Third film: ”Glory” (Isabel)

Historical accuracy of the film

The film ‘’Glory’’ has reached a seemingly positive status among other historical films involving the history of the United States. When watching it for the first time and reading the surprisingly positive reviews written about this movie, it felt like a contrast to the film ‘’Patriot’’. 

”It is not only the first feature film to treat the role of black soldiers in the American Civil War; it is also the most powerful and historically accurate movie about that war ever made.”

https://newrepublic.com/article/91210/tnr-film-classics-glory-january-15-1990

I can strongly agree with this argument, because the movie showed an accurate reflection of the Civil War, including the conditions of slavery among American civilians and the roles of black men in the army. The movie has lots of details that are shown through different events and characters, such as the 54th regiment’s struggle to obtain proper footwear, the tension between the Irish and blacks in the North, and the horrific methods of medicinal treatment used in that time period.

‘’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?’’

‘’Perhaps one answer is that the significance of the 54th was the way in which it changed white perceptions of black soldiers ‘’

https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/glory-1989

Firstly, if I hadn’t read this review, I would’ve never thought this movie could be shown from a different perspective. If the movie was told through the eyes of African American soldiers (instead of a white officer), the viewers would be able to step into their shoes and gain a better understanding of the thoughts, feelings and struggles that came along with being ‘’a soldier of colour’’. Luckily, the director of the movie did a great job on portraying the accurate viewpoints and making sure they touched the hearts of the viewers.

(There were also many comments on the accuracy of different scenes in the movie, such as the assault on Fort Wagner, Shaw’s death and burial, and the way in which the black Union soldiers were treated – they were paid three dollars less than the Union soldiers)

In conclusion, the movie was an absolute masterpiece and I enjoyed it from beginning to end. Before watching, I had quite low expectations because older movies aren’t usually the ones I prefer but while watching it, my thoughts changed completely.

Visual

https://pin.it/exdnha4as2zz4m

I chose my visual representation for this time period to be a a recruitment poster form the 1860s, that invited black soldiers to fight for the army in the American Civil War. I think this illustration fits here nicely because slavery was one of the main moral issues that caused the Civil War. Before the Civil War, slave labor produced a thriving income for the southern states, but after Lincoln announced the emancipation proclamation on the 1st of January 1863, the conditions changed.  The U.S. Army had never accepted black soldiers before, but the proclamation gave even the slaves a chance to fight for their freedom. At first, Lincoln was afraid that the armed African Americans would make it impossible for the Union army to win the war, but the arguments of abolitionists and a desperate need for soldiers made him reposition his thoughts.

Notions

Differences in the north and the south

Nearly 17 million people lived in the Northern states. The South claimed just 13 million (including 3.5 million slaves).

The North

Climate: Climate and soil favored smaller farms rather than large plantations. Brutally cold and snowy winters, shorter growing season.

Economy: industrial advantage (produced 97% of country’s firearms, 97% of cloth and 93% of its iron). Large textile factories producing cotton grown in the South. Slavery died out, was replaced by immigrant labor from Europe.

Demographics: More natural resources, many large cities were established (NewYork) that were major trading centers.

Transportation: More canals, roads, and railroads.

Culture: Northeners were more likely to have careers in business, medicine or education, they were less religious. Schools were set up even for the poorest. Children were more likely to attend school.

Politics: Most of the population belonged to the Republican political party. Wanted a stronger national government.

The South

Climate: long summers, fertile soil and warm climate, could produce all the food it needed.

Economy: Agriculture was so profitable that there was no need for industrial development. Large-scale farms and plantations that sold crops like tobacco and cotton. Depended on slave labor.

Demographics: No large cities aside from New Orleans. Almost everyone lived on farms and plantations.

Transportation: Problems with transportation of the food to soldiers and civilians. Had 9500 miles of track compared to 22 000 miles of track in the North.

Culture: Only children of the plantation owners got education. Had many trained officers(Seven of the eight military colleges were in the South), people gravitated towards agriculture and military careers.

Politics: Southern men belonged mostly to the Democratic party. Thought that state governments should have way more power.

Abolitionist movement

Social and political push to abolish slavery and end racial discrimination. The movement became popular in Northern politics and churches in the 1830s.

  • Abolitionists traveled throughout the North, fighting for freedom and spreading their message through debates and speeches.
  • Their crusade spread to England, where abolitionists worked to end the international slave trade.

One of the most powerful groups: American Antislavery Society

It was founded in 1833 by William Lloyd Garrison. The group published a newspaper called ‘’The Liberator To Campaign For An End To Slavery’’.

Newspapers

Newspapers talked about the evil side of slavery and tried to prove that Africans were as capable of learning as were Europeans, but most people didn’t believe them. By 1820, South Carolina instituted penalties for anyone bringing anti-slavery material into the state.

Frederick Douglass (former slave)

Frederik Douglass was the most famous black man among the abolitionists. He founded a black abolitionist paper ‘’the north star’’, that highlighted the terrible treatments of slaves and advocated equality for slaves and women. The title was a reference to the directions given to runaway slaves trying to reach the Northern states and Canada: ”Follow the North Star.” 

American abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass edits a journal at his desk, late 1870s.

