At one point in the movie Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who was not known for his sense of tact [or sense of humor], complains that they’re about to be subjected to yet another of the President’s stories.
Was Speilberg’s Stanton behaving in character? Well, listen to the following and you be the judge:
According to Stanton, just before he announced the draft Emancipation Proclamation, Mr. Lincoln "was reading a book of some kind, which seemed to amuse him. It was a little book. He finally turned to us and said: 'Gentlemen, did you ever read anything from Artemus Ward? Let me read you a chapter that is very funny.'
“Not a member of the Cabinet smiled; as for myself, I was angry, and looked to see what the President meant. It seemed to me like buffoonery. He, however, concluded to read us a chapter from Artemus Ward, which he did with great deliberation, and, having finished, laughed heartily, without a member of the Cabinet joining in the laughter.
“'Well,' he said, 'let's have another chapter,' and he read another chapter, to our great astonishment.
“I was considering whether I should rise and leave the meeting abruptly, when he threw his book down, heaved a sigh, and said: 'Gentlemen, why don't you laugh? With the fearful strain that is upon me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die, and you need this medicine as much as I do.'"
I don’t think Stanton agreed!