NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Dukes
The film opens with a scripture from the Bible, Genesis 17:5 “Your name will be Abraham, for I have made you father of many nations.”
Lincoln’s voice says, “History prefers legends to men, nobility to brutality, soaring speeches to quiet deeds. History remembers the battles, but forgets the blood. If history remembers me at all, it will only be a fraction of the truth.” Lincoln explains that he is leaving his journal to his friend Henry because the journal bears the entirety of the truth.
Cut to Pigeon Creek, Indiana, 1818. Abraham Lincoln is a little boy playing on a dock. Nearby, Lincoln’s friend Will (who is black) is attacked by a slave boss. Lincoln jumps up to help but his father says to stay out of it. Lincoln doesn’t listen and his father is forced to step in and throw the slave boss in the river. Jack Barts (Marton Csokas), the head of the plantation, fires Lincoln’s father and demands that he pay the debt he owes in full. Lincoln’s father says, “I’m not giving you another cent.” Barts says, “There’s more than one way to collect a debt.”
That night, Lincoln is up late reading. He is lying in the loft above his parents’ bed, and when he hears a noise he looks down and sees Barts crouching over his sleeping mother. The next morning, Lincoln’s mother has a bite mark on her wrist and she’s extremely ill. She dies shortly after.
Cut to 9 years later. Lincoln’s father has also died, leaving Lincoln free to pursue his vengeance on Barts. Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) is drinking in a bar when the man on the adjacent stool says, “A fellow only gets that drunk when he wants to kiss a girl or kill a man. So which is it?” He claps Lincoln on the shoulder and a gun falls out of Lincoln’s coat. Lincoln grabs the gun and stumbles away.
Lincoln hangs around the docks until he spots Barts. He tries to shoot Barts in the head, but his gun misfires. Barts slams Lincoln to the ground, and Lincoln scrambles to reload. He shoots Barts right in the eye. Lincoln walks away, shocked that he has finally gotten his revenge, but suddenly Barts is in front of him, hissing with a huge mouthful of fangs. Barts is about to rip Lincoln’s throat out when he’s attacked from behind by the man from the bar. Barts disappears, and Lincoln wakes up in a strange bed.
Lincoln hears screaming and grabs a fire poker and bursts into the next room. The man from the bar is naked in the bath with a pretty girl (the screams were orgasmic, not violent). When the man is finished with his bath, he introduces himself as Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper). He says, “You didn’t even know Barts was a vampire, did you? Well, they exist. They’re everywhere.”
Lincoln says, “Teach me to fight them like you do.” Henry says, “You’ll have to commit to the life of a hunter. No friends, no family. And you don’t pick the targets, I do.” Lincoln agrees to whatever Henry says because he’s so eager to get revenge on Barts.
They begin training. Henry shows Lincoln an array of guns and asks which he prefers. Lincoln chooses an axe from the woodshed instead. At first Lincoln tries to power his blows with hatred, but Henry shows him how to use “truth” instead of rage. He also teaches Lincoln how to fight blind, since vampires can make themselves invisible. He tells Lincoln that silver is one of the only things that can kill vampires, and he covers Lincoln’s axe blade with melted silver.
Henry explains that the vampires in America are descended from a man named Adam (Rufus Sewell). Adam and his sister Vadoma (Erin Wasson) run a huge plantation in the south, since vampires like to feast on slaves. Henry says they have to keep the vampires in check, to ensure America “remains a nation of men, not monsters.”
Cut to Springfield, 1837. Abraham Lincoln has moved to Springfield to study law and hunt vampires. He is offered a room and a job by the shopkeeper, Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson). While working in the shop, he meets a pretty girl named Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Mary is also being courted by Stephen Douglas (Alan Tudyk).
Henry sends Lincoln a letter naming his first vampire target, the local pharmacist. Lincoln heads to the pharmacy to kill the vamp, but the pharmacist opens a trap door and drops Lincoln into his killing room. Lincoln is hanging upside down amidst a host of drained corpses, and the pharmacist ties his hands and grabs a razor to slit Lincoln’s throat. Lincoln drops a knife from his belt and grabs it between his teeth, lunging forward to slash the pharmacist’s throat. He cuts his ropes and completes the kill, then buries the body.
When Lincoln returns to the shop, Speed tells him they’ve been invited to a ball at Douglas’ house. Speed distracts Douglas so Mary Todd can ask Lincoln to dance. Mary tells Lincoln she’s looking for adventure. He says she won’t find it with Douglas.
