Last modified on 27 October 2014, at 14:50

Lincoln (2012 film)

Do you think we choose the times into which we are born? Or do we fit the times we are born into?
The greatest measure of the 19th century was passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America.

Lincoln is a 2012 historical film about the the final four months of Lincoln's life, focusing on the President's efforts in January 1865 to have the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (which abolished slavery) passed by the United States House of Representatives, while the American Civil War nears its end.

Directed by Steven Spielberg. Written by Tony Kushner, based in part on the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Abraham LincolnEdit

  • 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.
  • [to Cabinet members] As the preacher said; "I could write shorter sermons, but once I start I get too lazy to stop."
  • 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. Til one day he was invited to the townhouse of a great English lord. Dinner was served, 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. 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? And Mr. Allen said it did. The host was astounded. (mocking British accent) "Appropriate? George Washington's likeness in a water closet?" "Yes," said Mr. Allen, "where it will do good service. The whole world knows nothing will make an Englishman shit quicker than the sight of George Washington." I love that story.
  • 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 will always will do. In his book, Euclid says this is "self-evident." You see, there it is, even in that two-thousand year old book of mechanical law: it is a self-evident truth of 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 balance—that's fairness, that's justice.
  • [pounds his hand on a table as his cabinet squabbles] 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're stepped out upon the world stage now, now, with the fate of human dignity in our hands. Blood's been spilled to afford us this moment! Now! Now! Now! And you grouse so and heckle and dodge about like pettifogging Tammany Hall hucksters!
  • Do you think we choose the times into which we are born? Or do we fit the times we are born into?
  • [last lines, from Second Inaugural speech] 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 bondsman'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." 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 lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Thaddeus StevensEdit

  • Trust? Oh. I'm sorry, I was under the misapprehension your chosen profession was politics. I never trusted the President, never trusted anyone, but hasn't he surprised you?
  • 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?
  • 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!
  • The greatest measure of the 19th century was passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America.

Mary Todd LincolnEdit

  • [to Abraham Lincoln] No one is loved as much as you by the people. Don't waste that power on an amendment bill that's sure of defeat.
  • [to Abraham 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 slavery will end this war. And since you're sending my son into the war, woe to you if you fail to pass the amendment.

DialogueEdit

Abraham Lincoln: What will you do after the war, Corporal Clark?
Cpl. Ira Clark: Work, sir. Perhaps you'll hire me.
Abraham Lincoln: Perhaps I will.
Cpl. Ira Clark: But you should know, sir, that I get sick at the smell of boot-black, and I cannot cut hair.
Abraham Lincoln: I've yet to find a man who could cut mine so's it'd make any difference.
Pvt. Harold Green: You've got springy hair for a white man.
Abraham Lincoln: (chuckling) I do. My last barber hanged himself. (Green laughs) And the one before that. Left me his scissors in his will.

Abraham Lincoln: [describing a dream] It's nighttime. 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 alone. 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 a deliberate pace. I should spare you. I shouldn't tell you my dreams.
Mary Todd Lincoln: I don't want to be spared if you aren't! And you spare me nothing. Perhaps it's the assault on Wilmington Port. You dream about the ship before a battle, usually.
Abraham Lincoln: [rapping lightly on his forehead] How's the coconut?
Mary Todd Lincoln: 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?
Abraham Lincoln: I do.
Mary Todd Lincoln: Stuff! You tell me dreams, that's all, I'm your soothsayer, that's all I am anymore, I'm not to be trusted with — Even if it wasn't a carriage accident, even if it was an attempted assassination.
Abraham Lincoln: It was most likely an—
Mary Todd Lincoln: It was an assassin. Whose intended target was you.
Abraham Lincoln: How's the plans for the big shindy progressing?
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—
Mary Todd Lincoln: I know... I know what it's about. The ship, it isn't 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 inauguration.
Abraham Lincoln: [standing] Don't spend too much money on the flubdubs.
Mary Todd Lincoln: No one's loved as much as you, no one's ever been loved so much, by the people. Don't, don't waste that power on an amendment bill that's sure of defeat. [she turns away, walking to an open window.] Did you remember Robert's coming home for the reception? [Lincoln nods] I knew you'd forget. That's the ship you're sailing on. The Thirteenth Amendment. You needn't tell me I'm right. I know I am.

