Abraham Lincoln: It was right after the revolution, right after peace had been concluded. And Ethan Allen went to London to help our new country conduct its business with the king. The English sneered at how rough we are and rude and simple-minded and on like that, everywhere he went. 'Til one day he was invited to the townhouse of a great English lord. Dinner was served, beverages imbibed, time passed as happens and Mr. Allen found he needed the privy. He was grateful to be directed to this. Relieved, you might say. Mr. Allen discovered on entering the water closet that the only decoration therein was a portrait of George Washington. Ethan Allen done what he came to do and returned to the drawing room. His host and the others were disappointed when he didn't mention Washington's portrait. And finally his lordship couldn't resist and asked Mr. Allen had he noticed it, the picture of Washington. He said he had. Well, what did he think of its placement? Did it seem appropriately located to Mr. Allen? And Mr. Allen said it did. The host was astounded.
Abraham Lincoln: "Appropriate? George Washington's likeness in a water closet?"
Abraham Lincoln: "Yes," said Mr. Allen, "where it will do good service. The world knows nothing will make an Englishman shit quicker than the sight of George Washington."
[the whole room laughs]
Abraham Lincoln: I love that story.
Abraham Lincoln: I could write shorter sermons but when I get started I'm too lazy to stop.
Thaddeus Stevens: How can I hold that all men are created equal when here before me stands, stinking, the moral carcass of the gentleman from Ohio? Proof that some men ARE inferior, endowed by their maker with dim wits, impermeable to reason, with cold, pallid slime in their veins instead of hot, red blood! YOU are more reptile than man, George, so low and flat that the foot of man is incapable of crushing you!
George Pendleton: How dare you!
Thaddeus Stevens: Yet even YOU, Pendleton - who should have been gibbetted for treason long before today - even worthless, unworthy you ought to be treated equally before the law! And so again, sir, and again and again and again, I say, I do not hold with equality in all things, only with equality before the law!
Thaddeus Stevens: Trust? Gentlemen, you seem to have forgotten that our chosen career is politics.
Abraham Lincoln: Back when I rode the legal circuit in Illinois, I defended a woman from Metmora named Melissa Goings, 77 years-old. They said she murdered her husband, he was 83. He was choking her and she grabbed a-hold of a stick of firewood and fractured his skull and he died. In his will he wrote: 'I suspect she has killed me. If I get over it, I will have revenge.' No one was keen to see her convicted, he was that kind of husband. I asked the prosecuting attorney if I might have a short conference with my client. And she and I went into a room in the courthouse, but I alone emerged. The window in the room was found to be wide open. It was believed the old lady may have climbed out of it. I told the bailiff right before. I left her in the room she asked me where she could get a good drink of water, and I told her Tennessee. Mrs. Goings was seen no more in Metamora. Enough justice had been done; they even forgave the bondsman her bail.
John Usher: I'm afraid I don't see...
Abraham Lincoln: I decided that the Constitution gives me war powers, but no one knows just exactly what those powers are. Some say they don't exist. I don't know. I decided I needed them to exist to uphold my oath to protect the Constitution, which I decided meant that I could take the rebel's slaves from them as property confiscated in war. That might recommend to suspicion that I agree with the rebs that their slaves are property in the first place. Of course I don't, never have, I'm glad to see any man free, and if calling a man property, or war contraband, does the trick... Why I caught at the opportunity. Now here's where it gets truly slippery. I use the law allowing for the seizure of property in a war knowing it applies only to the property of governments and citizens of belligerent nations. But the South ain't a nation, that's why I can't negotiate with'em. If in fact the Negroes are property according to law, have I the right to take the rebels' property from 'em, if I insist they're rebels only, and not citizens of a belligerent country? And slipperier still: I maintain it ain't our actual Southern states in rebellion but only the rebels living in those states, the laws of which states remain in force. The laws of which states remain in force. That means, that since it's states' laws that determine whether Negroes can be sold as slaves, as property - the Federal government doesn't have a say in that, least not yet then Negroes in those states are slaves, hence property, hence my war powers allow me to confiscate'em as such. So I confiscated 'em. But if I'm a respecter of states' laws, how then can I legally free'em with my Proclamation, as I done, unless I'm cancelling states' laws? I felt the war demanded it; my oath demanded it; I felt right with myself; and I hoped it was legal to do it, I'm hoping still. Two years ago I proclaimed these people emancipated - "then, hence forward and forever free."But let's say the courts decide I had no authority to do it. They might well decide that. Say there's no amendment abolishing slavery. Say it's after the war, and I can no longer use my war powers to just ignore the courts' decisions, like I sometimes felt I had to do. Might those people I freed be ordered back into slavery? That's why I'd like to get the Thirteenth Amendment through the House, and on its way to ratification by the states, wrap the whole slavery thing up, forever and aye. As soon as I'm able. Now. End of this month. And I'd like you to stand behind me. Like my cabinet's most always done.
