Steven Spielberg was in Washington on Tuesday evening as the National Archives as the org’s foundation honored him with its Records of Achievement Award, in part for “Lincoln” and other historical films.
David S. Ferriero, archivist of the United States, noted that Spielberg recognized the staff of the archives in the credits to “Lincoln.” Spielberg also was cited for “Saving Private Ryan,” “Amistad,” “The Color Purple” and “Schindler’s List,” as well as the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education.
Spielberg was given two facsimiles of records from the National Archives referred to as “the two 13th Amendments.” The first was an amendment, passed in 1861 but never ratified, which would have enshrined slavery into the Constitution. The second was the 13th Amendment signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1865 to abolish slavery forever. The story of the fight to pass the amendment was the basis for “Lincoln.”
At the archives, staff showed Spielberg the official 13th Amendment as well as Rep. Thaddeus Stevens’ 1861 joint resolution urging the abolition of slavery.
Among those at the event, held at the archives’ William G. McGowan Theater and the Rotunda Galleries, were FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), former Sen. Charles Robb and his wife Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, Ken Burns and Cokie Roberts. During the ceremony, Ken Burns held a conversation with Spielberg. The date also had special significance as it was the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg Address.