I have seen this, and there are two arguments as to why Congress had to pass this 13th amendment to Constitution. And they came down to dirty politics that had to be used to convince his cabinet to be on Lincoln's side on this.
1. Because it is embracing as a nation to be seen internationally as having slavery as part of their normal activities.
2. Because we can't look upon barges full of slaves drifting down the river to the Southern States to be used for the economy.
I wanted to see this because of the hard decisions that had to be made, and to see the dirty politics that were used to eventually get the amendment passed. I also wanted to see the personalities that dotted the landscape during this era in American politics, from the President himself, his wife and prominent senators and power players. I wasn't disappointed.
Some of the things that stuck out to me we're these:
end of spoilers
The person you have to be to make those wartime decision to send your own people against your own people, visiting the hospitals and the battle grounds and still sign this documents that makes it so. The wife of Lincoln was not a personable woman. She made enemies by how she ran the household when she moved into the White House, and these were friends she put off side. She was a very tragic person who suffered for her own self guilt towards her sons death, and the fight it took not to commit her. There was a heated moment when Abe and his wife swapped insults about the time of their sons death, and whose fault it was.
Just getting back to Abe for a minute, he was a man of great learning and experience in the battles of HILL, so he had answers for every kind of argument that his contemporaries slung back at him. So Linclon was already a hardened man, coupled with his legal expertise, so he appreciated all the lies he told and the legal necessities to go through the loop holes. And he did it with a poetic relaxed state so he could tell you the message as a story he recalled. But the real thing I learned was the hard side. There were characters in Washington, who I identified with, who lacked the courage to make hard decisions, that Lincoln had for the job he had. He asked a young telegraph officer did he think people were made for their time. The young man said that Linclon was, and that gave him courage. This just after Lincoln hedged over whether to meet the South to talk peace, or tell them no. And continue the war. Lincoln decided after the response from the operator, to not sue for peace.
I particularly liked Tommy Lee Jones' STEWART, who looked and acted like a hardened grunt in the world of politics, and his arguments to his enemies on the floor of the House. I liked his enemies and their emotional arguments how they portrayed the opposite side of the argument of the 13th amendment. I wanted to see what the amendments were and what the final count was to pass the bill, because that showed the divide amongst the people of power with stakes in the outcome.
I was intrigued that Abe had no idea what would come after the war ended, and what the African Americans would do after the amendment passed, and as it worked out, he never would. He wanted the leaders of the Confederacy to be allowed a back door out of the country so there would be no hangings.
I was a little worried that the passing of the 13th Amendment was going to be very patronizing to the African Americans. That it would be seen as just looking after their welfare, and not be full citizenship with all it's rights. I couldn't find anything to justify that it was patronizing
I know this was a story just about the politics behind the passing of the 13th Amendment, but it was in the setting of the American Civil War. There were moments when the Confederacy representatives did appear at negotiating tables, though, so I would have liked to see the politics of the Confederacy as well. After all it was a story about dismantling that part of the USA for its economic base, slavery. I can understand Spielberg just sticking to the Union perspective on this film, but it did smack a little of the history as written by the victors.
My overall view of that moment in history is this. I feel there may have been overseas pressure put to bare on the young America, about the view that they were a Democracy but they upheld slavery, so they contradicted themselves. So America had to decide whether they were a Democracy or were they going to be embarrassed by this taint against their belief of their politics. Lincoln went full thrust against the nation with this embarrassment, and drove it through all the years of discrimination and ingrained practices.
If I were in charge of Academy Awards this is the film I would give it too, just because of the script alone. It was a lot of talking heads, but the tone of the debate and the characters and their arguments were compelling. I give it 2nd best of the year, after Avengers.