Abraham Lincoln: Euclid's first common notion is this: Things which are equal to the same things are equal to each other. That's a rule of mathematical reasoning and its true because it works - has done and always will do. In his book Euclid says this is self evident. You see there it is even in that 2000 year old book of mechanical law it is the self evident truth that things which are equal to the same things are equal to each other.
Abraham Lincoln: [pounds his hand on a table as his cabinet squabbles] I can't listen to this anymore. I can't accomplish a goddamn thing of any worth until we cure ourselves of slavery and end this pestilential war! I wonder if any of you or anyone else knows it. I know! I need this! This amendment is that cure! We've stepped out upon the world stage now. Now! With the fate of human dignity in our hands. Blood's been spilled to afford us this moment now! Now! Now! And you grouse so and heckle and dodge about like pettifogging Tammany Hall hucksters!
Thaddeus Stevens: The greatest measure of the Nineteenth Century. Passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America.
Thaddeus Stevens: The people elected me to represent them, to lead them, and I lead. You ought to try it.
Abraham Lincoln: I admire your zeal, Mr. Stevens, and I have tried to profit from the example of it. But if I'd listened to you, I'd have declared every slave free the minute the first shell struck Fort Sumter. Then the border states would've gone over to the Confederacy, the war would've been lost and the Union along with it, and instead of abolishing slavery, as we hope to do in two weeks, we'd be watching helpless as infants as it spread from the American South into South America.
Thaddeus Stevens: Oh, how you have longed to say that to me. You claim you trust them, but you know what the people are. You know that the inner compass that should direct the soul toward justice has ossified in white men and women, North and South, unto utter uselessness through tolerating the evil of slavery. White people cannot bear the thought of sharing this country's infinite abundance with Negroes.
Abraham Lincoln: A compass, I learned when I was surveying, it'll... it'll point you true north from where you're standing, but it's got no advice about the swamps, deserts and chasms that you'll encounter along the way. If in pursuit of your destination, you plunge ahead heedless of obstacles, and achieve nothing more than to sink in a swamp... what's the use of knowing true north?
Thaddeus Stevens: A point of order, Mr. Speaker, if you please. When will Mr. Wood conclude his interminable gabble? Some of us breathe oxygen, and we find the mephitic fumes of his oratory a lethal challenge to our pulmonary capabilities!
[laughter and applause from Republicans]
Clerk - Edward McPherson: And Mr. George Yeaman, how say you?
George Yeaman: [Muttering] My vote ties us.
Clerk - Edward McPherson: Sorry Mr. Yeaman, I didn't hear your vote.
George Yeaman: I said aye, Mr. McPherson. AYYYYYYEEEEEE!
Abraham Lincoln: Do you think we choose the times into which we are born? Or do we fit the times we are born into?
Samuel Beckwith: Well, I don't know about myself. You may be.
Abraham Lincoln: I must make my decision, Bob must make his, you yours. And bear what we must. Hold and carry what we must. What I carry within me, you must allow me to do it. Alone, as I must. And you alone, Mary, you alone may lighten the burden. Or render it intolerable. As you choose.
[Lincoln's late-night cabinet meeting is interrupted by a call to drive with Mary to Ford's Theater]
Abraham Lincoln: It's time for me to go. But I would rather stay.
Abraham Lincoln: Abolishing slavery by constitutional provisions settles the fate for all coming time. Not only of the millions now in bondage, but of unborn millions to come. Two votes stand in its way. These votes must be procured.
William Seward: We need two yeses. Three abstentions. Four yeses and one more abstention and the amendment will pass.
Abraham Lincoln: You've got a night and a day and a night; several perfectly good hours! Now get the hell out of here and get them!
James Ashley: Yes. But how?
Abraham Lincoln: Buzzard's guts, man! I am the President of the United States of America! Clothed in immense power! You will procure me these votes.
Abraham Lincoln: [quoting a line spoken by Banquo in Shakespeare's "Macbeth"] If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then to me.
Thaddeus Stevens: Slavery is the only insult to the natural law, you fatuous nincompoop.
Clerk - Edward McPherson: Roll call concludes. Voting is completed. Now...
Schuyler Colfax: Mr. clerk? Please call my name. I want to cast a vote.
George Pendleton: I object! The Speaker doesn't vote.
Clerk - Edward McPherson: The Speaker may vote if he so chooses.
George Pendleton: It is highly unusual, sir.
Schuyler Colfax: This isn't usual, Mr. Pendleton. This is history.
Corporal Ira Clark: Now that white people have accustomed themselves to seeing negro men with guns fighting on their behalf, and even getting the same pay, in a few years perhaps they can abide the idea of negro lieutenants and captains. In fifty years, maybe a negro colonel. In a hundred years, the vote.
Abraham Lincoln: What will you do after the war, Corporal Clark?
Corporal Ira Clark: Work sir. Perhaps you'll hire me.
Abraham Lincoln: Perhaps I will.
