Lincoln: Great Film But Watch PBS’ “The Abolitionists”

I saw “Lincoln” last weekend.  Daniel Day Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones should win Oscars for “Best Actor” and “Best Supporting Actor” for their roles as Lincoln and Thaddeus Stevens, a Radical Republican leader in the House of Representatives.

While it was a great film which relies on plot rather than action or special effects to hold your interest for over two hours, it is, as it’s title makes clear, all about…well, Lincoln.  But Lincoln was just the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to the history of the effort to end slavery in the United States.

In order to get the 13th amendment passed, Lincoln had to rely on the anti-slavery sentiment in the North.  A sentiment which was cultivated by others.

As the film reveals, passage of the amendment was not a “no brainer.” There were a number of… conservative… elements opposed to the…radical… Republicans’ demand for abolishing slavery.

Rather than appeal to elected representative’s to “do the right thing” (which I believe politicians rarely do in politics), Lincoln had to find other means of persuasion.  The film focuses on those means of persuasion.

As a politician, Lincoln may very well have been the LBJ of his era.  Conversely, LBJ may have been the Lincoln of his era for the way LBJ… persuaded … Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act just short of the 100th anniversary of the 13th amendment.

If you’re interested in “the rest of the story” about the ending of slavery in the U.S., plan to watch the three part documentary “The Abolitionists” on PBS.  The first part premiered on January 8.

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9 responses to “Lincoln: Great Film But Watch PBS’ “The Abolitionists”

  1. I believe this movie was based on the book by historian Doris Kearns-Goodwin called “Team of Rivals”. I haven’t read that book, or seen the movie, but from what I’ve seen, I believe by “persuasion” you mean “arm-twisting” and “threatening” lol. I’ve seen Kearns-Goodwin many times on TV (and heard her on NPR) and she’s both smart and entertaining. Sometimes hard to pull off when your specialty is history 🙂

  2. I haven’t seen Lincoln yet, but I will… eventually. Thanks for the tip about The Abolitionists. I’m going to try to see that as well.

  3. I loved Lincoln, and I think it will do well in the Academy Awards this year.

    LBJ was certainly the LIncoln of his era. I believe that had the Vietnam War not had such a negative impact on his presidency that he would have been held in higher esteem.

    Thanks for the heads up on the documentary. I hope to see it.

  4. The movie was outstanding. First rate! Agree with you on Lewis and Jones. Lewis is a true craftsman unlike most in the business. The Movie focused on just the passage of the 13th amendment and the intricacies of politics. It was a good plan, the book fell short of this kind of impact as its focus was on the entire cabinet and much more of Lincolns Presidency. She attempted more history,, but in doing so fell short of both history and entertainment imho. And I do like Kearns-Goodwin very much. .

  5. I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read any of her books. But from what I gather, she attempts to present the various Presidents in the context of the times they lived in, which seems to me to be a very good strategy. I think that’s often what we miss when reading the history of individuals. Have you read any other books by her, pt, besides “Team of Rivals”? If so, which do you think was best? I understand she’s at work on a biograpy of Teddy Roosevelt, and I think that may be the one I’d most like to read.

  6. Once again, I’m surprised and delighted to see my blog friend HFH (aka, Grant) on another friend’s blog. So I’ll ask you the same question, Grant. Have you read any of Kearns-Goodwin’s books? And if so, which would you recommend?

  7. SC I will also record The Abolitionist it looks like my cup a tea.
    FN lol, I read “Wait Till Next Year” which Doris wrote of her childhood affliction with the Brooklyn Dodgers. It was a wonderful little memoir which captured the beauty of an age that is also Gone With The Wind. I believe that living in Brooklyn in the 40s and 50s was special and Doris is a product of that time and place.

  8. Watched the abolitionist, it was a bit of a disappointment, nothing really new and not very interesting. Guess I am used to the scintillating Ken Burns repertoire.

    • I’ve not seen any of it. Comes on too late (9 PM) for me since I work Wednesdays. But I’ll catch it when the reruns come.

      I’m not too surprised Christoph Waltz won the Golden Globe over Tommy Lee Jones. After all, he’s German and it is the foreign press awards. We’ll see who gets the Oscar…

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