"Before proceeding, let me say I think I have no prejudice against the Southern people. They are just what we would be in their situation."
That's Lincoln, 1854, in a speech at Peoria, IL, where he stood to oppose the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, a law passed already in 1820 that essentially banned slavery in most of what was becoming the State of Missouri. With the Dred Scott decision, his side of the argument went down to defeat. Then came the Civil War.
Granted, he's saying what he does in 1854 and not 1864, in the middle of the carnage; but I can't help but be amazed at his honest acceptance of the nobility of those he still roundly condemned.
We may well make too much of him, of Lincoln, I mean. Were I born and reared south of Mason-Dixon, I'd likely see him far more shadowy than I do; and Spielberg's Lincoln makes him as human as you and me.
But there's something large and all-encompassing in that confession, something, to me at least, that's worth it weight in awe. I don't think it fudges on principle, nor does it simply see human beings as shaped exclusively by their environments. It acknowledges that we're all human--no more, no less.
We're not, any of us, all that different, for good or ill. The dark legacy of the Fall is somewhere within every one of us, but so is the divine image of Him who gave us life.