Corporal Ira Clark: But you should know, sir, that I get sick at the smell of bootblack, and I cannot cut hair.
Abraham Lincoln: [grins] I've yet to find a man could make a difference with mine.
Private Harold Green: You got springy hair for a white man.
Abraham Lincoln: I do. My last barber hanged himself. And the one before that. Left me his scissors in his will.
Abraham Lincoln: [to Ulysses S. Grant] Each of us has made it possible for the other to do terrible things.
[last lines, from Second Inaugural speech]
Abraham Lincoln: Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Ulysses S. Grant: [to Lincoln] By outward appearance, you're 10 years older than you were a year ago.
Abraham Lincoln: [greeting a pair of visitors from Jefferson City] I heard tell once of a Jefferson City lawyer who had a parrot that would wake him each morning crying out 'today's the day the world shall end as scripture has foretold'. And one day, the lawyer shot him for the sake of peace and quiet I presume, thus fulfilling, for the bird at least, his prophecy.
[the guests don't laugh]
William Seward: Gentleman, you have a visitor.
W.N. Bilbo: [checking Latham's cards] Goddamn!
W.N. Bilbo: [President Lincoln walks in] Well, I'll be fucked.
Abraham Lincoln: I wouldn't bet against it, Mr... ?
W.N. Bilbo: W.N.Bilbo.
Abraham Lincoln: Yeah, Mr. Bilbo. Gentlemen...
Robert Latham: Sir.
W.N. Bilbo: Why are you here? No offense, but Mr. Seward's banished the very mention of your name, he won't even let us use fifty-cent pieces 'cause they got your face on 'em.
Abraham Lincoln: The Secretary of State here tells me that, uh... you got eleven Democrats in the bag. That's encouraging.
Richard Schell: Oh, you've got no cause to be encouraged. Sir. Uh...
Robert Latham: Are we being... fired?
Abraham Lincoln: [quoting Shakespeare] 'We have heard the chimes of midnight, Master Shallow.' I'm here to alert you boys that the great day of reckoning is nigh upon us.
Robert Lincoln: I have to do this! And I will do it, and I don't need your permission to enlist!
Abraham Lincoln: That same speech has been made by how many sons to how many fathers since this war began? 'I don't need your damn permission, you miserable old goat! I'm gonna enlist anyhow!' What wouldn't those numberless fathers have given to be able to say to their sons, as I say now to mine, I am commander-in-chief, so in point of fact, without my permission, you ain't enlisting in nothing, nowhere young man!
Robert Lincoln: It's mama you're scared of, not me getting killed!
Abraham Lincoln: [Lincoln slaps him, then tries to hug him; Robert pushes him away]
Robert Lincoln: I have to do this. And I will, or I will feel ashamed of myself for the rest of my life. Whether or not you fought is what matters. And not just to other people, but to myself. I won't be you, Pa. I can't do that. But I don't want to be nothing.
Abraham Lincoln: [looks away, quietly to himself] I can't lose you.
Abraham Lincoln: [on General Grant] My trust in him is marrow deep.
Thaddeus Stevens: Lincoln the inveterate dawdler, Lincoln the Southerner, Lincoln the capitulating compromiser, our adversary, and leader of the God forsaken Republican Party, our party... Abraham Lincoln has asked us to work with him to accomplish the death of slavery in America. Retain, even in opposition, your capacity for astonishment.
Ulysses S. Grant: If you want to discuss peace with President Lincoln, consider revisions.
Alexander Stephens: If we're not to discuss a truce between warring nations, what in heaven's name can we discuss?
Ulysses S. Grant: Terms of surrender.
W.N. Bilbo: The kind that hates niggers, hates God for making niggers.
Abraham Lincoln: I couldn't tolerate you grieving so for Willie because I couldn't permit it in myself, though I wanted to, Mary. I wanted to crawl under the earth, into the vault with his coffin. I still do. Every day I do. Don't... talk to me about grief. I must make my decisions, Bob must make his, you yours. And bear what we must, hold and carry what we must. What I carry within me - you must allow me to do it, alone as I must. And you alone, Mary, you alone may lighten this burden, or render it intolerable. As you choose.
Thaddeus Stevens: [responding to a knock at the door] It opens!
Edwin Stanton: [seeing Lincoln begin to address the room as news comes in from Wilmington] You're going to tell one of your stories! I can't stand to hear another one of your stories!
Thaddeus Stevens: I haven't noticed you. I'm a Republican, and you, Coughdrop, are a Democrat?
Abraham Lincoln: When the people disagree, bringing them together requires going slow until they're ready to...
Thaddeus Stevens: Shit on the people and what they want and what they're ready for. I don't give a goddamn about the people and what they want. This is the face of someone who has fought long and hard for the *good* of the people without caring much for any of 'em. And now I look a lot worse without my wig.
Abraham Lincoln: I did say *some* colored men, the intelligent, the educated, and veterans, I qualified it.
