A sign warning slaves in Boston


I chose this copy of a warning sign for runaway slaves for my representation of this era. I believe that at the time slavery was the most heated debate-over topic. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 made it crucial for white people to return runaway slaves to their owners, otherwise their punishments were harsh. At first sight the act makes it seem like the people of America didn’t have any humanity left in themselves anymore. However, this placard shows us that the republicans were actually ready to put themselves in danger of going to jail and paying a huge fine in order to help the slaves. The sign warning slaves is closely related to this era because it helps to show just how strong of a will there was to give every individual in the country their rights. This powerful sense of purpose kept the republicans going and is also the root cause of the Civil War. A war that resulted in ending slavery and moving towards a more modern worldview we take for granted nowadays.

Critical response to the film “Glory”

Despite “Glory” being an old film, it manages to fully capture the viewer’s attention. It make them feel like actually standing alongside the other soldiers fighting in the Civil War. This has been achieved largely thanks to the historical accuracy of the movie and great acting. Notwithstanding, there are some actors and some parts which make critics question the film director’s decisions.

To begin with, some argue this movie should have been reflected from an African-American’s perspective.
 “I didn’t understand why it had to be told so often from the point of view of the 54th’s white commanding officer. Why did we see the black troops through his eyes – instead of seeing him through theirs? ” (1) I utterly disagree with this statement. I think that the fact that the film was featured through a white colonel’s eyes, was the whole point of the movie. The purpose was to show how seeing the brave actions of African-Americans can disprove any prejudice about them. At the beginning of the film, colonel Shaw’s perception of colored men was clearly depicted in his letters to his mother. Even though he was from an abolitionists’ family, he still was not quite sure in an African American’s capability. He was not sure whether they were able to fight as well or learn as quickly as white men could. Throughout the movie he was constantly proven wrong. He even admitted it in his later letters to his mother. If the film would have been through an African-American’s eyes, it would have failed to convey how a white man’s understanding of colored people improved when he got to know them.

In addition, other critics think that Matthew Broderick was a failure in his role as Shaw. “Working against his cutie-pie image, Broderick freezes his face into a somber mask while director-coscreenwriter Edward Zwick holds the camera on him for interminable close-ups in the vain hope that a thought will be readable on that bland countenance. ” (2) Once again, I cannot agree with this critic’s thought. I think that Broderick was an impeccable fit for the role because in reality, Robert Gould Shaw was as well considered to be a caring man. For some people, his face might have portrayed one’s tender heart and thus the impersonator needed to have the ‘cutie-pie’ look. Something that Matthew was apparently able to convey adequately. I think that Broderick did a great job at keeping Shaw’s personality in mind all the time. This skill was especially crucial during the scenes where Shaw was forced to make cruel decisions that were contradictory to his personality. For instance, the scene when Shaw let Trip be whipped while being there to watch it. The abomination towards that act was distinct in Broderick’s expression. That detestation towards whipping was to reflect Shaw’s delicate charisma.

It was a vital part of the role to manage to show that Shaw was a gentle man, but when needed, also able to make himself heard. Matthew’s chance to prove that was during the scene with the quartermaster. He went in there with a determined look, spoke in a loud voice, and made the quartermaster understand Shaw’s superiority. It was an important scene to make Shaw’s character, as a colonel, believable. In my opinion, Matthew Broderick succeeded in it.

To sum up, when expressing an opinion about something you dislike, it is best to critically analyse what might have been there that you were wanted to be shown. By more carefully thinking about the plot, the clearer the authour’s perspectives are. If after all, you still see it as a flaw, only then it is time to express your concern about the issue.



Illustration of African-Americans in army

North versus South notions:

(I have added the notes taken in class to the end of each paragraph.)

Different developments in the North and South:

NORTH: Because of soil and climate, the north favoured small farmsteads, not plantations. More natural resources=better industry. More big cities eg New York. More urbanised regions. labourers in agriculture from 70% to 40% over 60 years. No slaves, but immigrant labour from Europe. Immigrants traveled to North as there were more job possibilities. More railroads=Better transportation. Politics in the North=republican(whigs). People in North pursued careers in business, medicine. A bit more children tended schools.

SOUTH: Prolific soil, warm climate= perfect for large plantations(tobacco, cotton). Because of agricultural excellence in the area, few saw the need for industrialisation. 80% labour in farms. By 1860 ⅔ of population owned no slaves, black population almost same as white. No ‘metropols’ only a few near rivers for better transportation. By 1860 southerners economy stalled while North’s flourished. In politics, grown men were from democratical party and supporting careers in military, agriculture.

