Lincoln: President Abraham Lincoln's Efforts in Getting the 13th Amendment Passed

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The award winning movie Lincoln is one of the most acclaimed films of the year. It depicts the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, focusing on his efforts in getting the 13th amendment passed. While it shows some of the personal aspects of the president’s life, such as his relationships with his wife and two sons, it focuses on the political battle to secure enough votes to free the African American population. Unfortunately, many historians have pointed out that that aspect of the movie may very well be completely inaccurate.

The majority of the film focused on Lincoln pushing members of the house to vote for the passage of the amendment through personal favors and promises as well as negotiations and extensive convincing. Initially, I was a bit surprised that such a highly held president could have resorted to such tactics to get what he wanted before remembering the game of politics. I was however more surprised to learn that all of this effort on Lincoln’s part may never have happened. According to Harvard University’s Professor David H. Donald, who has done extensive research on Lincoln and his life, there is no evidence that any members of Congress changed their votes on the Thirteenth Amendment because of Lincoln’s actions. In fact, some New Jersey Democrats could have been persuaded to vote for the bill if Lincoln could persuade Senator Charles Sumner to drop a bill to regulate the Camden and Amboy New Jersey railroad, but Lincoln chose not to intervene.

Furthermore, Lincoln had stated that he did not support equality for blacks and white, contrary to popular belief. In the first Lincoln-Douglas Debate in Ottawa, Illinois on September 18, 1858, Lincoln stated, "I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with...
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