Turkey, Football and Lincoln

Last weekend I took my Mom to see the Steven Spielberg movie “Lincoln.” If you’re looking for something in addition to turkey, football, and shopping this weekend, I gave the movie two thumbs up. The entire cast gives a great performance. Daniel Day Lewis is spot on as President Lincoln, and Tommy Lee Jones gives a great performance as Congressman Stevens. The main plot of the movie is how Lincoln worked with the house to get the 13thAmendment passed. Even though everyone watching “Lincoln” in the theater should know the ending (if they paid a little attention in high school history class) the theater was still on the edge of their seats during the house roll call vote. My Mom gasped during the no votes, as I jokingly reminded her that we already knew the ending.

It wasn’t a simple process to get the 13thAmendment passed abolishing slavery. There were a lot of backroom deals, and congressman who had to summon a lot of courage to vote in favor of passing it. I found many parallels in the film to what we are watching unfold these days in Washington. Despite all of the issues surrounding the economic impact, states’ rights, and cultural concerns, President Lincoln and Congress were able to get the amendment passed and then negotiate an end to the Civil War. The movie is a good reminder that the United States government “for the people and by the people” has found a way to compromise on huge issues, even if the process of getting there was ugly. Our country has had much more divisive periods of history than what we are witnessing today, and been able to work through it. Hopefully some of our elected officials in Washington also see the film this weekend and are inspired. Some sort of solution to the fiscal cliff issue would be a nice gift for the economy during the holidays.

A little trivia to share at your Thanksgiving table tomorrow – Lincoln was the first president to proclaim Thanksgiving an official holiday. Prior to his proclamation the date to observe Thanksgiving varied from state to state. Lincoln picked the final Thursday in November in an attempt to foster a sense of American unity between the North and South. If there was ever a year to remember that intention of American unity, this would be a good one.

Marisa A. Lenhard, CFA, CFP®