REFLECTIONS ON "JACKIE": PART IV
Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) JFK+50 begins the year 2017 with a review of "Jackie" starring Natalie Portman. "Jackie" is a Fox Searchlight Pictures film directed by Pablo Larrain. The screenplay was written by Noah Oppenheim. Released on December 2, 2016, the movie has an "R" rating and lasts 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Moving forward in the film to the First Lady's bedroom at the White House. The camera moves in close on an etching of the funeral procession of President Abraham Lincoln.
Mrs. Kennedy's cultural adviser, Bill Walton, is tracing the route as he says....
"Lincoln's funeral catafalque departed the White House and progressed along Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol. The next day it returned to the White House, and then they walked all the way to St Matthew's in a long, grand procession.
It was a sunny spring day. Only 600 tickets were allotted, but thousands lined the streets and rooftops. Citizens, Senators, Congressmen, Diplomats and Officers--all in their full dress uniform.
Lincoln's mount, 'Old Bob,' was draped in a black blanket with white trim and tassels. Hooded, he was led riderless at the head of a miles-long procession..."
Jackie, looking at a painting of Lincoln's casket lying in state, says...
"We must get this right, Bill. We must get this right. It has to be beautiful."
And get it right they did. It was beautiful. A lasting tribute to the 35th President of the United States, but the script writer didn't get it right....historically, that is.
JFK+50 noted something amiss in watching this scene in the movie. We had never heard that there was a "walk all the way to St. Matthew's" in the Lincoln funeral procession in Washington. After all, Mr. Lincoln was not Catholic. Why would they take his remains there?
We first contacted Civil War scholar Dr. James Robertson, Jr. of Virginia Tech University on this issue. Dr. Robertson served President Kennedy on the Civil War Centennial Commission and was assigned the task of researching information for JFK''s funeral. Here is his response...
"The best sources on Lincoln are unanimous in stating that the President's remains went from the East Room, down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, where Lincoln lay in state. On April 19, the body was taken from the Capitol to the train station for the long ride home."
We also talked with Lincoln Curator, Dr. James Cornelius, of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Dr. Cornelius verifies that Lincoln's body was NOT taken to St. Matthews. There was no church service for the President in Washington. The first service was held at the White House and then he was transported in a procession to the Capitol to lie in state. A final funeral service was held in Springfield, Illinois.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Dr. James Cornelius, Curator, Telephone Conversation, January 4, 2017.
"Jackie-Screenplay," by Script Pipeline, www.scriptpipeline.com/
Virginia Tech University, Dr. James Robertson, Jr. History Department.