Stay up to date with Current Events from WebLessons, updated every Monday morning. Click Here to view the archive of past articles.
The 2013 awards season began this week when the Screen Actor’s Guild and the Golden Globes both announced their nominees. Among them was Steven Spielberg’s latest gift to the movie-viewing world: Lincoln. It drew seven Golden Globe nominations, more than any other film this season. The historical film examines the final months of Lincoln’s life as he struggles to end the Civil War, to reunite the country, and to convince Congressional leaders to pass the 13th Amendment which would abolish slavery and free slaves.
The Civil War era represents one of the most important and complex in American history. Hundreds of thousands of men—white and African American—lost their lives. The Southern, slave-based economy was irreparably damaged. A deep and grave philosophical divide threatened a nation’s unity. Lincoln faced numerous crisis: As Commander in Chief, how would he ensure the Union would win the War? How and under what conditions could he reunite the country? Could he persuade Congress to abolish slavery?
This week, turn your attention back to a fascinating historical time—the final months of 1864 and the first months of 1865. Discover more about Spielberg’s new film, the 16th President of the United States, and the 13th Amendment.
Lincoln, the Movie
Before you head to the theater, visit the website for Spielberg’s Lincoln. Get a sneak peak of the movie; open chapter II, Videos, and watch Trailer and Trailer 2. In them, Lincoln asks, “Shall we stop this bleeding?” To what was he referring? What choice was Lincoln told he must make? What is the movie’s view of Lincoln?
Creating an historical movie requires that the film accurately depict historical events. If the movie is to be authentic, the director is beholden to history. The clothes, the dialogue, the setting, the wallpaper, each must be accurate. Learn how Spielberg approached various decisions; watch 60 Minutes: Daniel Day-Lewis.
Discover how the movie has been received and what Spielberg and Day-Lewis say about their experience making the movie. The Meet the Press panel discusses the lessons of Lincoln. Listen to Daniel Day-Lewis and Steven Spielberg share their view of Abraham Lincoln’s legacy and how Day-Lewis captured Lincoln’s voice. Stop in the Gallery for views of images from and actors in the movie.
Lincoln, the Man
As Day-Lewis mentioned during his talk with Oprah, history has placed Lincoln on a pedestal. The result is that he is at once adored and dehumanized. Perhaps the best person to summarize Lincoln, is Lincoln himself. Abraham Lincoln Online shares two autobiographies. C-Span offers a biographical vignette and an opportunity to visit Lincoln’s birthplace.
Travel to PBS to join historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as he goes Looking for Lincoln. Begin by watching the introduction. Discover what is known about Lincoln’s early years, his career as a lawyer, Lincoln and slavery, and his emergence on the national scene. There are other videos; you may want to view more. Lincoln is remembered across the United States with statues, streets, and sites. Visit some.
Hindsight is 20/20 but history’s view is not always so clear. Historians must find, examine, and interpret evidence to piece together what happened. Multiple perspectives makes this murky work. Take a turn studying the life and times of Lincoln via Lincoln-era primary source documents.
Try your skills at Lincoln Over Time, an interactive timeline that introduces you to images and places from Lincoln’s life and challenges you to place them in chronological order. To do this, drag each image up to its correct place in timeline. Finally, challenge yourself—test your knowledge with a quiz about Abraham Lincoln.
The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution is brief, merely two sections and a total of 43 words. With them, they legally freed slaves in America, ended the practice of slavery, and offered new hope to future generations of African Americans. Lincoln worked tirelessly to pass the 13th Amendment. Read the background and the effect of the 13th Amendment.
Visit the ConstitutionCenter.org to examine this amendment and the controversy surrounding it. Highlight Section 1, then scroll down for an explanation of it. Primary source documents and an historian’s expertise provide three short viewpoints. Click the grey viewpoints tab to access them. Highlight Section 2 and read the explanation of it.
Return to the PBS site to examine slavery after the Civil War. Travel along the interactive timeline from 1860 to 1870. Read about each of the red dot and grey bar events along this section of the timeline. How did states north and south of the Mason Dixon line skirt the intentions of the 13th Amendment? Click on the yellow states to learn how.
What was it like for African Americans immediately following the Civil War? How did the Civil War affect the Southern economy and southern traditions? How does a nation make the 13th Amendment real? How does it make a legal amendment a reality? Watch the prologue and chapter 2 of Slavery by Another Name. Summarize the complications associated with emancipation.