Accurate Lincoln depiction is accurate.
Flawless casting for Spielberg’s Lincoln
DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW EXCITED I AM FOR THIS MOVIE?!?! DO YOU EVEN UNDERSTAND?! I AM OBSESSED WITH LINCOLN, YOU GUYS, OBSESSED. IF I COULD MAJOR IN LINCOLN I WOULD I CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS I AM GOING TO JUMP UP AND DOWN AND DISSOLVE IN THE THEATER SOMEBODY HELP.
Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film Lincoln, which follows the last four months of the president’s life.
It’s freaking me out—he looks so much like him, it’s eerie.
1. Lincoln had a Hoosier accent and spoke in a high-pitched voice. Given his tall stature and general epic-ness, one would think he had the dignified baritone of a classic politician, but according to William Herndon, one of his contemporaries, his voice was “shrill, squeaking, piping, unpleasant.” Fortunately, Lincoln was a captivating public speaker, and “whenever he began to talk his eyes flashed and every facial movement helped express his idea and feeling. Then involuntarily vanished all thought or consciousness of his uncouth appearance, or awkward manner, or even his high keyed, unpleasant voice” (Abram Bergen).
2. Lincoln’s favorite play was Shakespeare’s Macbeth. He read it and reread it constantly. In an 1863 letter to actor James Hackett, Lincoln wrote, ”I think nothing equals Macbeth. It is wonderful. Unlike you gentlemen of the profession, I think the soliloquy in Hamlet commencing “O, my offence is rank’ surpasses that commencing, ‘To be, or not to be.’ But pardon this small attempt at criticism.”
3. Lincoln loved tinkering with machines and is the only United States president to date to have registered a patent for one of his inventions. The invention, which received patent number 6,469 in 1849, was a device meant to help lift boats over obstructions via a system of large bellows. In his own words: “Be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, of Springfield, in the county of Sangamon, in the state of Illinois, have invented a new and improved manner of combining adjustable buoyant air chambers with a steam boat or other vessel for the purpose of enabling their draught of water to be readily lessened to enable them to pass over bars, or through shallow water, without discharging their cargoes.”
4. Lincoln loved animals. Having one’s photograph taken was very expensive in the 19th century, but he splurged to have a photo taken of his Laborador retriever, Fido, in 1860 (image below). According to one friend, he had a “particular weakness for kittens” and “ would take one & turn it on its back & talk to it for half an hour at a time.” As a child, his stepsister recalled, he made schoolhouse speeches advocating the humane treatment of insects, “Contending that an ants life was to it, as sweet as ours.” He was also known to go out of his way to rescue animals in distress or in danger. Once, Lincoln’s friends, who had been riding with him in the country, noticed he had gone missing from the group. When he finally returned, he explained that he’d seen two baby birds who had fallen out of their nest and he’d stopped to put them back with their mother. The other men apparently had a good laugh at this, but Lincoln said earnestly, ‘I could not have slept tonight if I had not given those two little birds to their mother’.”
5. Tall and gaunt though he was, Lincoln was deceptively strong and athletic. “For such an awkward fellow,” he wrote in 1864, “I am pretty sure-footed. It used to take a pretty dextrous man to throw me.” In 1831, the Carly’s Grove gang, a local group of ruffians, challenged Lincoln to a wrestling match. It was no contest, according to New Salem resident Thompson G. Onstott: Lincoln ”threw [Jack Armstrong, the gang’s leader] heels over head and gave him a fall hard enough to break every bone in his body.” Armstrong, however, harbored no ill feelings toward Lincoln—in fact, the gang leader respected Abe so much after the deftly-fought match that the two later became lifelong friends.
6. Lincoln could play the mouth harp. According to Lincoln historian Weldon Petz, he even played it during one of the famous 1858 Lincoln/Douglas debates.
