In 1991, when construction crews digging at the corner of Broadway and Reade Street came upon a colonial-era cemetery known as “Negros Burial Ground,” much was made of the find’s archaeological significance. Familiar to historians, the site entombed slaves and free blacks, as well as American Revolutionary War Prisoners. But scholars hadn’t, up until then, had any notion of how much of the burial ground remained.
“The mind-boggling thing about this site is that so many research areas have been opened,” Michael Parrington, a New Jersey-based archaeologist, told the New York Times. The paper’s report, however, had little to say on the subject of memorial. There were murmurs about removal of remains to the Trinity churchyard, in Harlem, and discussion of a permanent exhibit to occupy the lobby of the building—a 974,000-square-foot, $276 million federal office tower—that had been planned for the site, but little else.
We mean, we hope we are misreading this listing under the “barter” section, but we’re pretty sure that this Rockland County family is basically advertising their need for a slave. Or maybe an old-timey hobo? We don’t know, you decide.
Okay. So Lincoln, Steven Spielberg’s bloated $50-million history lesson about Abraham Lincoln’s final days in office as he attempted, by hook or crook, to abolish slavery, is noble, civic-minded, exhaustingly researched, immaculately detailed, crowded with a parade of cameos by good actors who look like Smith Brothers cough drop models, and noteworthy for another critic-proof performance by Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role. It is all of those things. But Lincoln is also a colossal bore. It is so pedantic, slow-moving, sanitized and sentimental that I kept pinching myself to stay awake—which, like the film itself, didn’t always work.
The Civil War is in its fourth year. Lincoln has already signed his famous Emancipation Proclamation, a year before his re-election to a second term. Now he wants an anti-slavery amendment to guarantee that the slaves he freed will stay that way forever, protected by law. He needs votes from a hostile, divided Congress to pass it. That means getting the support of Democrats—rabid right-wing conservatives in those days—as well as liberal, left-wing Republicans. (How times have changed!) And that’s what Lincoln is about.