Missouri Compromise

  • In 1820, the United States comprised of 11 free states and 11 slave states
  • Missouri wanted to be admitted into the Union as a slave state
  • With tensions already high, Missouri wanting to be a slave state caused many debates in Congress
  • Northeners thought that congress should be allowed to prohibit slavery
  • Southeners thought it should be up to the states to decide
  • Missouris entrance as a slave state would throw out the balance of Congress
  • To even things out, congress offered a compromised solution
  • In exchange for Missouris admittance as a slave state, the northern territory of Maine would become free state – equal representation between the north and the south

Fugitive Slave acts

Federal laws that allowed runaway slaves to be captured and returned in the US.

1793

  • slave owners had the right to search for escaped slaves within the borders of free states
  • When capturing a slave, they had to bring them in front of a judge and prove the slave was theirs
  • If the judge was satisfied with their proof, the slave would be returned to their owner
  • Penalty of 500 dollars for hiding escaped slaves
  • Northeners were against turning their states into stalking ground
  • Some abolitionists built safe houses to aid slaves in their escape

1850

  • forced citizens to assist in the capture of runaway slaves
  • Denied slaves the right of a jury trial
  • Penalty of 1000 dollars and six months in jail when interfering the process
  • Met even more criticism – Vermont and Wisconsin intended to nullify the law
  • Abolitionists doubled their efforts to help runaway slaves

By 1860, only 330 slaves had been successfully returned to their Southern masters. It wasn’t until June 28, 1864, that both of the Fugitive Slave Acts were repealed by an act of Congress.

Abolitionist Wendell Phillips speaking against the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 at an antislavery meeting in Boston.

Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad was a network of people offering shelter and aid to escaped slaves from the South. Most of the slaves escaped border states such as kentucky, Virginia and Maryland. People known as ‘’conductors’’ guided the slaves and brought them into hiding places. The most common hiding places were private homes, churches and schoolhouses – these were called ‘’stations’’. ‘’safe houses’’ and ‘’depots’’. The people operating them were called ‘’stationmasters’’. Frederick Douglass was also one of the stationmasters.

Map showing routes of the ‘Underground Railroad,’ used by fugitive slaves to escape into the free states of the United States or Canada, between 1830 -1865. The map was originally published in New York, 1920.

Dred Scott Case

Dred Scott was a slave born in Virginia in the 1790s. He was sold to John Emerson, a doctor in the US Army. He was allowed to marry and had two daughters. Emerson eventually died and Scott sued the widow for his freedom. He claimed to be set free because he was illegally held when taken to free territories. The case made it up to the Supreme Court as Dred Scott vs Sanford (brother of Emerson’s widow). The case was decided on March 6 1857. Court didn’t have jursidiction over the case, becasue Dred Scott wasn’t a citizen of the US (Scott needed to be a citizen to have a valid case). It became necessary to determine who were citizens of the states when the Constitution was adopted. It was decided, that black people could become citizens, 7/2 agreed. The case contributed to the emergence of Civil War.

Portraits of Dred Scott and his wife Harriet Scott, circa 1857.

Formation of Confederacy

  • February 1861, representatives from the seven states met in Alabama to found the Confederate States of America
  • Hoped for a peaceful separation from the North
  • Their constitution was based on the United States, but included changes of some issues that led to the North-South conflict
  • President would serve for 6 years, a single term rather than 4 years with the possibility of succeeding himself
  • Confederate president – Jefferson Davis

Causes of the Civil War

One of the main causes of the was the tension between the northern and southern states caused by the moral issue of slavery.

States’ rights: 

Southern states wanted to abolish laws they didn’t support, especially the South’s right to keep slaves and take them wherever they wished

Territorial expansion:

The South wished to take slavery into western territories, but the North wanted to keep them to white labor only. The newly formed Republican Party, whose members were against slavery, were gaining dominance.The election of a Republican, Abraham Lincoln, as President was a clear signal to the South that they had lost. Feeling excluded, they turned to the only alternative they believed was left: secession (withdrawal from the US union), which eventually led to the Civil War.

Developments and outcome of the war

Developmetns:

  • Invention of the telegraph by Samuel Morse in 1844 ( military purposes, spreading news)
  • Aerial observation with hot air balloons
  • Railroads: trains moved soldiers and supplies
  • First organised transport for the wounded ( army ambulance)
  • Long-range weapons, bullets that traveled further (Minie bullet)
  • Naval mines
  • Ironclad warships
A horse-drawn ambulance cart in Manhattan, during the Civil War.

Outcome:

  • Defeat of the Confederate States od America, went back to their status in the United States
  • Reconstruction period – lots of people wanted to take control of the weakened South
  • End to slavery (13th amendment)
  • Federal legal protection was available to all US citizens, regardless of race or colour
  • US citizens were able to wote no matter what race they were

Emancipation Proclamation

  • Decree that declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”
  • Januray 1, 1863 by Lincoln
  • Applied only to states that had withdrawn from the US
  • Didn’t end slavery in the nation, but captured the hearts of millions of Americans and transformed the character of the war
  • Allowed the acceptance of black men into the Union Army and Navy
  • Strenghtened the Union, added moral force and confirmed that war for the Union must become a war for freedom
President Abraham Lincoln’s first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, July 22, 1862.

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