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? We can find twenty votes.
William Seward: Twenty House Democrats who will vote to abolish slavery? In my opinion...
Abraham Lincoln: To which I always listen.
William Seward: Or pretend to.
Abraham Lincoln: With all three of my ears.
William Seward: We'll win the war, sir. 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. 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.

Abraham Lincoln: Thunder forth, God of War.
Edwin Stanton: We'll commence our assault on Wilmington from the sea... Why is is this burned? 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 enire cabinet's waiting to hear what it portends.
Gideon Welles: A bombardment. From the largest fleet the Navy's ever assembled.
Abraham Lincoln: Old Neptune, shake thy hoary locks.
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.
Abraham Lincoln: Wilmington's their last open seaport. Therefore...
Edwin Stanton: Wilmington falls, Richmond falls after.
William Seward: And the war... is done.
John Usher: Then why, if I may 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 on the House floor for debate—because your eagerness, in what seems an unwarranted intrusion of the Executive into Legislative prerogatives, is compelling it to its... to what's likely to be it's premature demise? 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 will make a meal out of it.
John Usher: When Edward Bates was Attorney General, he felt confident in it enough to allow you to sign—
James Speed: Different lawyers, different opinions. It frees slaves as a military exigent, not in any other—
Abraham Lincoln: I don't recall Bates being any too certain about the legality of my Proclamation, just it wasn't downright criminal. Somewhere's in 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 she grabbed a-hold of a stick of firewood and fractured his skull and he died. In his will he wrote: 'I suspect 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. And 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.
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 rebel's slaves from them as property confiscated in war. That might recommend to suspicion that I agree with the Rebs that their slaves are property in the first place. Of course I don't, never have, I'm glad to see any man free, and if calling a man property, or war contraband, does the trick... Why I caught at the opportunity. Now here's where it gets truly slippery. I use the law allowing for the seizure of property in a war knowing it applies only to the property of governments and citizens of belligerent nations. But the South ain't a nation, that's why I can't negotiate with'em. If in fact the Negroes are property according to law, have I the right to take the rebels' property from 'em, if I insist they're rebels only, and not citizens of a belligerent country? And slipperier still: I maintain it ain't our actual Southern states in rebellion but only the rebels living in those states, the laws of which states remain in force. The laws of which states remain in force. That means, that since it's states' laws that determine whether Negroes can be sold as slaves, as property - the Federal government doesn't have a say in that, least not yet then Negroes in those states are slaves, hence property, hence my war powers allow me to confiscate'em as such. So I confiscated 'em. But if I'm a respecter of states' laws, how then can I legally free 'em with my Proclamation, as I done, unless I'm cancelling 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, hence forward and forever free." But let's say the courts decide I had no authority to do it. They might well decide that. Say there's no amendment abolishing slavery. Say it's after the war, and I can no longer use my war powers to just ignore the courts' decisions, like I sometimes felt I had to do. Might those people I freed be ordered back into slavery? That's why I'd like to get the Thirteenth Amendment through the House, and on its way to ratification by the states, wrap the whole slavery thing up, forever and aye. As soon as I'm able. Now. End of this month. And I'd like you to stand behind me. Like my cabinet's most always done. As the preacher once said, I could write shorter sermons but once I start I get too lazy to stop.
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 a half before my second election. I felt I was within my power to do it; however I felt that I might be wrong to do it; I knew the people would tell me. I gave 'em a year and a half to think about it. And they re-elected me. And come February the first, I intend to sign the Thirteenth Amendment.

