Congressman Joe Courtney has a problem with Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster, Academy Award nominated film “Lincoln.”
“I think it’s a wonderful movie,” Courtney told Seattle’s Morning News, who watched it with his wife on Saturday night.
When it came to how Connecticut’s members of Congress voted in the film, one representative voted in favor of the thirteenth amendment and two did not.
It was a red flag for Courtney. “I thought, that cannot be right.”
So the representative from Connecticut’s 2nd district did some research the way most of us do – he Googled it.
On Monday, when he returned to Capitol Hill, he took his research to a more official level. He asked his congressional research assistant to pull up the file.
“Sure enough, Connecticut, which actually had four house members in 1865, all voted unanimously in favor of the 13th amendment. Three Lincoln Republicans and one Democrat. So it was actually one of the opposition party members that crossed the aisle and voted in favor of the 13th amendment.”
Courtney said his constituents were bothered by the mistake. After losing 5,000 union soldiers in the war, it seems like a blow to portray the state as not being on board with the cause.
So Courtney wrote a letter to Steven Spielberg. While he hasn’t yet heard back from the iconic filmmaker about the historical inaccuracies, he said he has heard indirectly from the some of the screenwriters.
According to Courtney, they say they took artistic license in an effort to create more drama – make it appear as though there was more opposition to the 13th amendment.
“Connecticut, alphabetically, was first in the call of the states,” said Courtney. “That’s really the fallback they’ve been claiming.”
He hasn’t just been trying to stir the pot in Connecticut. The story has piqued the interest of others too now that it’s gone national.
Much like another amendment, the first, Courtney said he feels no need to force Spielberg’s or Dreamworks’ hand and change the scene of the film. But he said it’s still not too late. The DVD release is just around the corner and it could right some of the wrongs.
While a movie can rarely be taken for historical fact, KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross acknowledged many audience members with little background on the time period will reference the film as just that. “I think it’s actually a big deal,” Ross told Courtney.
And at least if “Lincoln” is taken as fact, it’s not as bad as some other scenarios. Like “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.” Said Courtney, “There are hopefully very few members of the audience that naive to treat it as history.”