When I was a young girl, a simple trip to our nation’s Capital turned me into a closet history buff. It all started with a visit to Ford’s Theater and the small residence across the street where President Lincoln spent his final moments. I have photographs of the entire experience.
As a girl, maybe eight at the time, I struggled to understand why any person would want to kill another, let alone kill a president. It just seemed extreme and wrong.
As I grew, and learned through social studies and American history classes, Lincoln became one of my favorite presidents because of his devotion to our country as well as freeing slaves. Slavery is such a spot of shame on our country’s history.
When I started to see previews for the movie Lincoln, I knew I would be in line to see it the first weekend it was out. I don’t go to the movies often, and if I can make an embarrassing admission, the last movie I saw in theaters was Magic Mike. But I dragged along my best girlfriend and we packed into the crowded theater with only those horrid up front-break your neck seats and hunkered down with our goodies for the two hour and ten minute film.
If you aren’t a history buff, believe me, it will not keep your attention for the duration of the film. I am sure my friend was bored an hour into it. But for me it was like a treat. I was drawn in and couldn’t help but notice such stark differences in the Republican Party of Lincoln’s time, and of course what we consider the same party of today. To me, the only similarity I can see is the name. Everything else was completely different.
In the plot of the movie, the Civil War is raging, and slowly coming to an end despite desperate attempts to come to peace. But despite that being the largest memory most of us will associate with Lincoln, the bulk of the movie revolves around abolishing slavery, and essentially freeing slaves.
What most people don’t realize looking back, the motivation for the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 wasn’t just to free the slaves. Lincoln’s biggest worry was after the war concluded, judges would rule that slaves would need to return to their previous owners. Those who had fought in wars would be returned like simple possessions instead of freedom and happiness like all human beings should be entitled to.
The Republican president was pushing strongly for the 13th Amendment to be passed. But without a number of votes from the Democratic party, it would be unable to pass, and slavery would continue at the wars end.
We all know that the 13th Amendment passed, simply by history. We know that slavery was abolished, although so many African Americans were denied basic rights for a disgustingly long time. Still today we see horrible instances with race-fueled hate in our country and it simply makes my heart ache, and lights a fire within me.
But what we don’t know or remember much today was how many people were against the abolition of slavery. The debates, the bribes, the treats that took place surrounding the vote. And you know who didn’t want the vote to pass? The Democrats. The party today who continues to protect and stand up for those who are the minority, no matter what your color or background.
I couldn’t help but be mad at the thoughts and statements made repeatedly about treating slaves as if they are equals. At one point, during a heated debate on the house floor, a Democratic representative said with an extremely snarky tone, “First the blacks get the right to vote, and next the women will want the same!”
At that moment I leaned over to my best friend and said, “Oh hell no! I could have never lived during this time period!”
Then the women will want the same?
The right to vote!?
I guess overall, the movie was eye opening for me. I never knew the stark difference in the Republican Party of then, and what we know as the Republican Party of today. I think more people who are serving our country in a political capacity today should take the time to learn about the founding fathers of our country. Maybe a good history lesson will give them a good kick in the pants and get this country running in the right direction!