William Seward: Why wasn't I consulted?! I'm Secretary of State! You, you, you informally send a reactionary dotard, to— What will happen, when these peace commissioners arrive?
Abraham Lincoln: We'll hear 'em out.
William Seward: Oh, splendid! And next the Democrats will invite them up to hearings on the Hill, and the newspapers — well, 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, naught 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 slaves!
Abraham Lincoln: What hope for any Democratic votes, William, 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, William.
William Seward: Yes, I suppose it is — Actually, I have no idea what you mean by that.
Abraham Lincoln: Get me thirteen votes. [in thick Kentucky accent] Them fellers from Richmond ain't here yet.

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: I can't ensure a single damn thing if you spare the whole House 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 Negro vote and much more. Congress shall mandate the seizure of every foot of rebel land and every dollar of their property. We'll use their confiscated wealth to establish hundreds of thousands of free Negro farmers, and at their side soldiers armed to occupy and transform the heritage of traitors. We'll build up a land down there of free men and free women and free children and freedom. The nation needs to know that we have such plans.
Abraham Lincoln: That's the untempered version of reconstruction. It's not... It's not 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—
Thaddeus Stevens: Ah, shit on the people and what they want and what they're ready for! I don't give a goddamn about the people and what they want! This is the face of someone who has fought long and hard for the good of the people without caring much for any of 'em. And I look a lot worse without the wig. The people elected me! To represent them! To lead them! And I lead! You ought to try it.
Abraham Lincoln: I admire your zeal, Mr. Stevens, and I have tried to profit from the example of it. But if I'd listened to you, I'd have declared every slave free the minute the first shell struck Fort Sumter; then the border states would've gone over to the Confederacy, the war would've been lost and the Union along with it, and instead of abolishing slavery, as we hope to do in two weeks, we'd be watching helpless as infants as it spread from the American South into South America.
Thaddeus Stevens: Oh, how you have longed to say that to me. You claim you trust them—but you know what the people are. You know that the inner compass that should direct the soul toward justice has ossified in white men and women, North and South, unto utter uselessness through tolerating the evil of slavery. White people cannot bear the thought of sharing this country's infinite abundance with Negroes.
Abraham Lincoln: A compass, I learnt when I was surveying, it'll point you True North from where you are standing, but it's got no advice about the swamps and deserts and chasms 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?

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.
Thomas Thompson Eckert: It's the largest fort they have, sir.
Gideon Welles: Twenty-two big seacoast guns on each rampart...
Thomas Thompson Eckert: They've been reinforcing it for the last two years...
Edwin Stanton: They've taken 17,000 shells since yesterday!
Thomas Thompson Eckert: They said...
Gideon Welles: The commander is an old goat.
Edwin Stanton: I want to hear that Fort Fisher is 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...
Abraham Lincoln: Come on out, you old rat! [the room goes silent] 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...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! [Stanton storms out, shouting to himself] I need the B&O sideyard schedules for Alexandria! I asked for them this morning! I don't care how long it takes!
Abraham Lincoln: 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, beverages imbibed, time passed as happens and Mr. Allen found he needed the privy. He was grateful to be directed to this. [pours himself another cup of coffee] Relieved, you might say. [slight laughter] 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? And Mr. Allen said it did. The host was astounded. [mocking British accent] "Appropriate? George Washington's likeness in a water closet?" "Yes," said Mr. Allen, "where it will do good service. The whole world knows nothing will make an Englishman shit quicker than the sight of George Washington." [louder laughter] I love that story.

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...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...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...
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.
Abraham Lincoln: [pauses] 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] 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 Todd Lincoln: You think I'm ignorant of what you're up to because of this 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.
Abraham Lincoln: Seward doesn't want me leaving big muddy footprints all over town.
Mary Todd Lincoln: 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.

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? Is that 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?
Fernando Wood: You have always insisted, Mr. Stevens, that Negroes are the same as white men are.
Thaddeus Stevens: The true purpose of the amendment... I don't hold with equality in all things, only with equality before the law and nothing more.
Fernando Wood: That's not true! You believe that Negroes 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.
George Pendleton: After the decades fervent advocacy on behalf of the colored race—
James Ashley: He's answered your questions! This amendment has naught to do with race equality!
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 before in all things, only with equality before the law and nothing more.
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 gibbeted 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.

