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Ron Pappalardo
speaker and author of Reconciled by the Light

A memoir by Ron Pappalardo

Author's Blog

Lincoln : the movie

Posted on December 22, 2012 at 12:55 AM

Recently, I saw the movie “Lincoln” at my local theater. While I thought the movie was well done from an artistic viewpoint, I couldn’t help being a bit disappointed. For one thing I thought the portrayal of the President’s wife as a nagging, threatening shrew was unfair, not believable, and a little over the top. But more than that, I regretted that the movie never answered the simple question – Why?


Why was President Lincoln so committed and determined to secure freedom for the slaves once and for all? What was the source of his strength and conviction? To answer this, the movie would have had to explore the President’s spirituality, and that was something it was unwilling to do.


Today, a reader on my Facebook page and a friend at a dinner party both told me they appreciated my latest book, “Reconciled by the Light Book II: Spirit Messages from a Teen Suicide, Adventures of a Psychic Medium,” because it answers the question “Why?” that the movie left them wondering about.


In the chapter entitled Abraham Lincoln Heeds the Call of Spirit, I point out that it is well documented that both the President and his wife were Spiritualists. That means that the Lincolns were adherents of a religion, widely popular at the time in both the United States and Great Britain, which believed in life after death, and that it was possible and commonplace for communication to take place between Heaven and Earth.


As a result, both the President and Mrs. Lincoln made extensive use of the services of mediums, those gifted individuals who have the sensitivity to convey messages between the living and those who have moved on to the world of spirit.


At one of these séances, held in the White House in the presence of witnesses such as Congressman Daniel Somes of Maine, the Lincolns requested that a young trance medium by the name of Nettie Colburn do a reading for them. She had been visiting Washington in hopes of acquiring a medical furlough for her ailing brother who was serving in the Union army.


When Miss Colburn went into trance, she conveyed a message from a male spiritual presence that uttered “almost divine commands.” The spirit exhorted President Lincoln to go through with the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation, urging him to “stand firm to his convictions and fearlessly perform the work and fulfill the mission for which he had been raised up by an overruling Providence.”


After the message, Congressman Somes asked the president, “…whether there has been any pressure brought to bear upon you to defer the enforcement of the Proclamation.”

“…It is taking all my nerve and strength to withstand such a pressure,” President Lincoln replied.


Afterwards, the president turned to Nettie and laid his hand upon her head.

“My child,” he said, “you possess a singular gift; but that it is a gift from God I have no doubt. I thank you for coming here tonight. It is more important than perhaps anyone present can understand.”


Later, when the time for enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation came due, President Lincoln ignored those urging him to defer it, and went ahead and freed the slaves.


At another séance held a few months later, President Lincoln was urged by Spirit to visit the Union troops at the front line with his family. He followed this advice immediately; the result was a dramatic restoration of morale among the troops.


You can read the whole record of Lincoln’s participation in spirit communication by reading Nettie Colburn Maynard’s memoir, Was Abraham Lincoln a Spiritualist?: or Curious Revelations From the Life of a Trance Medium, which was published in 1891.


I’m not sure why this part of the story was left out. I know that director Stephen Spielberg is not afraid of the subject of spiritualism. After all, he produced the movie Hereafter, which is an excellent exploration of the subject of spirit communication and mediumship.


I’m just guessing, but I think it more likely that it has to do with the fact that the Lincoln movie used historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book as its main source, and I don’t get the impression she is very sympathetic to the spiritualist part of the story.


Whatever the reason, it’s a sad omission. If we are ever to reverse the moral decline of our culture and revive the spiritual health of our people, we are going to have to invest our resources in reacquainting newer generations of Americans with the profound spiritual heritage that is at the root of America’s founding, development, and success.


The movie Lincoln was a golden opportunity that was missed.

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