Saturday, November 24, 2012

Did Hollywood's Steven Spielberg Falsify U.S. History In His `Lincoln' Movie?

Besides ignoring the historical role that African-American abolitionist activists like Frederick Douglass played in pressuring the Republican Lincoln Administration and the U.S. Congress to finally prohibit legalized slavery in the United States in 1865, the version of U.S. Civil War history presented in Hollywood Director Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” movie seems to ignore some of the historical information about Abraham Lincoln's political views, the 13th Amendment and U.S. Cvil War history that readers can find in books like W.E. Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880. For example, according to Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction book:

“In January, 1865, [Confederate] General [Robert E.] Lee sent his celebrated statement to Andrew Hunter:

“`We should not expect slaves to fight for prospective freedom when they can secure it at once by going to the enemy, in whose service they will incur no greater risk than in ours. The reasons that induce me to recommend the employment of Negro troops at all render the effect of the measures I have suggested upon slavery immaterial, and in my opinion the best means of securing the efficiency and fidelity of this auxiliary force would be to accompany the measure with a well-digested plan of gradual and general emancipation. As that will be the result of the continuance of the war, and will certainly occur if the enemy succeeds, it seems to me most advisable to do it at once, and thereby obtain all the benefits that will accrue to our cause.’…

“As late as April, 1865, President Lincoln said to General Butler:

“`But what shall we do with the Negroes after they are free?...I can hardly believe that the South and North can live in peace unless we get rid of the Negroes. Certainly they cannot, if we don’t get rid of the Negroes whom we have armed and disciplined and who have fought with us, to the amount, I believe, of some 150,000 men. I believe that it would be better to export them all to some fertile country with a good climate, which they could have to themselves. You have been a staunch friend of the race from the time you first advised me to enlist them at New Orleans. You have had a great deal of experience in moving bodies of men by water—your movement up the James was a magnificent one. Now we shall have no use for our very large navy. What then are our difficulties in sending the blacks away?.. I wish you would examine the question and give me your views upon it and go into the figures as you did before in some degree so as to show whether the Negroes can be exported.’ …

“…December 14, 1863, Ashley of Ohio had introduced into the House an amendment prohibiting slavery, and Wilson of Iowa introduced a similar amendment. Both were referred, but not discussed until five months after their introduction. Four other similar amendments were introduced in the House during the season.

“In the Senate, January 11, 1864, Henderson of Missouri introduced an amendment to abolish slavery, which was referred. A few days later, Charles Sumner submitted a joint resolution against slavery. The committee preferred Henderson’s resolution. The Border State men were especially opposed and Garrett Davis of Kentucky made long and fiery speeches and offered eight amendments. Senator Powell of Kentucky also offered various amendments.

“A proposed Thirteenth Amendment finally passed the Senate on April 8…by a vote of 36-6. It was considered in the House the last day of May. On June 15, it was approved by a vote of 95-66, but this was less than the necessary two-thirds majority.

“Meantime, Lincoln had been reelected…Maryland had abolished slavery, and there was a movement for abolition throughout the Border States. At the second session of the 38th Congress, the President urged the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. On January 31, 1865, Ashley called the proposed Thirteenth Amendment for reconsideration. Eleven Democrats deserted their leader and enabled the resolution to pass, on January 31, 1865.

“Blaine said: `When the announcement was made, the Speaker became powerless to preserve order. The members upon the Republican side sprang upon their seats cheering, shouting, and waving hands, hats, and canes, while the spectators upon the floor and in the galleries joined heartily in the demonstrations. Upon the restoration of order, Mr. Ingersoll of Illinois rose and said, “Mr. Speaker, in honor of this immortal and sublime event, I move that this House do now adjourn.” This amendment was signed by the President and submitted to the states. On December 18, 1865, it was declared adopted by the Secretary of State…”

  And according to Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States book:

“…It was only as the war grew more bitter, the casualties mounted, desperation to win heightened, and the criticism of the abolitionists threatened to unravel the tattered coalition behind Lincoln that he began to act against slavery…Emancipation petitions poured into Congress in 1861 and 1862…By the summer of 1864, 400,000 signatures asking legislation to end slavery had been gathered and sent to Congress, something unprecedented in the history of the country. That April, the Senate had adopted the Thirteenth Amendment, declaring an end to slavery and in January 1865, the House of Representatives followed…

“The Confederacy was desperate in the latter part of the war, and some of its leaders suggested the slaves, more and more an obstacle to their cause, be enlisted, used, and freed…By early 1865, the pressure had mounted, and in March President Davis of the Confederacy signed a `Negro Soldier Law’ authorizing the enlistment of slaves as soldiers, to be freed by consent of their owners and their state governments. But before it had any significant effect, the war was over…”

  In his Legends, Lies: Cherished Myths of American History book, Richard Shenkman also asserted that “Just a month before the collapse of his government Jefferson Davis authorized one of his diplomats in Europe to inform Britain and France that the Confederacy was willing to emancipate the South’s slaves in exchange for official recognition as an independent country.”

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