Lincoln Movie Quotes

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"Lincoln" movie quotes give an inside look at the historical events surrounding the abolition of slavery and the end of the American Civil War, both of which had main character President Abraham Lincoln at their core. The 2012 biographical war film was adapted from the book "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin into a screenplay by Tony Kushner and directed by the great Steven Spielberg. The film was given a release date of November 9, 2012, which is also the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

In "Lincoln," Academy Award-winner Daniel Day-Lewis portrays the title character in the last few months of his life. Despite being in the heat of the American Civil War, Lincoln was beloved by his people yet still had a great deal of work to do in order to end slavery and lead the Union to a victory that ended the war. "Lincoln" examines the work President Lincoln had to put in to accomplish those things, including the struggles with those who opposed him, the compromises with those with other priorities and those who stood by Lincoln every step of the way.

The impressive cast of "Lincoln" includes Sally Field as First Ladt Mary Todd Lincoln, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robert Todd Lincoln, Tommy Lee Jones as Radical Republican Congressional Leader Thaddeus Stevens, David Strathairn as Secretary of State William Seward, Jared Harris as Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, Hal Holbrook as Francis Preston Blair and John Hawkes as Colonel Robert Latham.

Though touted as nothing short of a masterpiece, this historical drama film deals with very serious issues in very tense times. For something a bit different, instead check out "Flight," "This Must Be the Place," "Cloud Atlas," "Wreck-It Ralph," "Nobody Walks," "The Sessions," "Silent Hill: Revelation 3D," "Chasing Mavericks," "Alex Cross," "Smashed," "Sinister," "Seven Psychopaths," "Argo," "Here Comes the Boom," "The Paperboy," "Taken 2," "Frankenweenie," and "Looper."

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    Cure Ourselves of Salvery

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    Abraham Lincoln: "Abolishing slavery settles the fate for all coming time, not only of the millions in bondage but of unborn millions to come. Shall we stop this bleeding? We must cure ourselves of slavery. This amendment is that cure. Here stepped out upon the world's stage now with the fate of human dignity upon our hands. Blood's been spilled to afford us this moment."

    Lincoln continues to express his feelings that slavery needs to go and push for the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment which would abolish slavery. This battle however was not as easy as many historical texts remember.

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    By the People, For the People

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    Abraham Lincoln: "We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

    President Abraham Lincoln delivers his Gettysburg address during the American Civil War noting that democracy is a new birth of freedom, one that brings equality to all citizens, regardless of skin color.

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    Fitted to the Times We're Born Into

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    Abraham Lincoln: "Can we choose to be born? Are we fitted to the times we're born into? We begin with equality, that's the origin isn't it? That's justice. See we've shown that a people can endure awful sacrifice and yet cohere."

    Abraham Lincoln ponders life in general, specifically if we are born destined to impact the times we're born into and the origins of equality.

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    President Lincoln Has Asked Us

    Radical Republican Congressional leader Thaddeus Stevens: "Abraham Lincoln has asked us to work with him to accomplish the death of slavery."

    Though Radical Republican Congressional leader Thaddeus Stevens was all for the abolition of slavery, he did have his doubts about what President Lincoln would have to sacrifice to pass the Thirteenth Amendment, something that made Stevens' efforts to convince his party to support the bill difficult.

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    Euclid's First Common Notion

    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 tries to explain his idea of equality in a different sense, not one that relates to persons but rather mathematical reasoning. This analogy helps those who are against his proposal to end slavery to think about the situation less personally.

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    Seeking a Negotiated Peace

    Francis Preston Blair: "We can't tell our people they can vote yes on abolishing slavery less at the same time we can tell em that you're seeking a negotiated peace."

    Though Francis Preston Blair was quite the influential Republican at the time and in favor of ending the Civil War, he was also honest about his capabilities, including wanting reassurance from President Lincoln that peace would come if his party voted to abolish slavery.

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    Equality Before the Law

    Thaddeus Stevens: "I don't hold with equality in all things, just equality before the law, nothing more."

    Trying to find a compromise with those opposing the bill, Thaddeus Stevens addresses the House by telling them that true equality is not what is happening here, simply equality of all personals in a legal sense of freedom.

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    Proof That Some Men Are Inferior

    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."

    In a speech before the House, Thaddeus Stevens knocks it out of the park by noting that even within their ranks many are not equal, such as an opposing Representative from Ohio. This causes the supports of ending slavery to laugh but the message resonates even with the opposition.

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    Sharing This Country's Infinite Abundance

    Thaddeus Stevens: "White people cannot bear the thought of sharing this country's infinite abundance with Negroes."

    Thaddeus Stevens breaks down the idea of slavery to something simple when addressing the House. Quite simply, the white people realize how great America is and are being greedy by not wanting to share it with others.

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    George Washington's Likeness in a Water Closet

    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 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. 'Appropriate? George Washington's likeness in a water closet?' 'Yes,' said Mr. Allen, 'where it will do good service. The world knows nothing will make an Englishman s*** quicker than the sight of George Washington.' I love that story."

    President Lincoln shares an anecdote about placing a portrait of George Washington in a restroom as a way to get this staff to think outside the box when trying to convince others to end slavery. Spoiler: It works.

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    Passed By Corruption, Aided and Abetted By the Purest Man

    Thaddeus Stevens: "The greatest measure of the nineteenth century was passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America."

    Providing a parallel to the corruption in politics of today, Thaddeus Stevens talks about the dirty work that was presented with such pure intent.

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    Clothed in Immense Power

    Abraham Lincoln: "I am the President of the United States of America, clothed in immense power! You will procure me those votes!"

    President Lincoln realizes the enormity of what he is trying to accomplish but also how much power his office holds. Accordingly, he demands that his staff work hard to accomplish the task of getting the needed votes.

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    You Cannot Have Both

    Secretary of State William Seward: "It's either the amendment or this confederate piece, you cannot have both."

    In this line from Secretary of State William Seward, the battle to pass the Thirteenth Amendment is highlighted including the fact that it was a very close vote, one that came with certain compromises.

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    This is History

    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."
    Clerk - Edward McPherson: "This isn't usual, Mr. Pendleton. This is history."

    While the Speaker of the House doesn't normally vote, in this case, Schuyler Colfax wants his name down on the record as a supporter of this bill. Colfax recognizes the magnitude of the moment and wants to be part of it.

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    You Will Answer to Me

    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."

    What's worse than having the President of the United States of America on your back to accomplish something that will change the world? Having the President AND the First Lady pushing for this historical movement.

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    The Constitution Gives Me War Powers

    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 gives a speech to his cabinet members inspiring them to think about what they are actually in government to accomplish. They have this vast power and though some of it is undefined, it's clear that they can use their power for good, in this case, ending slavery.

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    A Jefferson City Lawyer

    Abraham Lincoln: "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."

    In another anecdote shared to make people thing, President Lincoln tells a tale about prophecies. Lincoln hopes that his staff can use this sort of an attack to convince the opposers that slavery is dead by telling them it's dead and hoping they will submit to that idea.

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    Don't Waste That Power

    First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln: "No one's ever been loved so much by the people. Don't waste that power."

    Always there to support him, First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln reassures President Lincoln that he has a incredible opportunity to do great things for his country and should not let that chance go to waste.

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