Courtney chides Spielberg for Connecticut slander

Like many Connecticut moviegoers, at least those who are politically minded, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, was surprised to see two members of the state’s House delegation depicted as voting to uphold slavery in Steven Spielberg’s well-received movie, “Lincoln.”

“I could not believe my own eyes and ears,” Courtney wrote in a letter to Spielberg. “How could Congressmen from Connecticut — a state that supported President Lincoln and lost thousands of her sons fighting against slavery on the Union side of the Civil War-have been on the wrong side of history?”

They didn’t.

No Connecticut congressman voted against the 13th Amendment banning slavery, despite Spielberg’s version. It is one of many details that historians have challenged, even as they generally praise the film.

Courtney is asking the director to do some editing to restore the good names of the four-member Connecticut delegation of 1865: Augustus Brandegee of New London, James English of New Haven, Henry Deming of Colchester and John Henry Hubbard of Salisbury.

“I understand that artistic license will be taken and that some facts may be blurred to make a story more compelling on the big screen, but placing the State of Connecticut on the wrong side of the historic and divisive fight over slavery is a distortion of easily verifiable facts and an inaccuracy that should be acknowledged, and if possible, corrected before Lincoln is released on DVD.”

Other than the affront to his predecessors, Courtney liked the movie.

“After finally sitting down to watch your Academy Award-nominated film, Lincoln, I can say unequivocally that the rave reviews are justified: Daniel Day-Lewis is tremendous, the story is compelling and consuming, and the cinematography is beautiful,” Courtney wrote. “The historical accuracy of the film’s moving conclusion, however? Well, that is a different story.”

Too bad Courtney didn’t think to copy his letter to the current chairman and chief executive of the Motion Picture Association of America. Doesn’t he know something about Connecticut politics?