himself!

Postpone the vote!

Postpone the vote!

Postpone the vote! Postpone the vote!

Postpone the vote!

Postpone the vote! Gentlemen!

Postpone the vote!

Postpone the vote! Postpone the vote!

I have made a motion!

Does anyone care to second my motion?


The conservative faction of border and western Republicans cannot approve this amendment, about which we harbor grave doubts, if a peace offer is being held hostage to its success.

Joining together with our Democratic colleagues, I second the motion to postpone.

He must deny peace commissioners are in the city.

Quick, man. Quick.

This is precisely what Mr. Wood wishes me to respond to?

Word for word, this is precisely the assurance that he demands of me?

Yes, sir.

Give this to Mr. Ashley.

I feel I have to say, Mr. Lincoln, that...

Could you please just step outside?

You want to have a chat now, with the whole of the House of Representatives waiting on this?

Making false representation to Congress, is...

It's... It's impeachable, but I've made no such false representation.

But there are.

There is a delegation from Richmond.

Give me the note, Johnnie.

Please, deliver that to Mr. Ashley.

From the President.

"So far as I know, there are no"

"peace commissioners in the city"

"nor are there likely to be."

"So far as I know"?

That means nothing.

Are there commissioners from the South, or aren't there?

The President has answered you, sir.

Your peace offer is a fiction.

That is not a denial.

It is a lawyer's dodge!

Mr. Haddam, is your faction satisfied?

The conservative Republican faction is satisfied.

And we thank Mr. Lincoln.

I move to table Mr. Wood's motion.


Mr. Colfax, I order the main question.

A motion has been made to bring the bill for the 13th Amendment to a vote.

Do I hear a second?

I second the motion.

So moved, so ordered.

The Clerk will now...

Quiet, please!

The Clerk will now call the roll for the voting.

We begin with Connecticut.

Mr. Augustus Benjamin, on the matter of this amendment, how say you?


Mr. Arthur Bentleigh.


Mr. John Ellis, how say you?



Missouri next. Mr. Walter Appleton.

I vote no.

Mr. Josiah Burton.

Beanpole Burton is pleased to vote yea!

The State of New Jersey.

Mr. Nehemiah Cleary. No!

Mr. James Martinson.

Mr. Martinson has delegated me to say he is indisposed.

And he abstains.

Mr. Austin J. Roberts.

Also indisposed, also abstaining.

Illinois concluded.

Mr. Harold Hollister. How say you?


Mr. Hutton.

Mr. William Hutton. Cast your vote.

William Hutton, remembering at this moment his beloved brother Frederick votes against the amendment.

Webster Allen votes no.

Webster Allen, Illinois, Democrat, votes no.

Halberd Law, Indiana, Democrat, votes no.

Archibald Moran, yes.

Ambrose Baylor, yes.

Mr. Walter H. Washburn.

Votes no.

And Mr. George Yeaman, how say you?

My vote ties us.

Sir, Mr. Yeaman, I didn't hear your vote.

I said "Aye", Mr. McPherson!




Order in my chamber!

Mr. McPherson, you may proceed.

Mr. Clay R. Hawkins of Ohio.

Goddamn it, I'm voting yes.

I don't care, you shoot me dead!

You shoot me dead! I am voting yes!

Mr. Edwin F. LeClerk.


Oh, to hell with it. Shoot me dead, too! Yes!

I mean...

Abstention. Abstention!

Spineless! No gender.

Mr. Alexander Coffroth.

I vote yes.


James Brooks...


Josiah Grenelle...


Meyer Strauss...


Mr. Joseph Marstern. Nay.

Mr. Chilton A. Elliot. No!

Mr. Daniel G. Stuart. I vote yes.

Mr. Howard Guilfoyle. Yea.

John F. McKenzie. Yea.

Andrew E. Fink. Nay.

Mr. John A. Castle. Yea.

Mr. Hanready. Nay.

And Mr. Rufus Warren? Yea.

The roll call concludes.

The voting is completed. Now...

Mr. Clerk, please call my name.

I want to cast a vote.

I object.

The Speaker doesn't vote.

The Speaker may vote if he so chooses.

It is highly unusual, sir.

This isn't usual, Mr. Pendleton.

This is history.

How does Mr. Schuyler Colfax vote?

Aye, of course.

The final vote.

Eight absent or not voting.

Fifty-six votes against.

One hundred and nineteen votes for.

With a margin of two votes...

We chose great leadership.

We'll rally round the flag, boys We'll rally once again Shouting the battle cry of freedom We will rally from the hillside We'll gather from the plain Shouting the battle cry of freedom The Union forever! Hurrah, boys, hurrah!

Down with the traitor And up with the star Shout, shout the battle cry of Freedom!

Congratulations, Mr. Chairman.

The bill, Mr. McPherson. May I?

The Union forever! Hurrah, boys, hurrah!

That's, that's the official bill.

I'll return it in the morning.

Creased, but unharmed.

Shouting the battle cry of freedom We are springing to the call Of the loyal, true and brave Shouting the battle cry of freedom

And we'll fill our vacant ranks With a million freemen more Shouting the battle cry of freedom The Union forever!