Henry sends Lincoln another letter naming the banker as a vampire. Lincoln heads over to the bank, but the banker can make himself invisible and he’s extremely hard to fight. Lincoln throws dust in the air so he can see where the banker is moving. He kills the banker, the blacksmith, and many others.
Lincoln is exhausted from his nocturnal endeavors and falls asleep in the middle of a picnic with Mary. She asks why he’s so tired and Lincoln tells her he’s been hunting vampires, but she thinks he’s joking and just laughs. On the way home, Mary tries to kiss Lincoln but he pulls away because he doesn’t want to put her in danger. It’s too late however, because Barts is already watching Mary’s house.
Meanwhile, on a plantation in New Orleans, Adam and Vadoma are reading the obituaries. They know someone is killing vampires in Springfield. “Another of Henry’s disciples,” Adam says, “I can’t wait to meet him.”
Back at the shop, a black man is looking for Lincoln. It’s Lincoln’s old friend Will (Anthony Mackie). Will says he needs Lincoln’s help Will has been freeing slaves via the Underground Railroad, but now he’s being chased by bounty hunters. Sure enough, the bounty hunters attack Will and when Lincoln fights them off, both Will and Lincoln are thrown in jail. Mary Todd pays their bail money. She tells Lincoln he should stand up for what’s right, no matter how hard it is. Lincoln starts giving political speeches, speaking out against slavery.
Henry comes to Springfield and tells Lincoln not to get distracted by politics. He gives Lincoln the gift of a silver pocket watch that says, “To A. Lincoln: Time waits for no man - Henry.” Henry says, “It’s time to kill Barts. He knows about Mary.”
Lincoln lies in wait to kill Barts, but this time Barts smells him coming. Barts sets off a stampede of horses, and a race through the stampeding herd ensues. Both Lincoln and Barts fall off the side of a cliff and Barts manages to grab Lincoln’s axe. But Barts doesn’t know the axe is also a gun, and Lincoln shoots Barts through the handle of the axe, hitting him in his one remaining eye. As Barts dies, he says, “There are thousands of us. We’ll be coming for you now. Ask your friend Henry.”
Cut to an alleyway where a drunk is harassing a prostitute. Henry appears and bites the drunk on the neck. Lincoln pulls Henry off the drunk and says, “You lying bastard.” Henry says, “You weren’t ready to know. You’re not the only one who has lost everything.”
Cut to a flashback of Henry with the girl he loved. They are kissing in a carriage when Adam rides up with a posse of vampires. Henry fights five or six vampires, but Adam slams him to the ground effortlessly. Henry’s lover jumps on Adam’s back, and Adam flings her aside. He bites Henry, then grabs Henry’s lover and drains her dry. Adam says, “Her soul is pure. Yours is not.” The girl dies, but Henry turns into a vampire. Henry tries to rip Adam to shreds, but it turns out that vampires can’t kill other vampires. Adam says, “Only the living can kill the dead. Welcome to the family.”
Back to Henry and Lincoln. Henry says, “You can’t save the ones you love and save the world. You need to make a choice.” Lincoln says, “I’m sorry Henry. Goodbye.”
Back in Springfield, Lincoln proposes to Mary and she accepts. They marry.
Meanwhile, Adam has recovered Barts’ body. In Barts’ hand is the silver pocket watch inscribed with Lincoln’s name. Adam sends Vadoma to Springfield to “invite Lincoln to a ball.” Vadoma kidnaps Will as bait and sends Lincoln an invitation to New Orleans.
Lincoln tells Speed about the vampires and the two of them head to New Orleans to rescue Will. When they arrive at the plantation, a group of slaves (including Will) are dancing with the slave masters. The music stops and Adam says “dinner is served.” The slave masters start devouring the slaves. Lincoln busts through the door to save Will, but Speed runs in the opposite direction. Lincoln slaughters a dozen or more vampires, before Vadoma knocks him flat. Adam demands that Lincoln kill Henry, or Adam will turn Lincoln into a vampire and murder Will.
Just then, Speed rides a horse and carriage through the window and snatches Lincoln and Will. They escape with the help of some local slaves.
Cut to Lincoln engaged in a political debate with Douglas. The topic is slavery, which Lincoln strongly opposes. He says, “Until every man is free, we are all slaves.” The crowd cheers.
After the debate, Henry tells Lincoln, “You’re putting everyone in danger. Slavery is what keeps the vampires sated.” Lincoln says, “Then you and I must part ways.” Lincoln puts his axe away. He says, “From now on I fight with words.”