Preston Blair: We've managed our members to a fare-thee-well, you've had no defections from the Republican right to trouble you, whereas to what you promised— where the hell are the commissioners?!
James Ashley: Oh 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, 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 worse, on the morning—
Montgomery Blair: We don't need a goddamned abolition amendment! Leave the Constitution alone! State by state you can extirpate—
Abraham Lincoln: [pounds his hand on the table] 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're stepped out upon the world stage now, now, with the fate of human dignity in our hands. Blood's been spilled to afford us this moment! Now! Now! Now! And you grouse so and heckle and dodge about like pettifogging Tammany Hall hucksters! See what is before you! see the here band now! That's the hardest thing, the only thing that counts! 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.
William Seward: We need two yeses. Three abstentions. Four yeses and one more abstention and the amendment will pass.
Abraham Lincoln: You've got a night and a day and a night and several perfectly good hours! Now get the hell out of here and get them!
James Ashley: Yes. But how?
Abraham Lincoln: Buzzard's guts, man. I am the President of the United States of America, clothed in immense power! You will procure me these votes.

Edward McPherson: Roll call concludes. Voting is completed. Now—
Schuyler Colfax: Mr. Clerk? Please call my name. I want to cast a vote.
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.
Edward McPherson: How does Mr. Schuyler Colfax vote?
Schuyler Colfax: Aye, of course.

Thaddeus Stevens: I wish you'd been present.
Lydia Hamilton Smith: I wish I'd been.
Thaddeus Stevens: It was a spectacle.
Lydia Hamilton 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.
Thaddeus Stevens: Read it to me again, my love.
Lydia Hamilton Smith: Proposed.
Thaddeus Stevens: And adopted.
Lydia Hamilton Smith: Adopted. An amendment to the Constituion 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.
Thaddeus Stevens: Section two.
Lydia Hamilton Smith: Congress shall have power to enforce this amendment by appropriate legislation.

Alexander Stephens: Let me be blunt. Will the Southern states resume their former position in the Union speedily enough to enable us to to enable us to block ratification of this here 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 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.
Robert Hunter: This is the arrogant demand of a conqueror for a humiliating, abject—
William Seward: You'll not be 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 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.
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 will 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: [grudgingly nodding] Tennessee and Louisiana.
Abraham Lincoln: Arkansas, too, most likely. It'll be ratified. Slavery, sir, it's done. [Hunter silently stands and leaves the room] 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—
John Campbell: Come, sir, spare us at least these pieties. Did you defeat us with ballots?
Alexander Stephens: 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.
Abraham Lincoln: It may be you're right. But say all we done is show the world that democracy isn't chaos, that there isn't a greater 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've been proven by now. Shall we stop this bleeding?

Abraham Lincoln: [discussing the terms of Lee's surrender with Grant] Once he surrenders, send his boys back to their homes and 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 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.
Ulysses S. Grant: [silently observing Lincoln for a moment] By outward appearance, you're ten years older than you were a year ago.
Abraham Lincoln: Hm. [nods] Some weariness has bit at my bones. I never seen the like of it before, what I seen today. [almost to himself] 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.
Abraham Lincoln: Hm. [stands, grasps Grant's outstretched hand with both of his own] We've made it possible for one another to do terrible things.
Ulysses S. Grant: We've won the war. Now you have to lead us out of it.

Mary Todd Lincoln: You've an itch to travel?
Abraham Lincoln: I'd like that. To the West by rail.
Mary Todd Lincoln: Overseas.
Abraham Lincoln: The Holy Land.
Mary Todd Lincoln: [laughs] 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, of they want to understand what this was truly like. For an ordinary person. For anyone other than you.
Abraham Lincoln: We must try to be happier. We must. Both of us. We've been miserable for so long.

(at Lincoln's deathbed)
Doctor: The President is no more.
Edwin Stanton: Now he belongs to the ages.

CastEdit

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