So what extra could be stated approximately Lincoln the former president that hasn’t already been said?
CNN become undaunted and determined to do a deep dive on a man who is quoted with the aid of politicians of all political stripes, Lincoln from Nancy Pelosi to Donald Trump. Called “Lincoln: Divided We Stand,” the six-part series debuts at 10 p.m. Lincoln Sunday, Feb. 14 on CNN.
The fact is most Americans have now not read these books and may understand Lincoln most effective in extensive strokes: he become tall, he wore a black pinnacle hat, he become nicknamed “Honest Abe,” he freed enslaved people.
Executive manufacturer Jon Hirsch, who previously worked with CNN on a series about the Pope, said even as he and his fellow producer Nancy Glass had been brainstorming ideas, she stated her husband Charles Lachman’s book about the tumultuous history of Lincoln’s circle of relatives after he changed into assassinated, resulting in no direct residing descendants nowadays.
“There was a lean-in second,” Hirsch stated. “What else don’t we know approximately Lincoln? I commenced riffing. I’m a bit of an American history nerd.”
To Hirsch, “due to the manner Lincoln died and the timing in which he died, he gets trapped in amber. We see him on this very simplistic manner. Our records books in essential and center faculty display a sanitized version of Lincoln.”
For one, he said, a lot of Lincoln’s earlier viewpoints approximately Blacks could fit within the white supremacist playbook of nowadays. He became now not an abolitionist before the Civil War.
For sure, in the 1840s and 1850s, he changed into morally opposed to slavery and did not need it expanding into new territories. But he also desired freed slaves to leave America for South America and Africa. He involved that millions of freed slaves might create undue competition inside the labor market with white men.
But after he made the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, with guidance from human beings like abolitionist Frederick Douglass, he sooner or later noticed Blacks as people who deserved to fight for his or her personal freedom. About 2 hundred,000 Blacks ultimately joined the Union army forces and helped them win the conflict.
“Lincoln began to see freedom didn’t imply whatever with out equality,” Hirsch stated. “That is in which I assume Lincoln made his biggest soar: to push for Blacks to have the proper to vote, hold workplace and very own assets.”
Hirsch, who has study as a minimum 2 hundred of the 15,000-plus Lincoln books, additionally desired to ensure the collection covers Lincoln’s private travails, which includes his battles with despair and the way devastating it become for him to lose his mom and sister at a younger age. He even wrote poetry later in life that addressed his non-public ache.
This trauma, Hirsch said, superior Lincoln’s capability to convey compassion to the households of fallen infantrymen. “The way he communicated with those households and reached out to them was so brilliant,” he stated.
The collection additionally delves into his personal relationships of which there is some dispute amongst students. Those differences pop up in the series.
William Herndon, a former Lincoln regulation associate, wrote an early bio about him and fashioned a story that become less than flattering approximately Lincoln’s spouse Mary Todd. “Some people consider a number of the ones unique Lincoln memories which have shaped history books are embellished to embarrass Mary Todd Lincoln,” Hirsch stated.
The collection uses plenty of academic specialists and a surprise appearance with the aid of fellow records nerd and communicate-sLincoln how host Conan O’Brien, who discusses Lincoln’s sense of humor.
“Lincoln changed into frequently vilified for making light of conditions, however he used to mention, ‘Without humor, I would absolutely die,’ “ Hirsch stated. “He was very clever how he used humor to win over crowds. It helped him throughout the Lincoln-Douglas debates.”
The former president is also shown to be ever-evolving throughout his life.
“He had a outstanding potential for exchange,” Hirsch stated. “His willingness to listen to his critics and take what they have been saying and analyze from them, then observe them in politically savvy, strategic methods. He become compelling, humble, smart, humorous and an absolute beast when it came to paintings ethic.”
At the identical time, “he did what a whole lot of successful people do all through history: he surrounded himself with folks who had different experiences than he did, who should offer him with differing viewpoints.”
And considering that this become nicely earlier than the age of video and audio, Lincoln’s writing took on more significance. Fortunately, Lincoln was a exquisite writer. “His stuff is so masterfully built and the language he chose resonated in so many methods,” Hirsch stated. “It’s not simply the Gettysburg Address. It’s within the letters to widows, to fallen soldiers.”
The series shot re-enactments in and round Philadelphia, wherein Hirsch is based, and the region had plenty of backdrops and venues that convincingly evoked the 1800s. They employed a Broadway theater actor and previous basketball player Gabriel Chytry to duplicate Lincoln in height, stature and body language. The re-enactments are shot in wide, visually impressionistic ways. You by no means hear Lincoln’s voice and the producers seldom hone in on the actor’s face. Instead, they use actor Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”) as the narrator to cite Lincoln.
The CNN series affords extraordinary nuances to Lincoln’s individual however still in large part paints him in a superb light and his writing, Hirsch said, “affords fodder for each liberals and conservatives.”
If there was one constancy throughout his presidency, it turned into his deep choice to unify the nation. And the debates about equality and rights from that generation still resonate in 2021, Hirsch said.
At the time of his demise, his efforts to create a extra fair and simply united states had been a long way from finished. A century and a 1/2 later, Hirsch stated, “We’re not there but.”
Edna Medford, a records professor at Howard University with deep understanding of Lincoln, instructed Hirsch that “with regards to where we were and the journey we’ve long past through and in which we’re now, Lincoln could be most upset through how little has changed. It’s sad. It’s also real.”
WHERE Lincoln TO WATCH
“Lincoln: Divided We Stand,” 10 p.m. Sundays, CNN, starting Feb. 14 and at the CNN app (though you’ll ought to subscribe to an present cable, satellite tv for pc or streaming carrier that provides CNN to get admission to it)