Daily Archives: December 22, 2012

Grant’s Indian in Spielberg’s Lincoln

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln takes history seriously.  While some of the details may be contrived – there is no record of black Union Army soldiers being assigned to greet the Confederate commissioners en route to negotiate a peace treaty – the film for the most part follows fact scrupulously.  Much of the dialogue is based on contemporary letters and journalistic accounts.

Spielberg’s obsession with historical accuracy extends even to background.

In two scenes featuring General Grant, viewers will notice standing behind him the silent, striking presence of an American Indian in the uniform of a Union Army officer. 


(Parker, left, in film)

He is not there for setting.  The man depicted is Ely Parker, a lawyer, engineer, life-long friend of Grant, and full-blooded Seneca, whose life story would justify a movie of its own. 

It deserves telling.

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Filed under Culture, Law