James Ashley: Mr. Stevens is furious. He wants to know why you qualified it.
Schuyler Colfax: No one heard the "intelligent" or the "educated" part. All they heard was the first time any president has ever made mention of Negro voting.
Abraham Lincoln: Still, I wish I'd mentioned it in a better speech.
James Ashley: Mr. Stevens also wants to know why you didn't make a better speech.
Abraham Lincoln: I ought to have done it, I ought have done for Tad's sake! For everybody goddamned sake! I should've clapped you in the madhouse!
Mary Todd Lincoln: Then do it! Do it! Don't you threaten me,you do it this time! Lock me away! You'll have to, I swear if Robert is killed!
Abraham Lincoln: If we submit ourselves to law, even submit to losing freedoms, the freedom to oppress, for instance, we may discover other freedoms previously unknown to us. Had you kept faith with democratic process, as frustrating as that can be...
Judge John A. Campbell: Come sir, spare us these pieties. Did you defeat us with ballots?
Alexander Stephens: How have you held your Union together? Through democracy? How many hundreds of thousands have died during your administration? Your union, sir, is bonded in cannon fire and death.
Abraham Lincoln: It may be you're right. But say all we done is show the world that democracy isn't chaos, that there is a great invisible strength in a people's union? Say we've shown that a people can endure awful sacrifice and yet cohere? Mightn't that save at least the idea of democracy, to aspire to? Eventually to become worthy of? At all rates, whatever must be proven by blood and sacrifice must have been proved by now. Shall we stop this bleeding?
Mary Todd Lincoln: All anyone will remember of me is I was crazy and I ruined your happiness.
Abraham Lincoln: Anyone who thinks that doesn't understand, Molly.
Mary Todd Lincoln: When they look at you, at what it cost to live at the heart of this, they'll wonder at it. They'll wonder at you. They should. But they should also look at the wretched woman by your side, if they want to understand what this was truly like, for an ordinary person, for anyone other than you.
William Hutton: I can't make sense of it, what he died for. Mr. Lincoln, I hate them all, I do, all black people. I am a prejudiced man.
Abraham Lincoln: I'd change that in you if I could, but that's not why I come. I might be wrong, Mr. Hutton, but I expect... Colored people will most likely be free, and when that's so, it's simple truth that your brother's bravery, and his death, helped make it so. Only you can decide whether that's sense enough for you, or not.
Thaddeus Stevens: I don't hold with equality in all things, just equality before the law, nothing more.
Thaddeus Stevens: You are a democrat. What's the matter with you? Are you wicked?
[Giving a speech at a dedication, Lincoln stands beside the flagpole, and with great ceremony takes off his hat, removes a piece of paper from inside and unfolds it, then puts on his glasses]
Abraham Lincoln: [reading] The part assigned to me is to raise the flag which, if there be no fault in the machinery, I will do. And, when up, it shall be for the people to keep it up.
[takes off his glasses and re-folds the paper]
Abraham Lincoln: That's my speech.
Mary Todd Lincoln: No one is loved as much as you by the people. Don't waste that power.
Mary Todd Lincoln: Seward can't do it; you must. Because if you fail to acquire the necessary votes, woe unto you, sir. You will answer to me.
Mary Todd Lincoln: No one has ever lived who knows better than you the proper placement of footfalls on treacherous paths.
Fernando Wood: Estimable colleagues, two bloody years ago this month, his Highness, King Abraham Africanus the First, our Great Usurping Caesar, violator of habeas corpus and freedom of the press, abuser of states' rights.
Abraham Lincoln: Liberality all around. No punishment, I don't want that. And the leaders - Jeff and the rest of 'em - if they escape, leave the country while my back's turned, that wouldn't upset me none. When peace comes it mustn't just be hangings.
Senator Bluff Wade: Whalers?
James Ashley: That's what he said.
Senator Bluff Wade: The man's never been near a whale ship in his life!
Abraham Lincoln: It's nighttime. Ship's move by some terrible power at terrific speed. And though it's imperceptible in the darkness, I have an intuition that we're headed towards a shore. No one else seems to be aboard the vessel. I'm keenly aware of my aloneness.
Abraham Lincoln: [quoting Hamlet] "I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams."
Abraham Lincoln: Hmm. I reckon it's the speed that's strange to me. I'm used to going at a deliberate pace. I should space you, Molly. I shouldn't tell you my dreams.
Mary Todd Lincoln: I don't want to be spared if you aren't And you spare me nothing.
Robert Latham: It's not illegal to bribe congressmen. They starve otherwise.
Robert Lincoln: I'm the only man over fifteen and under sixty-five in this whole place not in uniform.
Tad Lincoln: I'm under fifteen and I have a uniform.
Tad Lincoln: When you were a slave, Mr. Slade, did they beat you?
William Slade: I was born a free man. Nobody beat me except I beat them right back.
