Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) is of course correct that the Connecticut congressmen depicted in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” as opposing the 13th Amendment actually voted for it [“Yankee in Oscar’s snake pit,” Reliable Source, Style, Feb. 12].
However, Connecticut in 1865 was not exactly the land of racial equality that his remarks suggest. Although Connecticut had abolished slavery decades earlier, at the time of the Civil War Connecticut was alone among the New England states in denying free black males the right to vote. Connecticut ratified the 13th Amendment in 1865 only after all the Northern states east of the Mississippi did so, except for New Hampshire and New Jersey. Even after the amendment’s ratification, Connecticut continued to deny African Americans the right to vote, and black suffrage did not come to the Nutmeg State until the Constitution’s 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870.