7. Lincoln had a great sense of humor and loved to tell funny stories and jokes, even in Cabinet meetings. Said David R. Locke,of Lincoln’s sense of humor: “His flow of humor was a sparkling spring gushing out of a rock – the flashing water had a somber background which made it all the brighter. Whenever merriment came over that wonderful countenance it was like a gleam of sunshine upon a cloud – it illuminated, but did not dissipate.”
Hugh McCullogh, the then-Treasury Secretary, noted that Lincoln used humor to diffuse the tension that hung over the White House during the Civil War. He called Lincoln’s “habit of story-telling…[a] part of his nature, and he gave free rein to it, even when the fate of the nation seemed to be trembling in the balance.
Lincoln’s law partner William H. Herndon summed it up best: “In the role of a story-teller I regard Mr. Lincoln as without an equal. His power of mimicry and his manner of recital were unique. His countenance and all his features seemed to take part in the performance. As he neared the pith or point of the story every vestige of seriousness disappeared from his face. His gray eyes sparkled; a smile seemed to gather up, curtain-like, the corners of his mouth; his frame quivered with suppressed excitement; and when the nub of the story – as he called it – came, no one’s laugh was heartier than his.”
8. Lincoln once jumped out of a window to prevent the state Legislature from voting to close the State Bank. On December 5, 1840, the Democrats proposed an early adjournment of the legislative session, knowing this would effectively kill the State Bank. Lincoln and the other Whigs, who opposed the measure, knew the Democrats couldn’t get anything done if both parties weren’t in attendance. The Whigs tried to open the doors and leave, but the doors were locked, so Lincoln opened the second story window and jumped out. (His attempts to distract the crowd by acting like Spiderman didn’t work—the Bank eventually closed).
9. Lincoln was rather gauche when it came to the ladies. His wife Mary Todd remembered their first meeting at a society ball. Reportedly Lincoln walked up to her and said, “Miss Todd, I want to dance with you in the worst way.”
“And he did,” Mary later recalled.
10. Lincoln constantly poked fun at his appearance. Walt Whitman, an ardent admirer of the President, wrote in 1863, “I think well of the President. He has a face like a Hoosier Michael Angelo, so awful ugly it becomes beautiful with its strange mouth, its deep cut, criss-cross lines, and its doughnut complexion.” Lincoln didn’t quite agree with Whitman’s poetic flattery. Once after his Democratic opponent Stephen Douglas accused him of being two-faced, Lincoln quipped, “If I had two faces, would I be wearing this one?”
OMG I KNOOOOOW! DDL LOOKS JUST LIKE LINCOLN! HOW DOES HE DO THAT??? AND THE REST OF THE CAST?? GBLKBALFGLDIUGH OSCARS EVERYWHERE.
OSCARS EVERYWHERE, INDEED.
Biopics are my favorite in the whole wide world. This is so exciting. This is the most exciting thing ever. Because he DOES look just like him. It’s freaking me out. It’s like they found actual footage of Lincoln doin’ stuff.
IN THE 19TH CENTURY.
I AM GOING TO PEE ON EVERYTHING. I AM SO EXCITED.
OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH.
I JUST SAW THE TRAILER FOR SPIELBERG’S LINCOLN AND OH MY GAAAAAAAAAAH.
IS IT NOVEMBER YET?!?!
No, you don’t understand. Lincoln is my favorite. I love him. I am obsessed with him. My bookshelf is filled with Lincoln crap.
GOOD LINCOLN CRAP.
NOT THE LITERAL KIND OF CRAP BECAUSE HOLY EW, THAT WOULD BE GROSS.
ALSO, WHERE WOULD YOU EVEN GET LINCOLN CRAP? THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE.
WHICH IS A GOOD THING BECAUSE I DON’T THINK LINCOLN WOULD APPRECIATE HIS CRAP CIRCULATING EVERYWHERE.
ACTUALLY, HE WAS A PRETTY COOL GUY SO HE’D PROBABLY THINK IT WAS HILARIOUS.