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Case Number 23474: Small Claims Court

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Lincoln's Secret Weapon

PBS // 2000 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 10th, 2012

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson was surprised to learn that Lincoln's secret weapon was, in fact, a gun turret that popped out of his stovepipe hat.

The Charge

The world's first ironclad warship.

The Case

You gotta love Abraham Lincoln. The man just did what had to be done to preserve the Union. And whether that was mass conscription, suspension of habeas corpus, or building gigantic terrifying metal warships, so be it. Lincoln was not going to be denied. This guy was a stud!

In 1862, two ships went at it in a big way, off the coast of Virginia. On one side is the CSS Virginia, the Confederacy's massively armored ship of death. To counter this impressive weapon, Lincoln dispatched his own plated creation, the USS Monitor, clad with impenetrable steel and featuring such cutting-edge weaponry as revolving gun turrets and, I suspect (though completely unsubstantiated)…lasers.

During this legendary nautical face-off, the two ships pummeled each other to a draw. A year later, the Monitor sunk off the coast of North Carolina, which brings us to the second part of this feature: the diving recovery of the vessel.

Lincoln's Secret Weapon presents an interesting juxtaposition: telling the story of the USS Monitor in its historical context, while documenting the trials and travails of the diving expedition. In truth, the feature is more focused on the dive than it is blasting out the history. If anything, the backstory serves as a supplement to what the recovery team is trying to accomplish.

But don't let that deter to you, history fans. Lincoln's Secret Weapon is top-notch, with some harrowing diving moments. And for teachers? This DVD is a godsend!

The specs: standard definition full frame, 2.0 Dolby stereo, and a printable teacher's guide.

The Verdict

Not Guilty. You know what's not a secret? Abraham Lincoln was a bad mother—Shut yo mouth!.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 85

Perp Profile

Studio: PBS
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Historical
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Teacher's Guide


• IMDb
• PBS Nova

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