Notions

  • Dred Scott case – Dred Scott vs Sandford is one of the most famous cases in the history of the United States. Dred Scott was the plaintiff and an African-American slave. Lived in the state of Missouri. Slave’s owner Emerson moved to Illinois and took Dred Scott with him. In Illinois, slavery was outlawed. After spending over a decade in Illinois, Dred Scott claimed he was freed from being a slave because of Illinois’ laws. The case was heard in the Supreme Court of Missouri. The state ruled in favour of Sandford. Sandford was an executor and represented the state. The decision was made because slaves weren’t considered full citizens of U.S.
  • Emancipation Proclamation – It was an order by the US President Abraham Lincoln to free slaves in 10 states. It applied to slaves in the states still in rebellion in 1863 during the American Civil War. It did not actually immediately free slaves in those states because those areas were still controlled by the Confederacy. It did free at least 20000 slaves immediately and nearly all 4 million slaves as the Union Army advanced into the Confederate States.
  • Different developments in the North and the South – The North lived a rather aristocratic lifestyle. In the North, slavery was almost prohibited.Many slaves were free. In the South, few slaves were free. The South’s slave economy supported agriculture. The North’s free society enabled industrialization. Southerners tended towards the Democrats. Many Northerners belonged to the Whig Party, when it collapsed many more Northerners became Republicans.
  • Abolitionist movements (1800s) – The abolitionist movement was a social and a political push for the immediate emancipation of all slaves and the end of social discrimination and negregation. Frederick Douglass, a farmer slave, was a leader of the US abolitionist movement. During Andrew Jackson’s presidency. Anti-slavery propaganda. Protest groups focused attention on slavery.
  • Missouri compromise of 1820 – It was a settlement reached between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in Congress and their opposing views on the extension of slavery into new territories. The legislation admitted Missouri as the slave state and Maine as a non-slave state at the same time, retaining the balance between slave and free states.
  • Fugitive slave acts – The First Fugitive Slave Act led to the creation of the Underground Railroad. These acts were two federal laws that concerned runaway slaves. The 1793 Fugitive Slave Act was passed on Feb 4, 1793 guaranteed the right of an owner to recover an escaped slave and required citizens to help in the return of escaped fugitive slaves. The law imposed a 500$ penalty on any person who helped to hide escaped slaves.
  • Underground Railroad – It was a term used for a network of people, homes and hideouts that slaves in the Southern US used to escape to freedom into Northern US and Canada. It wasn’t really a railroad. The “underground” part comes from its secrecy and the “railroad” comes from the way it was used to transport people. People who lead the slaves along the routes – conductors. Homes and hideouts – stations. People who helped by giving money – stockholders. Harriet Truman, farmer slave, helped the slaves to escape. Quakers also helped. Slaves would travel by foot at night. They would sneak from one station to the next, hoping not to get caught. Stations were usually 10 to 20 miles apart. Conductors could be put to death by hanging. From around 1810 to the 1860s, 400,000 slaves escaped. 30,000 during the Civil War.
  • Formation of the Confederacy – In February 1861, representatives from the seven seceded states met in Montgomery, Alabama to found the Confederate States of America. They hoped for a peaceful separation from the North. They did not consider their secession to have been illegal, and they favored a constitution without radical innovations. The new constitution was remarkably similar to the U.S. Constitution, often a word-for-word duplication. Notable changes included: A single-term executive with a 6-year term, a presidential item veto, a role for cabinet officials in congressional debates, a prohibition of protective tariffs and federal funding for internal improvements. The unicameral legislature with active participation by cabinet members blends some aspects of the British House of Commons with the U.S. Congress. It’s interesting to note that the international trade in slaves was prohibited, although naturally the right to own slaves within the Confederacy was maintained. Various candidates for the position of president of the Confederacy emerged. William Yancey of Alabama was well qualified but the border states regarded him as too radical. Robert Toombs of Georgia was held back by his tendency towards intemperate speech. The ultimate choice was Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, a politician, planter, and war hero. For vice-president, the Confederate Congress picked Senator Alexander Stephens of Georgia. This was not a fortunate choice, as Stephens wanted to be president and, failing that, spent the war years looking for a way out of it.
  • Developments and outcome of the war – There was great wealth in the South, but it was primarily tied up in the slave economy. In 1860, the economic value of slaves in the United States exceeded the invested value of all of the nation’s railroads, factories, and banks combined. On the eve of the Civil War, cotton prices were at an all-time high. The Union’s industrial and economic capacity soared during the war as the North continued its rapid industrialization to suppress the rebellion. In the South, a smaller industrial base, fewer rail lines, and an agricultural economy based upon slave labor made mobilization of resources more difficult. As the war dragged on, the Union’s advantages in factories, railroads, and manpower put the Confederacy at a great disadvantage. Union won the war.
  • Causes of the Civil War (1861-1865):
  • Unfair Taxation and State’s Rights – The north and south had vastly different economies. The north made money from factories and manufacturing while the south relied on agriculture for its main income. Since the country was first settled, the U.S. imported most of its goods from Europe. Eventually, the north was able to produce more and more of the goods the U.S. needed. In 1828, northern politicians forced the south to buy goods from the north by passing federal laws that placed high taxes on goods imported from Europe. This angered many southerners. A debate raged on about the tariff for a few years until another tariff was passed in 1832 that increased taxes on manufactured cloth and iron, further enraging southerners. South Carolina threatened to secede but changed its mind when Calhoun suggested nullification. The state legislature agreed and nullified the tariff. The federal government viewed nullification as treasonous and responded with a “force bill” that allowed the president to use Navy and Army power to enforce Congressional acts. Finally, both sides reached a compromise, allowing the tariff to continue only if it decreased each year between the years 1833 to 1842 until the tariff was at roughly the same rate as it was in 1816.
  • Slavery – The north and south had very different opinions about slavery. Although slavery existed in the north, it slowly died out by the 1800s. Many northerners opposed slavery, actively participated in the abolitionist movement and helped runaway slaves escape from the south. Southerners felt that northerners were trying to control their way of life in the south and felt the government wasn’t working hard enough to protect them and their right to own slaves. Southern agriculture, especially the production of cotton, relied very heavily on the use of slaves and southerners felt if their right to own slaves was taken away they would be financially ruined. There has been much debate over the past few centuries about whether or not slavery was the main cause of the Civil War and although there were many factors in the war, slavery was clearly a major factor.
  • Expansion Into the West – As the country expanded westward, more states were added to the union. The land in many of these states did not support agriculture so they often became “free” states. Southerners felt if the number of “free” states continued to grow they would weaken the power and influence that slave states had in the union. In March of 1784, Thomas Jefferson first tried to ban slavery in the western territories in a draft ordinance, which read “that after the year 1800 of the christian era, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the said states, otherwise than in punishment of crimes . . .” but southern politicians had the ban deleted in the report for the committee overseeing the plan to create a temporary government of the Western Territory. In 1787, the Northwest Ordinance officially banned slavery in the Northwest territories (in what became the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin). In 1820, the Missouri Compromise banned slavery in the Louisiana territory but this ban was repealed in 1854 with the Kansas-Nebraska act. A few years later, in 1857, the Northwest Ordinance and the Missouri Compromise ban were deemed unconstitutional during the Dred Scott v. Sandford case.
  • The Election of 1860 – When Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln, a republican who opposed the expansion of slavery, won the election in 1860 it triggered the secession of numerous southern states and eventually led to the start of the Civil War a year later. The first state to secede was South Carolina in December of 1860 followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina. Several attempts were made to reunite the states with the Union but they proved to be unsuccessful.

