How America Misunderstands the Declaration of Independence

To make this era a bit more interesting I´ve decided to add this video about the Declaration of Independence. The video is filmed by a political theorist and a professor at Harvad University called Danielle Allen in the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival. She brings out the fact that the first printing of the declaration contained an error- there was a full stop in the middle of a long sentence and it should not have been there. As a result, the meaning behind the long sentence is altered just enough to create a misunderstanding of what the document meant to say and what it actually says. Danielle explains the change behind the meaning and what is its impact on Americans and why we should talk about that error. I found the video interesting and educational, I had no idea that the first printing had an error in it and while searching info for our notions, I did not find any talk about it either. In all honesty, it is a fun fact and even though how big of an impact it has had on America is debatable, I find it intriguing and fascinating so I had to add this to the blog.

The Review

” The Patriot” is quite different from the last film we watched, it is not a documentary so historically speaking its accuracy is far off from the reality. I will bring out just a couple of points were the film was a complete fragment of the writers imagination.

To start off with, I am bringing out this long statement from one of the reviews:


“The atrocities committed by Colonel Tavington and his troops are highly exaggerated. Though the real-life Banastre Tarleton was a ruthless and brutal officer, he never committed atrocities of the sort depicted in The Patriot. Tarleton enthusiastically burned the farms of suspected Patriots and summarily executed suspected guerrillas—on several occasions in front of their families. Dastardly as Tarleton’s actual behavior was, it pales in comparison to that of The Patriot’s Colonel Tavington. There is no evidence that Tarleton executed wounded Continentals, nor that he killed women and children. The British had a very practical motivation for not killing their Continental captives, as it would invite retaliation against British prisoners.” 

Link to the review:
https://historycooperative.org/journal/movie-review-the-patriot-2000/

I do agree with what is said in this quote. We saw a lot off gruel actions done by Colonel Tavington and while watching I already started second-guessing the truthfulness in those scenes. As it came out everything depicted in the movie was not the reality. From the historians, we know that a cruel and vile British Colonel Tarleton did exist and was a bit cruel in certain situations, but not an emotionless monster with no conscience. One of the worst actions he did was massacring Virginia Continentals in the Battle of Waxhaws after they had surrendered and shown a white flag. But historians now believe that there was a missunderstandig because somebody shot the Colonels horse and that lead his men to believe that Tarleton was murdered so the Brits started shooting the Continentals, killing and wounding most of them.(1)

Furthermore, the most horrible and tragic scene (in my opinion) in the film where a church full of villagers was burnt down was made up as well. There is no evidence that Banastre burned down any churches, not even the ones full off innocent people. I think that the scene was added to “The Patriot” as a way of manipulation to make the audience hate the British soldiers even more, specially Colonel Tavington. It was clear that the film was American-made as all Brits were egoistic, self-centered and awful persons all around while the Americans were brave, selfless and honest. Throughout “The Patriot” Americans are the heroes of the story and British the villains.(2)

Moving on, here is the second quote I am going to discuss over:


“HOLD THE F**KING PHONE. Not slaves? On a plantation in South Carolina in the 1770s or 1780s? Working for a wealthy white man? Bullshit. There were free black persons in the colonies, but to suggest that a man could establish himself in a sizable house, with a family of that size, become prominent enough to be elected to the colonial legislative body, and earn enough to support all of these things while also giving fair wages to free labor is fanciful at best.

Link to the review:
https://www.reddit.com/r/badhistory/comments/1iozh6/the_patriot_and_slavery/

To begin with, that was a portion of the film I quite honestly missed while watching it. After discussing the notions for Glory in the class I started wandering over the fact that during our first encounter with Colonel Tavington the workers on Benjamin´s field say that they are not slaves but free men working for Benjamin. We talked about how the South states were relying on slavery and why they were really against prohibiting slave trade in America. Taking all that into consideration there is absolutely no way that Mel Gibson´s character could have free black workers on his fields and be so honored while maintaining a huge household. The South states´ economy was built dependent on agriculture and slavery unfortunately and no man like Benjamin depicted in the film could have existed during those times in South Carolina.

In conclusion, this film is more fictional than historical. Even Mel Gibson has said: “This is not historically accurate. In the broad strokes, yes—on other levels, it is sheer fantasy.” Based on that, I still think if someone wants to have a laugh and maybe shead a few tears but is not bothered by historical inaccuracies they might want to check out “The Patriot” and maybe even enjoy the film.

Links used for the my review:
(1)https://web.archive.org/web/20141209153719/http://home.golden.net/~marg/bansite/btbiog2.html
(2)https://www.irishtimes.com/news/older-americans-uncomfortable-with-mel-gibson-s-playing-of-patriot-game-1.292925

The Notions


Thomas Jefferson
Link to the picture: https://www.whitehousehistory.org/digital-library

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