After the amendment passes, abolitionist Rep. Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) remarks that the measure succeeds because of "corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America."
Much of what Lincoln and his lieutenants pulled may be illegal today in California.
Hinting, winking, speaking in code are all legal. Offering a quid pro quo — something of value for a vote — is not. That's bribery.
In the 1980s, the FBI conducted a Sacramento sting that led to 14 convictions involving political payoffs. Five of those nabbed were lawmakers.
"In this day and age, you have to be careful," says political attorney Steve Merksamer, chief of staff to former Gov. George Deukmejian. "That's not to say that governors, when in the process of building Cabinets or making other appointments, don't have feelings and don't remember who were nasty to them — as well as people who have been responsive to their leadership.
"That's just human nature."
Same thing with bill signings and vetoes. Reward friends and punish enemies.
Gov. Jerry Brown's father, legendary Gov. Pat Brown, was a master of deal-making. It's how he got the state water project built.
Key jobs and judgeships were paid out. Some small recreational lakes were built to satisfy one influential assemblywoman.
Jerry Brown has been much less of a deal maker, perhaps still rebelling against his dad's old-fashioned politics.
Last year, Brown failed to cut a deal with Republicans to place a proposed tax extension on the ballot. Each side blamed the other. The end result was that the governor hit up special interests for millions of dollars to collect voter signatures for the tax increase Californians ultimately passed.
Brown did see the movie, calling it "extraordinary." He was particularly impressed with Lincoln's "preternatural skill" in working the congressmen. Let's hope the governor picked up a few pointers.