Visual


This picture depicts the states won by the presidential candidates in the election of 1860 – arguably one of the most significant elections in the nation’s history. On the picture, one can see that all the states where Lincoln won (red) were Northern states that were already free states. The election was one of the primary reasons for the Civil War that began a year after the election. The Civil War was one of the most important events in U.S. history as it led to abolishing slavery, giving former slaves an equal protection under the law and granting black men the right to vote. It’s relevant because it shows how big of an impact one election had on the nation and how much the country changed in a very short period of time.

Critical response

“Glory” has been praised by many to be one of the most accurately depicted historical films of the Civil War. It is a movie that differs from the usual, over-the-top Hollywood historical movies.
One of the reviews that praised “Glory” and gave it a “ranking of 4 ½ out of 5 miniballs” was of Noelle Pickard’s for The Odyssey.
Noelle considers the most accurate parts of the movie to be: “ the assault on Fort Wagner was portrayed extremely truthfully, with huge casualties for the 54th and the 54th’s failure in capturing the confederate stronghold /…/ Shaw’s death is also accurate; there are many reports of him being shot three times through the chest, as it was also shown in the film. His burial too, is historically correct /…/ Shaw was buried with his fellow soldiers and the confederates refused to give his body to the Union.” The assault on Fort Wagner is considered to be the highlight of the film largely due to its historical accuracy. Andrew Knighton for War History Online, shares the same opinion as pretty much every other reviewer: “The climax of the film, the 54th Massachusetts Regiment’s assault on Fort Wagner, is among the most realistic depictions of American Civil War combat. The suicidal experience of charging into a hail of shells and musketry is depicted well. The equipment used and their participation in the war are shown in realistic detail.” Andrew and Noelle both found that the way that black soldiers were treated in the film was very accurate, especially when it came to the part where black soldiers got lower wages. Andrew writes: “The regiment’s refusal to accept lower pay was real. It started a campaign which shamed Congress into giving African-American soldiers the same pay as whites.” And Pickard continues: “and the entire 54th regiment did not accept payment until the Union government passed a law promising equal pay.”
Pickard believes that one of the very few inaccuracies of the film, was the completely fictional characters, yet, when discussing the fictional characters, she says: “they enhanced the film as they represented archetypes of real people who would have been a part of the 54th regiment.”
I couldn’t agree more with her on that topic. Although most of the main characters of the movie were fictional, the characters that were written into the movie, were brave, passionate, and overall a brilliant variety of emotions, that made following them and cheering for them that much more refreshing and enjoyable.
Besides the straight facts of historical accuracy, Noelle also praised the cinematography and music of the film – “the battle scenes of Fort Wagner were filmed with strange angles and jerky movements, making one feel as if they are a part of the fight itself. /…/ The music within the film also contributes to its “goodness,” in particular the scene in which the 54th regiment soldiers gather around a fire and sing the night before going into battle. The song itself is highly emotional and peaceful, becoming nearly heartbreaking when juxtaposed against the chaos and violence of the next day.” In my opinion, the cinematography for the battles was very good for the time the movie was made and even today, didn’t leave me indifferent. Although the campfire scene was very moving and emotional, I couldn’t say that the rest of the music for the movie touched me nearly as much.

Noelle Pickard, The Odyssey – https://www.theodysseyonline.com/glory-historically-accurate-worthy-of-watching
Andrew Knighton, War History Online – https://www.warhistoryonline.com/american-civil-war/what-the-film-glory-got-right-about-the-american-civil-war-and-what-it-did-not.html

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