It deals with Lincoln near the end of the Civil War and the struggle to pass the Thirteenth Amendment. It shows the political back game in trying to accomplish something like this. Many of the players had to compromise their positions to make the amendment a reality. It was too much change for some, and not enough change for others, but in the end, Lincoln is able to convince enough of them that it is the right thing to do.
Lincoln deals with his own internal struggles. He uses the argument that passage of the amendment will hasten the end of the war. At the same time, the South is showing signs of wanting to talk peace. Peace would mean an end to fighting but would not preserve the Union nor end slavery.
Lincoln suffers from the loss of life. He visits the hospitals and the battlefields, sees the maimed and the dead. He wants nothing more than an end to this fighting but he is driven by one over riding belief, that this country cannot endure without freedom for all people. In the end, he hides the peace overtures from congress, gets passage of the amendment, and the war does come to a swift end.
Passage of the amendment frees the slaves forever and brings not just peace talks but surrender, and with it, a reunification process of the North and the South that saves the Union.
The Emancipation Proclamation was enacted by Lincoln under his role as commander in chief and freed the slaves in the Southern states. It did not free the Border state slaves and it's legality after the war would have been questionable.
The Thirteenth Amendment is clean and simple:
- Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.