[Mrs. Keckley enters]
Elizabeth Keckley: Mr. Lincoln, could you come with me, please...?
William Slade: Mrs. Keckley was a slave. Ask her if she was beaten.
Tad Lincoln: Were you...?
Abraham Lincoln: [shakes his head] Tad...
Elizabeth Keckley: I was beaten with a fire shovel when I was younger than you.
Abraham Lincoln: With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Elizabeth Keckley: They'll approve it. God will see to it.
Abraham Lincoln: I don't envy him his task. He may wish He'd chosen an instrument for His purpose more wieldy than the House of Representatives.
Thaddeus Stevens: Nothing surprises you, Asa, therefore nothing about you is surprising. Perhaps that is why your constituents did not re-elect you to the coming term.
Thaddeus Stevens: It's late, I'm old and I'm going home.
Thaddeus Stevens: What violates natural law? Slavery and you! Pendleton, you insult God. You unnatural noise.
[an avalanche of boos and cheers as Democrats rally to Wood, Republicans rally to Stevens]
James Ashley: Mr. Colfax! Please, use your gavel! They are...
James Ashley: You are out of order!
Schuyler Colfax: [banging the gavel] Order in the chamber!
James Ashley: [shouting to Colfax] Direct the sergeant of arms to suppress this!
James Ashley: We are in session!
Tad Lincoln: Papa? Papa, I want to see Willie.
Abraham Lincoln: Me too, Tad. But we can't. Willie's gone. Three years now, he's gone.
Asa Vintner Litton: Have you lost your very soul, Mr. Stevens? Is there nothing you won't say?
Thaddeus Stevens: I'm sorry you're nauseous, Asa. That must be unpleasant. I want the amendment to pass, so that the constitution's first and only mention of slavery is its absolute prohibition. For this amendment, for which I have worked all my life and for which countless colored men and women have fought and died and now hundreds of thousands of soldiers... No, sir, no, it seems there's very nearly nothing I won't say.
Ulysses S. Grant: [Grant hands the Confederate peace commissioner's proposal back to them, covered in scribbled notes] Gentlemen, I suggest you work some changes into your proposal before you give it to the President.
[Turns and walks away. Stephens follows]
Senator R.M.T. Hunter: We're eager to be on our way to Washington.
Alexander Stephens: Mr Lincoln tell you to tell us this?
Ulysses S. Grant: [Grant takes a cup of coffee from a steward] It says 'securing peace for our two countries' and it goes on like that.
Alexander Stephens: I don't know what you...
Ulysses S. Grant: There's just one country. You and I, we're citizens of that country. I'm fighting to protect it from armed rebels.
[Pats Stephen's shoulder and goes to sit down]
Ulysses S. Grant: From you.
Thaddeus Stevens: [presents a copy of the 13th Amendment to Lydia] A gift for you.
Abraham Lincoln: I am the president of the United States of America, clothed in immense power! You will procure me those votes!
Mary Todd Lincoln: You think I'm ignorant of what you're up to because you haven't discussed this scheme with me as you ought to have done? When have I ever been so easily bamboozled? I believe you when you insist that amending the Constitution and abolishing slavery will end this war. And since you're sending my son into the war, woe to you if you fail to pass the amendment.
Preston Blair: I went to Richmond to talk to traitors, to smile at and plead with traitors, because it'll be spring in two months, the roads'll be passable, the spring slaughter commences.
Abraham Lincoln: Old Neptune!
[paraphrasing Shakespeare's "Macbeth"]
Abraham Lincoln: Shake thy hoary locks!
Richard Schell: Over in Pennsylvania, who's the sweaty man eating his thumb?
Robert Latham: Unknown to me. Seems jumpy.
Richard Schell: Perhaps he'll jump.
William Seward: Madam, if the rebels surrendered next week, would you, at the end of this month, want Congressman Burton to vote for the Thirteenth Amendment?
Mrs. Jolly: If that was how it was, no more war an' all, I reckon Mr Jolly much prefer not to have Congress pass the Amendment.
William Seward: And... why is that?
Mr. Jolly: [looks at Seward in surprise] Niggers.
Mrs. Jolly: If he don't have to let some Alabama coon come up from Missouri and steal his chickens and his job, we'd much prefer that.
[Seward takes Mrs Jolly's letter, walks over to Lincoln and puts it on his desk]
William Seward: [quietly] The people. I begin to see why you're in such a great hurry to put it through.
William Seward: In my opinion...
Abraham Lincoln: To which I always listen...
William Seward: Or pretend to.
Abraham Lincoln: With all three of my ears.
Thaddeus Stevens: Read it to me again, my love.
Lydia Smith: "Proposed..."
Thaddeus Stevens: And adopted.
Lydia Smith: Adopted. "An Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Section One: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
Thaddeus Stevens: Section Two...
Lydia Smith: "Congress shall have power to enforce this amendment by appropriate legislation..."
Robert Lincoln: The war will be over in a month, and you know it will.