Hurrah, boys, hurrah!

Down with the traitor And up with the star

A gift for you.

The greatest measure of the 19th century, passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America.

I wish you had been present.

I wish I'd been. It was a spectacle.

You can't bring your housekeeper to the House.

I won't give them gossip.

This is enough.

This is...

It's more than enough for now.

Read it to me again, my love.

"Proposed..." And adopted.


"an amendment to"

"the Constitution of the United States."

"Section One."

"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude"

"except as a punishment for crime"

"whereof the party shall have been duly convicted"

"shall exist within the United States"

"or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

Section Two.

"Congress shall have power to enforce this amendment"

"by appropriate legislation."

Let me be blunt.

Will the Southern states resume their former position in the Union speedily enough to enable us to block ratification to this here

13th Amendment?

I'd like peace immediately.

Yes, and?

I'd like your states restored to their practical relations with the Union immediately.

If this could be given to me in writing, as Vice President of the Confederacy, I'd bring that document with celerity, to Jefferson Davis.


And we can discuss reconstruction.

Surrender won't be thought of.

Unless you've assured us, in writing, that we'll be readmitted in time to block this amendment.

This is the arrogant demand of a conqueror.

You'll not be a conquered people, Mr. Hunter.

You will be citizens.

Returned to the laws and the guarantees of rights of the Constitution.

Which now extinguishes slavery.

And with it, our economy.

All our laws will be determined by a Congress of vengeful Yankees.

All our rights will be subject to a Supreme Court benched by bloody Republican radicals.

All our traditions will be obliterated.

We won't know ourselves anymore.

We ain't here to discuss reconstruction.

We have no legal basis for that discussion.

But I don't want to deal falsely.

The Northern states will ratify, most of them.

As I figure it, it remains for two of the Southern states to do the same, even after all are readmitted.

And I've been working on that.

Tennessee and Louisiana.

Arkansas, too, most likely. It'll be ratified.

Slavery, sir... It's done.

If we submit ourselves to law, Alex, even submit to losing freedoms, the freedom to oppress, for instance we may discover other freedoms previously unknown to us.

Had you kept faith with the democratic process, as frustrating as that can be...

Come, sir.

Spare us, at least, these pieties.

Did you defeat us with ballots?

How have you held your Union together?

Through democracy?

How many hundreds of thousands have died during your administration?

Your Union, sir, is bonded in cannon fire and death.

It may be you're right.

But say all we done is show the world that democracy isn't chaos.

That there is a great, invisible strength in a people's union.

Say we've shown that a people can endure awful sacrifice and yet cohere.

Mightn't that save at least the idea of democracy to aspire to?

Eventually to become worthy of?

At all rates, whatever may be proven by blood and sacrifice must have been proved by now.

Shall we stop this bleeding?

Once he surrenders, send his boys back to their homes and their farms, their shops.

Yes, sir.

As we discussed.

Liberality all around, not punishment.

I don't want that.

And their leaders, Jeff and the rest of them, they escape, leave the country while my back's turned, that wouldn't upset me none.

When peace comes, it mustn't just be hangings.

By outward appearance you're 10 years older than you were a year ago.

Some weariness has bit at my bones.

I never seen the like of it before, what I seen today.

Never seen the like of it before.

You always knew that.

What this was going to be.

Intimate and ugly.

You must have needed to see it close when you decided to come down here.

We've made it possible for one another to do terrible things.

We've won the war.

Now you have to lead us out of it.

You have an itch to travel?

I'd like that.

To the West, by rail.


The Holy Land.

Awfully pious for a man who takes his wife out buggy-riding on Good Friday.


Where David and Solomon walked.

I dream of walking in that ancient city.

All anyone will remember of me is I was crazy and I ruined your happiness.

Anyone thinks that doesn't understand, Molly.

When they look at you, at what it cost to live at the heart of this, they'll wonder at it. They'll wonder at you.

They should.

But they should also look at the wretched woman by your side if they want to understand what this was truly like.

For the ordinary person.

For anyone other than you.

You must try to be happier.

We must, both of us.

We've been so miserable for so long.

I did say some colored men...

The intelligent, the educated, and the veterans. I qualified it.

Mr. Stevens is furious.

He wants to know why you qualified it.

No one heard the intelligent or educated part.

All they heard was the first time any president has ever made mention of Negro voting.

Still, I wish I'd mentioned it in a better speech.

Mr. Stevens also wants to know why you didn't make a better speech.

Mrs. Lincoln is waiting in the carriage.

She wants me to remind you of the hour, and that you'll have to pick up Miss Harris and Major Rathbone.

Am I in trouble? No, sir.

Thank you, Mr. Slade.

I suppose it's time to go.

Though I would rather stay.

The President has been shot!

The President has been shot! At Ford's Theater!

No. No!

It's 7:22 in the morning.

Saturday, the 15th of April.

It's all over.

The President is no more.

Now he belongs to the ages.

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war, may speedily pass away.

Yet if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman's 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said, "The judgments of the Lord"

"are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none,

with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace