“Surrender won't be thought of unless you've assured us, in writing, that we'll be readmitted in time to block this amendment.” So declares Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens at a crucial turning point in the movie “Lincoln.” The scene depicted was the shipboard Hampton Roads “peace conference” between Abraham Lincoln and three southern commissioners in February 1865, in which the leadership of the two belligerents unsuccessfully attempted to end the raging Civil War. In Steven Spielberg’s biopic the impasse revolves around the recently adopted 13th Amendment. “Slavery, sir, it's done,” answers Lincoln as the Confederate leadership storms out of the cabin, rendering the conference a failure.
Phillip Magness | All Articles
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Phillip W. Magness is a historian of slavery and the American Civil War, based at George Mason University. He is the co-author of Colonization After Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement, along with numerous other works on the Lincoln presidency and the 19th-century United States.