Sunday, June 26, 2016

Documentary Review: Civil War 360: Fight for Freedom

This is a presentation from Smithsonian Channel and this episode features Dennis Haysbert telling not only of his ancestors, but the history of slavery, and the Civil War from the perspective of an African American.  This presentation tells many different stories.  Among other things it tells where the term "Sold down the River" came from.  Slaves were considered property, not people.  In fact, the value of slaves was about $3 billion, which was an incredible amount of money at the time, worth more than all the real estate of the area.  "Being sold down the river" referred to being sold south, where the work was usually more grueling, the life expectancy much shorter, and families almost always separated.  It was against the law to teach a slave to read.  The thought was if a slave could read then he would want more.  A great fear of those living in the South was a slave revolt.  Nat Turner had actually lead a revolt, and 50 citizens were killed.  Of course 200 blacks were killed in retribution, but the South lived in fear.  Many of the African Americans risked so much.  Harriet Tubman risked her own self, spying for the Union, and directing the Union men on some occasions in their pursuit of the enemy.  This movie points out how the Ciivil War was sandwiched between two illegal events, the attack on Harpers Ferry, and the assassination of President Lincoln.  John Wilkes Booth was at the first event, and perpetrated the second.
This movie of course also talked about how General Ben Butler first refused to return runaway slaves, saying they were contraband of war.  In the end President Lincoln backed him.  It describes the Emancipation Proclamation, and lastly talks about Black troops.  The risk for Black troops was much greater, because the Confederacy did not take them prisoner, but killed them.  A Black Soldier had to be better than the rest.  There was prejudice against them.  They received less pay for the same work.

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