The History Channel's LINCOLN mixes fact with innuendo, gossip and smear.
Abraham Lincoln's sexual identity is questioned because he shared an illness (depression) and thus a friendship with Joshua Speed. It's implied in this documentary that their several surviving correspondences were love letters, although nothing within these texts even hints at carnality. Much is made of Speed offering to share his bed when Lincoln had no place to sleep. Further casually presented "proof" is an unsubstantiated allegation that the President was caught asleep at the Soldier's Home in D.C. accompanied by a captain, who was wearing Lincoln's nightshirt at the time.
Yet, we have conflicting stories of opposite behavior.
It's suggested that soon after ending his first engagement with Mary, Abe visits a riverside madam. He haggles her price down and when they're finished, she makes it a "freebie," proving (in the opinion of a commenter) the man's absolute charm and thus a good reason he was later elected president!!!
The First Lady (Mary) is said to have furnished her lavish Washington lifestyle with bribes and kickbacks. No definitive documentation given here either, beyond a nice coat of tar.
Our main theme is a lifelong melancholia that first manifested at age nine after young Abe saw his mother suffer for a week and die from tainted milk. His father reportedly slapped the boy around and rented him out as slave labor. A conclusion is made that herein lies the source of Abraham's hatred of this "peculiar institution." No mention at all of his ambivalent remarks on the slavery issue. After every major battle, the President is said to have talked of suicide or wished for death. No specific references given, although this seems quite possible. Those thousands of dead surely weighed heavily on the Chief Executive.
More tabloid stuff: Grieving Lincoln regularly visited son Willie's mausoleum and opened the casket to see his boy's face. Somehow I missed that in Carl Sandburg's many books on this great man.
Sensationalism aside, this over two-hour presentation is not free of minor naccuracies. For one, Gore Vidal describes the President's assassin as shooting him from behind with a revolver. In fact, John Booth's weapon was a two-shot derringer of no more than four-inches length. I saw this very pistol plus Lincoln's blood-stained clothes in the late 1970s, on display at Ford's Theater. Maybe Mr. Vidal missed that exhibit when he was researching his Lincoln novel?