Abraham Lincoln: I've found that prophesying is one of life's less profitable occupations.
W.N. Bilbo: [on George Eastman] Looks like he ate a bad oyster.
Abraham Lincoln: Don't spend too much money on the flub dubs.
Abraham Lincoln: [Lincoln quoting Falstaff from Shakespeare's "King Henry the Fourth"] We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow.
Montgomery Blair: They'll vote for this rash and dangerous amendment only if every other possibility is exhausted.
W.N. Bilbo: [on Fernando Wood making his speech] Jesus. When's this son of liberty, sum-a-bitch gonna sit down?
Thaddeus Stevens: [to Lincoln] The people elected me to represent them, to lead them, and I lead. You ought to try it.
Abraham Lincoln: I am asking only that you disenthrall yourself from the slave powers. I will let you know when there is an offer on my desk for surrender. There's none before us now. What's before us now, that's the vote on the Thirteenth Amendment. It's going to be so very close. You see what you can do.
John Usher: It seems to me, sir, you're describing precisely the sort of dictator the Democrats have been howling about.
James Speed: Dictators aren't susceptible to law.
John Usher: Neither is he! He just said as much! Ignoring the courts? Twisting meanings? What reins him in from, from...
Abraham Lincoln: Well, the people do that, I suppose. I signed the Emancipation Proclamation a year and half before my second election. I felt I was within my power to do it; however I also felt that I might be wrong about that; I knew the people would tell me. I gave 'em a year and half to think about it. And they re-elected me.
Abraham Lincoln: And come February the first, I intend to sign the Thirteenth Amendment.
[the three Confederate peace representatives cross the border into Union territory; heading towards their carriage, they balk when they see it being guarded by black soldiers. At last, Stephens steps toward the waiting door]
Alexander Stephens: [to soldiers] Much obliged.
George Pendleton: I appeal to my fellow Democrats, to all Republican representatives who give a fig for peace!
Thaddeus Stevens: As long as your household accounts are in order, Madam, we have no need to investigate them.
Mary Todd Lincoln: You have always taken such a lively, even prosecutorial interest in my household accounts, Mr. Stevens.
Thaddeus Stevens: Your household accounts have always been so interesting.
Mary Todd Lincoln: Yes, thank you, it's true. The miracles I have wrought out of fertilizer bills and cutlery invoices, but I had to. Four years ago, when the President and I arrived, this was a pure pigsty. Tobacco stains in the carpets, mushrooms sprouting from the ceilings! And a pauper's pittance allotted for improvements. As if your committee joined with all of Washington waiting, in what you anticipated to be our comfort in squalor, further proof that my husband and I were prairie primitives, unsuited to the position to which an error of the people, a flaw in the democratic process, had elevated us.
Private Harold Green: [speaking to Lincoln on the battlefield] Some of us was in the Second Kansas Colored. We fought the Rebs at Jenkins' Ferry last April just after they killed every Negro soldier they captured at Poison Springs. So at Jenkins' Ferry, we decided warn't takin' no Reb prisoners. And we didn't leave a one of 'em alive. The ones of us that didn't die that day, we joined up with the 116th US Colored, sir, from Camp Nelson, Kentucky.
Mary Todd Lincoln: [to Thaddeus Stevens] The past is the past, it's a new year now and we are all getting along, or so they tell me. I gather we are working together! The White House and the other House? Hatching little plans together?
Robert Lincoln: [Robert leans in quietly] Mother.
Mary Todd Lincoln: What?
Robert Lincoln: You're creating a bottleneck.
Mary Todd Lincoln: Oh!
Mary Todd Lincoln: Oh, I'm detaining you, and more important, the people behind you! How the people love my husband. They flock to see him by their thousands on public days. They will never love you the way they love him. How difficult it must be for you to know that, and yet how important to remember it.
[Mary gives Stephens a slight, lethal smile. He holds the look; his poker-face yields to a barely perceptible smile, bemused and perhaps a little admiring]
William Seward: If procuring votes with offers of employment is what you intend, I'll fetch a friend from Albany who can supply the skulking men gifted at this kind of shady work. Spare me the indignity of actually speaking to Democrats. Spare you the exposure and liability.
Abraham Lincoln: But there is one Ethan Allen story that I'm very partial to...
Edwin Stanton: No! No, you're, you're going to tell a story! I don't believe that I can bear to listen to another one of your stories right now!
[storms out, shouting down the corridor as he goes, voice trailing off]
Edwin Stanton: I need the B&O sideyard schedules for Alexandria! I asked for them this morning!
W.N. Bilbo: Perhaps we need reinforcements. If Jeff Davis wants to cease hostilities, who do you think'll give a genuine solid shit to free slaves?
William Seward: Get back to it... and gentlemen, good day.
Richard Schell: We are at an impasse.
Robert Latham: Tell Lincoln to deny the rumors, publicly.
Richard Schell: Tell us what you expect of us.
