Lincoln Movie Discussion Questions

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'Lincoln' is a 2012 biopic by Steven Spielberg about President's Lincoln's ethical dilemmas during the American Civil War. The resource offers discussion questions about 'Lincoln.'


Steven Spielberg's Lincoln offers insight into the internal and external conflicts faced by President Abraham Lincoln as he faced political pressure and a rising death toll during the American Civil War. Ending the war early would save lives, but would mean that Lincoln could not act on his conscience regarding the end of slavery. The following questions can be used to lead classroom discussions about this movie.

The Anti-Slavery Movement

  • Describe the battle in the opening scene. How were Civil War battles similar and different from modern battles? Describe Lincoln's relationship with the soldiers. What do these interactions reveal about Lincoln?
  • How do black soldiers contribute to the war effort? Why are the stakes higher for black soldiers? What are some rights black soldiers achieved during the war? What are some rights they hope to achieve? What progress on civil rights issues has been made since this time? What are some areas where our country needs to continue to progress?
  • Upon his reelection, why does Lincoln feel that a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery is urgent? Why wasn't the Emancipation Proclamation sufficient? Mrs. Lincoln advises her husband against pursuing the 13th Amendment. Why? What are some things that are worth risking popularity for?
  • What are some of the reasons people support and oppose the antislavery movement? What fears do people have about what will happen to the black community after the war? Are these fears justified? Explain your answer. What are some examples of fear preventing progress in modern times?

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