Cut to Ft. Sumter, 1861. Lincoln is 50 years old. He has become president and war has broken out. He says, “I have become father of a nation that is tearing itself apart.” He signs the Emancipation Proclamation.
Lincoln has a child now, a son named Willy. The vampires have not forgotten him. Vadoma sneaks into his house and bites his son. She leaves the silver pocket watch lying in his son’s toys. Henry appears and offers to turn Willy into a vampire so he won’t die. Mary is listening and she begs Henry to do it. She has read Lincoln’s diaries and she knows the truth now. Lincoln refuses to let Henry turn Willy into a monster. Willy dies.
Henry wants Lincoln to make a truce with Adam, but Lincoln sends more troops into battle instead. Cut to the battle of Gettysburg, where Adam’s vampire troops are decimating the northern soldiers. Lincoln rages that their bullets are as useless as the fork he is using to eat his dinner. This gives him an epiphany. He instructs Speed to commandeer the silver from every home in the north. They melt the silver down to make bullets. Lincoln takes his axe out of storage.
Speed meets with Vadoma and tells her Lincoln’s plan. Speed says, “He’s my friend, but he’s tearing this country apart.”
Meanwhile, Lincoln has reconciled with Mary. He says, “I need you.” Mary says, “You don’t know how long I’ve waited to hear that.” Lincoln tells Mary she needs to evacuate their house. Mary meets with a local black woman, a freed slave, possibly Harriet Tubman, and talks about travel plans.
Lincoln and Speed plan to ship the silver to Gettysburg via train. Speed tells Adam the plan, and Adam gathers a posse of vampires to attack the train. On the way to the train, Vadoma spots Mary and the black woman fleeing the property. Vadoma tries to antagonize Mary, but Mary won’t respond. Adam says, “Leave her alone, we’re going to miss the train.” After the vampires ride off, a large group of freed slaves come out from the woods where they’ve been hiding and follow Mary down the road.
Meanwhile, on the train, Henry tells Lincoln that Speed is a traitor. He begs Lincoln to run before the vampires arrive. It’s too late the vampires attack the train, and Will helps Lincoln fight them off. They climb up on the roof to defend the train. Adam shows up and starts knocking Lincoln silly. He says, “I’m going to destroy the legend. History will remember you not as a man, but as a monster.” He’s about to bite Lincoln’s neck when Henry leaps between them. Adam and Henry fight inside the train until they knock over the crates and Adam sees they are full of rocks, not silver. Henry laughs.
Vadoma has lit the bridge on fire and the train is hurtling toward the inferno. Speed sets the train so it can’t be stopped. Adam is furious and kills Speed. Lincoln and Will race across the top of the train, while the cars fall off the bridge behind them. They are almost across the bridge when Adam grabs Lincoln and yells, “Where is the silver?” Lincoln wraps his pocket watch around his fist and says, “Right here!” He punches Adam in the guts with the silver watch. Adam falls into the fiery inferno of the collapsing bridge. Lincoln and Will leap to safety as Henry holds up the bridge. They see that Henry has survived as well. Henry says, “So where is the silver after all?” Will says, “This isn’t the only railroad.”
Mary and the slaves have taken the silver to Gettysburg via the Underground Railroad. Vadoma finds their camp and makes one last attempt to kill Mary, but Mary is waiting with a shotgun loaded with her son’s toy sword. She fires the silver sword into Vadoma’s forehead.
In the final battle of Gettysburg, the northern soldiers use the silver bullets to decimate the vampire troops. Lincoln gives the Gettysburg Address saying, “This nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom.”
Lincoln’s voice explains that following the battle of Gettysburg, the remaining vampires fled to Europe or South America or Asia. They knew that America was now a nation of living men, free men.
Cut to Lincoln’s office where Henry is trying to persuade Lincoln to become a vampire so they can continue accomplishing amazing things together. Lincoln says, “Vampires aren’t the only thing that live forever.” Mary calls Lincoln to come downstairs saying, “You better hurry, we’re going to be late for the theater.” Lincoln asks Henry to hold on to his journal for him.
Lincoln’s voice repeats the opening lines of the film: “If history remembers me at all, it will only be a fraction of the truth.”
Cut to the modern day. A man is sitting in a bar getting drunk. Henry sits on the adjacent stool. He says, “A guy only drinks like that if he’s planning to kiss a girl or kill a man. So which is it?” He slaps the guy on the back and a gun falls out of his pocket. It’s obvious that Henry is still recruiting vampire hunters.