William Seward: I expect you to do your work. And to have sufficient sense and taste not to presume to instruct the President. Or me.
Richard Schell: Is there a Confederate offer, or not?
Fernando Wood: [Clay Hawkins enters] Bless my eyes, if it isn't the Post Master of Millersburg Ohio!
George Pendleton: Mr. LeClerk felt honor-bound to inform us... of your disgusting betrayal. Your prostitution.
Fernando Wood: Is that true, Postmaster Hawkins? Is your maidenly virtue for sale?
Robert Lincoln: I might not even want to be a lawyer.
Abraham Lincoln: It's a sturdy profession. And a useful one.
Robert Lincoln: Yes, and I want to be useful, but *now*, not afterwards.
Abraham Lincoln: [Slade hands Lincoln his formal gloves] I ain't wearing them things, Mr. Slade, they never fit right.
William Slade: The missus will have you wear 'em. Don't think about leaving 'em.
Robert Lincoln: You're delaying, that's your favorite tactic.
William Slade: [overlapping dialogue] Be useful...
Robert Lincoln: You won't tell me no,
William Slade: and stop distracting him.
Robert Lincoln: but the war will be over in a month, and you know it will!
Abraham Lincoln: I've found that prophesying is one of life's less prophet-able
Abraham Lincoln: occupations.
Abraham Lincoln: Now, here's a sixteen year old boy. They're going to hang him. He was with the 15th Indiana Calvary near Beaufort, seems he lamed his horse to avoid battle. I don't think even Stanton would complain if I pardoned him? You think Stanton would complain?
John Hay: Ummm... I don't know, sir, I don't know who you're, uh... What time is it?
Abraham Lincoln: It's three forty in the morning.
John Nicolay: [not fully conscious] Don't... let him pardon any more deserters...
John Hay: Mr. Stanton thinks you pardon too many. He's generally apoplectic...
Abraham Lincoln: He oughtn't to have done that, crippled his horse. That was cruel, but you don't just hang a sixteen year old boy for that...
John Hay: Ask the horse what he thinks.
Abraham Lincoln: For cruelty. There'd be no sixteen year old boys left.
[protracted pause while staring into oblivion]
Abraham Lincoln: Grant wants me to bring the secesh delegates to Washington.
John Nicolay: [fully awaken, sits upright in bed] So... there are secesh delegates?
Abraham Lincoln: He was afraid, that's all it was. I don't care to hang a boy for being frightened, either. What good would it do him?
[signs the pardon]
Abraham Lincoln: War's nearly done. Ain't that so? What use one more corpse? Any more corpses?
[rises to leaves]
John Hay: Do you need company?
Abraham Lincoln: Times like this, I'm best alone.
Thaddeus Stevens: [knock at the door] It opens!
[a nervous man enters hesitantly, closing the door behind]
Thaddeus Stevens: You are Canfrey?
Alexander Coffroth: Coffroth, Mr. Stevens, Alexander Coffroth, I'm... I'm...
Thaddeus Stevens: [skeptically] Are we representatives of the same state?
Alexander Coffroth: [stammers] Y... yes sir! We sit only three desks apart.
Thaddeus Stevens: [Stevens waves him into a chair] I haven't noticed you.
Thaddeus Stevens: I'm a Republican, and you, Coughdrop, are a Democrat?
Alexander Coffroth: [stammers] Well... uh... I... um... that is to say...
Thaddeus Stevens: The modern travesty of Thomas Jefferson's political organization to which you have attached yourself like a barnacle has the effrontery to call itself The Democratic Party. You are a Dem-o-crat. What's the matter with you? Are you wicked?
Alexander Coffroth: Well, I felt... um...
Thaddeus Stevens: Never mind, Coffsnot. You were ignominiously trounced at the hustings in November's election by your worthy challenger, a Republican.
Alexander Coffroth: No, sir, I was not, um, trounced. Uh, he wants to steal my seat. I didn't lose the election.
Thaddeus Stevens: What difference does it make if you lost or not? The governor of our state, is... a Democrat?
Alexander Coffroth: No, he's... he's a...
Alexander Coffroth: a Re... re... re...
Thaddeus Stevens: Re...
Alexander Coffroth: Re...
Thaddeus Stevens: [nods] Pub...
Alexander Coffroth: pub...
Thaddeus Stevens: Li...
Alexander Coffroth: Li...
Thaddeus Stevens: Can.
Alexander Coffroth: Can. Republican.
Thaddeus Stevens: I know what he is. This is a rhetorical exercise. And Congress is controlled by what party? Yours?
[Coffroth shakes his head]
Thaddeus Stevens: Your party was beaten, your challenger's party now controls the House, and hence the House Committee on Elections, so you have been beaten. You shall shortly be sent home in disgrace. Unless...
Alexander Coffroth: I know what I must do, sir! I will immediately become a Republican and vote yes for...
Thaddeus Stevens: No! Coffroth will vote yes but Coffroth will remain a Democrat until after he does so.