Abolitionist movement:

A movement to end slavery in America by “all men are created equal”. Slavery is not Christian. Abolitionists grew strident and slave owners grew more against it leading to Civil War. Slavery was entrenched to the New World since beginning of the colonising in Jamestown. Some whites were against the idea and after the DOI 2states stopped importing slaves, and Rhode Island (1777) was the first state to abolish slavery. Consitution made a slave a ⅗ of a person for demographics and representation in parliament sake. Uncle Tom’s Cabin -Stowe in 1852 played a major role in abolition movement; showed slave’s perspective. Abolitionists in North questioned the consitution which drove North and South apart cos South thought the North could now “Choose which laws to obey and which not to.” By 1850s, abolitionism was a big part of politics which in a few decades led to civil war. Abolitionists traveled in North giving speeches. Douglas- A famous Abolitionist writer.

Missouri compromise:

Missouri compromise set policy to admit states to pairs; one slave, one not. Missouri had become part of Louisiana territory in 1812. They wanted to become a state by themselves. Tensions had reached a high point when Missouri requested to be a slave state. This threatened the balance between slave- and nonslave states. To avoid trouble, they managed to come to consensus. MIssouri was named a slave state, but Maine was also named a state without slavery. During the Missouri compromise, an imaginary line across former Lousiana territory to separate slave- from not slave states. In addition, it assured that runaway slaves were to be given back (Fugitive Slave law). This compromise was overruled by D.Scott in 1857. Senator Pinci: ” If the original states could choose to have slaver or not, so should the new.”

Fugitive Slave Act:

This act required the slaves to be given back to the owners even if being in a free state. Federal government now has responsibility of finding, returning escaped slaves. In the congress, some argued for slaves’ rights testify in front of a jury, others didn’t think of them as U.S citizens. If a marshal refused to give the slave back, fine of 1000 dollars. In trial, slave couldn’t present evidence and the slave owner payed the comissioner from their pockets; in favour of white=10dollars, in favour of slave=5dollars. Abolitionists said this is bribery. Now the ‘slave-hunters’ wasn’t the only means of returning slaves.

Underground railroad:

A network of people who helped slaves to escapte to North and Canada. Consisted of black and white people. During the period of 50 years, it helped 100k slaves to escape. Organisation started in the end of 18th century. Allegedly Quakers started the movement. It provided shelters, help finding jobs;recommendation letters, food, clothes. This all was funded by mostly rich individuals (stock holders). Fugitives would travel by resting in stations after every 20miles. There were both white and black men part of the organisation. If conductors in stations were found, they were to be hung.

Dredd Scott case:

Dredd Scott was a black slave whose owner died and  ensuing that he tried to sue owner’s widow to become free, however, he lost that case. Dredd Scott is known for his another law case. He wished to become a Missouri citizen on the grounds that he lived with his owner in a slave-free state for a long time before going to Missouri. Supreme court declined his wish for being black, which outraged many abolitionalists. His case played a massive role in the Civil war as it was used to make campaigns by Lincoln for elections. It tightened the North-South relations to fullest and the case was a constant debating material. Scott was actually freed 3 months before he died. His wife pushed him to court

Formation of confederacy:

In 1861, Alabama 7 states formed the Confederate States of America wishing to separate from North in a peaceful way. Aim was to change the constitution as little as possible. Changed was: 6-year presidental term, international slave trade ban, limitation of central government. Mexican war hero J.Davis was chosen president. The government couldn’t raise money and inflation was apparent. It also couldn’t go to war so easily as states could simply disagree. In 1865, president Davis’ cabinet and him were captured which was the end of the confederacy. Mississipi, Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, later North Carolina were part of it.

Causes of the Civil War (1861-1865):

Slavery. Distinct economies. Tensions started drastically increasing with Missouri Compromise. More Northeners started believing in free labour’s advantages/moral. The debates heated up with each decade until politicians were no longer able to restrain disputes. Abraham Lincoln rose to power thanks to his radical antislavery campaign. After that the 7 states formed a confederacy in fear of losing its wealth by abolishing slavery. In 1861 South Carolina rebels opened fire. Lincoln said that they went to war to preserve USA. Some states did not believe the government was efficient. A book “Gone with the winds” is about the era-worth reading.

Developments and outcome of the war:

The bloodiest war on America’s soil. Outcome was emancipation. African-Americans could finally be free. 13th, 14th, 15th amendment were added to constitution. War left confederation in ruins. In South, cotton farms remained but the size of the farms was curtailed. South tried to adapt their economy to North but it was hard as it was built on slavery before. War pushed the North to design an income- tax and tariffs. Invention of telegraphs, ships, first hot air balloons and ambulances!

Emancipation proclamation:

1863. Declaration which declared that all the slaves in opposing states are henceforward freed. They could also join army and in the end there were 200k black soldiers in the Union Army. Negative side is that it excluded the loyal states imposing slavery. This act changed the outlook on the war for many. It helped The Union with moral force for soldiers. Ep was announced in Washington DC. A part of the document still remains.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *