Rep. Joe Courtney
Rep. Joe Courtney CTMirror file photo

Washington – On the 150 anniversary of the approval of the 13th Amendment, Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, wants Connecticut schoolchildren to know that state lawmakers did NOT vote against the measure that abolished slavery, even though the Steven Spielberg movie ‘Lincoln’ says they did.

So Courtney has compiled a “resource guide” for the state’s teachers to “set the record straight.”

Courtney tangled with Spielberg nearly two years ago, shortly after ‘Lincoln’ was released, because it showed that two of Connecticut’s three members of Congress voted against the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery.

In fact, on Jan. 31, 1865, all four of Connecticut’s House members — from New London, Colchester, New Haven and Salisbury — voted in favor of the amendment that had been approved by the Senate the year before and was ratified by the states before the year was out.

Courtney won national attention by demanding Spielberg correct the error in the movie before it was released in DVD. The director did not.

Courtney’s resource guide includes biographies of the four Connecticut lawmakers who voted for the 13th Amendment and their floor speeches, published in the Congressional Globe, a predecessor to the Congressional Record. The resource guide also contains Courtney’s letter to Spielberg.

“The first time I watched ‘Lincoln,’ I was stunned to see that Connecticut’s representatives had seemingly voted to uphold slavery — a position that did not square with my knowledge of Connecticut history,” Courtney said. “After some research, I learned that the four real representatives from our state had all cast votes to abolish slavery. Such a glaring misrepresentation — especially in a movie that included so many meticulously researched details — is bound to lead Connecticut viewers to question their state’s role in the abolition of slavery and the Civil War.”

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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