Alexander Coffroth: Why wait to switch? I'm happy to switch...
Thaddeus Stevens: We want to show the amendment has bipartisan support, you idiot. Early in the next Congress, when I tell you to do so, you will switch parties. Now congratulations on your victory, and get out.
George Pendleton: Are you despairing, or merely lazy? This fight is for The United States of America! Nothing suffices. A rumor? Nothing! They're not lazy! They're busily buying votes! While we hope to be saved by the national mood?
[looks over at Stevens, at his desk consulting with Ashley and Julian]
George Pendleton: Before this blood is dry, when Stevens next takes the floor, taunt him. You excel at that. Get him to proclaim what we all know he believes in his coal-colored heart. That this vote is meant to set the black race on high, to niggerate
George Pendleton: America...
Fernando Wood: George, please. Stay on course.
George Pendleton: Bring Stevens to full froth. I can ensure that every newspaperman from Louisville to San Francisco will be here to witness it and print it.
[Colfax gavels the chamber to order]
Schuyler Colfax: [gavels the House to order] The floor belongs to the mellifluent gentleman from Kentucky, Mr. George Yeaman.
George Yeaman: [Democrats applaud as Yeaman approaches the podium] I thank you, Speaker Colfax.
[surveys the chamber and addresses the House]
George Yeaman: Although I'm disgusted by slavery
[calls of agreement from Republicans]
George Yeaman: I rise on this sad and solemn day to announce that I'm opposed to the amendment.
[calls of agreement from Democrats]
George Yeaman: We must consider what will become of colored folk if four million are in one instant set free.
Asa Vintner Litton: They'll be free, George! That's what'll become of them!
George Yeaman: [...] And we will be forced to enfranchise the men of the colored race... it would be inhuman not to! Who among us is prepared to give Negroes the vote?
[momentarily silenced by cheers and boos throughout the chamber]
George Yeaman: And... and... what shall follow upon that? Universal enfranchisement? Votes for women? We...
[stops, baffled and dismayed by the explosion provoked]
Abraham Lincoln: Are you afraid of what lies ahead for your people if we succeed?
Elizabeth Keckley: White people don't want us here.
Abraham Lincoln: Many don't.
Elizabeth Keckley: What about you?
Abraham Lincoln: Hmm. I don't know you, Mrs. Keckley. Any of you. You're familiar to me, as all people are... unaccommodated, poor, bare, forked creatures such as we all are. You have a right to expect what I expect, and likely our expectations are not incomprehensible to each other. I assume I'll get used to you. Now what you are to the nation, what'll become of you once slavery's day is done, I don't know.
Elizabeth Keckley: What my people are to be, I can't say. Negroes have been fighting and dying for freedom since the first of us was a slave. I never heard any ask what freedom will bring. Freedom's first. As for me, my son died, fighting for the Union, wearing the Union blue. For freedom he died. I'm his mother. That's what I am to the nation, Mr. Lincoln. What else must I be?
George Yeaman: I can't vote for the amendment, Mr. Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln: I saw a barge once, Mr. Yeaman, filled with colored men in chains heading down the Mississippi to the New Orleans slave markets. It sickened me. And more than that, it brought a shadow down. A pall around my eyes. Slavery troubled me, as long as I can remember, in a way it never troubled my father, though he hated it. In his own fashion. He knew no smallholding dirt farmer could compete with slave plantations, he took us out from Kentucky to get away from 'em. He wanted Indiana kept free. He wasn't a kind man, but there was a rough moral urge for fairness, for freedom in him. I learnt that from him, I suppose, if little else from him. We didn't care for one another, Mr. Yeaman.
George Yeaman: [nods his head] I... Well, I'm sorry to hear that.
Abraham Lincoln: Lovingkindness, that most ordinary thing, came to me from other sources. I'm grateful for that.
George Yeaman: Well, I hate it, too, sir. Slavery, but... but we're entirely unready for emancipation. There's too many questions...
Abraham Lincoln: We're unready for peace too, ain't we?
Abraham Lincoln: When it comes, it'll present us with conundrums and dangers greater than any we've faced during the war, bloody as it's been. We'll have to extemporize and experiment
[rises from sitting on the desk]
Abraham Lincoln: with what it is when it is.
[takes the seat beside Yeaman, no longer towering over Yeaman, leans forward and looks Yeaman in the eye]
Abraham Lincoln: I read your speech, George. Negroes and the vote, that's a puzzle.
George Yeaman: No, no. But, but, but Negroes can't, um, vote, Mr. Lincoln. You're not suggesting that we enfranchise colored people.
Abraham Lincoln: I'm asking only that you disenthrall yourself from the slave powers. I'll let you know when there's an offer on my desk for surrender. There's none before us now. What's before us now, that's the vote on the Thirteenth Amendment. It's going to be so very close. You see what you can do.
[exits leaving Yeaman, considering]