Niagara Gazette

Columns

April 3, 2013

BRADBERRY: Still holding these truths to be self evident

Niagara Gazette — Physically unable to get to a movie theater, and personally unwilling to watch it on a bootleg DVD, the long wait felt like an eternity, so I must have been one of the very first to watch it at home when the 2012 Academy Award winning movie, “Lincoln” was finally released for some limited cable television viewing last week; I must admit, it was well worth the wait.

I’m no film critic, and this is not intended to be a critique of the movie. I do consider myself a passionate student of history with a keen interest in my hometown’s role in some of the major events that helped shape our nation, so my comments might be better construed as a critical analysis of the media’s interpretation of history.

Right now, during the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War my curiosity and my concurrent relegation to a relatively disengaged, but highly opinionated bystander status has drawn me into a critical review of Niagara’s role in the national debate leading up to, during and after that period when we were engaged up to our necks in the struggle to abolish slavery and thereby preserve the Union.

“Lincoln,” in the most compelling, though, at times historically questionable way, does a remarkable job of framing the issues surrounding the painfully eventual Post Civil War adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment which ostensibly ended slavery.

In a most interesting, if not entertaining way, the Spielberg film brings to life some of the key players; Abraham Lincoln, nearly perfectly portrayed by Daniel-Day Lewis, Mary Todd Lincoln, brilliantly played by Sally Field, Thaddeus Stevens superbly performed by the ever versatile Tommy Lee Jones, the remarkable, Hal Holbrook as Preston Blair, and of course, Jackie Earle Haley as the wretched, self avowed racist Alexander H. Stephens each of whom, in their own dramatic ways raise the essential question, “do we hold these truths to be self evident?”

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