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Awesome / Lincoln

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  • Thaddeus Stevens explaining how it is that he can say that some men may possibly be inferior to others. After being forced by political necessity to disavow his strong belief that black people should be considered completely equal, and instead say that they should only be considered equal before the law, Democrats Pendleton and Wood try to goad him into stating his true opinion. Stevens, after repeating his line like a Survival Mantra a few times, finally looks at the Democrats and uses Pendleton as a prime example of his argument. And it is awesome.
    “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! 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 I say: I do not hold with equality in all things, only with equality before the law!”
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  • George Yeaman changing his mind and voting for the amendment. Loudly.
  • Lincoln, getting an earful from both sides of his Cabinet and Republican leaders who feel lied to over the Amendment process and the possibility of Confederate peace commissioners in the city, erupts in a fury that he cannot take the squabbling anymore and that all of humanity demands their effort to end slavery:
    Lincoln: I can't listen to this anymore. I can't accomplish a goddamn thing of any human meaning or worth until we cure ourselves of slavery and end this pestilential war! Whether any of you or anyone else knows it, I know I need this! This amendment is that cure! We are 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 groustle and heckle and dodge about like pettifogging Tammany Hall hucksters!
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  • The above scene ends with Lincoln at his most coldly furious, after James Ashley questions exactly how they should get the votes they need to pass the Amendment. Lincoln fixes him with a weary and incredulous "Are You Kidding Me?" expression, then rises from his chair, to his full height:
    Lincoln: Buzzards' guts, man. I am the President of the United States of America. Clothed in immense power! You will procure me these votes.
  • As part of delaying the Southern peace delegation, Lincoln has General Grant return the original documents of the Confederate peace terms insisting on "revisions," because the North cannot accept the South's argument that the Civil War is between two nations instead of one nation fighting a rebellion over slavery. When Alexander Stephens refuses and asks Grant "If we're not to discuss a truce between warring nations, what in heaven's name can we discuss?" Grant calmly puffs cigar smoke out his nostrils, smiles, and answers "Terms of surrender."
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  • The Congressmen who voted for the Amendment's passage breaking into "The Battle Cry of Freedom."
  • When Congressman Clay Hawkins, who up until that time had seemed like nothing more than a corrupt coward, first accepting Lincoln and Bilboe's bribe in exchange for his vote, then switching back for fear of what the people in his hometown will do to him if they find out that he voted for the amendment, finally screws his courage to the sticking place and votes for the amendment, loudly proclaiming that anyone who doesn't like it can "Shoot me dead, I am voting yes!"
    • Which was quickly followed by another Sudden Principled Stand using the same words, which was quickly hedged into an abstention, rather than a vote in favor.
  • When the Speaker of the House, Schuyler Colfax, decides to cast his vote for the amendment at the very end, despite not needing to. As everyone waits to hear his vote, he says "Aye, of course." as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. At this point in history it was customary for the Speaker of the House not to vote on legislation, but simply maintain order and direct the business of the House. Of course, there was nothing that said he ''couldn't'' vote.
    • He also shuts down Pendleton's attempt to prevent him from voting:
      Pendleton: The Speaker doesn't vote.
      Colfax: The Speaker may vote if he so chooses.
      Pendleton: (staggering) It's highly unusual...
      Colfax: This isn't usual, Pendleton. This is history.
  • Lincoln at the telegraph office, mulling over his bringing the Confederate peace delegates into Washington in order to mollify the Republican moderates (although it would kill political support for the Amendment). He openly talks to the two telegraph operators about the whole concept of the phrase "self-evident", how a mathematical concept from Euclid applies to the basic rights of humanity spelled out in the Declaration of Independence, and you can see him making the decision to keep the delegates away from the city in order to delay their arrival until the Amendment can pass.
  • For the nation: the Thirteenth Amendment passes. The matter of slavery is settled. For all coming time.


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