#657 – Dick Bernard: Watching the Spielberg film, Lincoln.

We went to Lincoln this afternoon. It was our second try. Last night was sold out at the local theatre. Today, the theatre was full.
The film, of the last three months of Lincoln’s life, and the passage of the 13th Amendment, is well worth the abundant kudos. It is worth seeing. Here’s one of many reviews, a commentary by Bonnie Blodget in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Of all the American Presidents, I feel I know the most about Lincoln, having visited many of his haunts and memorials over the years, and read a lot about the era.
He is no stranger to me.
At the time of the film, early 1865, he had just turned 56 years of age, really in his youth. A line in the film from one of his cabinet members was that he had aged 10 years in the previous year. The emotional wear of America’s most disastrous Civil War could do that.
Most presidents age pretty quickly, in front of our eyes. They have a difficult job.
We tend to try to simplify major characters of history like Lincoln, and in the process lose track of some of the other realities of their lives. There was plenty of political chicanery involved in Lincoln’s reaching a destination – emanicipation of the slaves. The struggle was hard for a right which most of us now take for granted, and admire.
Politics can be a very nasty business – a contact sport. Lincoln had to play with the best.
(click to enlarge photos)

In the museum at Ford's Theatre in Washington DC, 2006

He served in politics at a time when it was as rough and tumble as any we experience today, and in his day, when the United States had roughly 10% of the our current population, the electorate was exclusively white men. One of the arguments against freeing the slaves was the very real and scary possibility that if Negroes were freed, and given rights as citizens, then women would want the right to vote – one gathers this was a rather horrifying thing to contemplate.
As it happens, the slaves were freed, and for a few short years were actually allowed their freedom, including the right to vote and own property. But in less than 20 years ways around that right were found, and it wasn’t until the 1960s when it became relatively certain that those rights would be relatively permanent, even in the most reluctant southern states.
Women, on the other hand, had a much longer wait for their right to vote. It wasn’t until 1920 that Women’s Suffrage became the law of the land. For probably obvious reason, that right, once granted, was not tampered with.

1910 Postcare to Grandma Busch on the farm in ND. Grandma was 26 at the time. Womens Suffrage was still ten years in the future.

We now live in a new world, now, and for some it is not a very comfortable world.
But winning justice is a slow and torturous process and people like Abe Lincoln and legions of others have brought us far.
Take some time to see Lincoln.
It gives much food for thought, along with a lot of history you may not have learned in school.

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