Lincoln Movies: Historically Accurate?

Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" movie starring Daniel Day Lewis is worthy of study. First question: Is it historically accurate? Like so many motion-picture and theater dramas, it draws too heavily on the "great man" theory of history, as historian Eric Foner, author of The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, points out in this clip: … Continue reading Lincoln Movies: Historically Accurate?

How Jessie and John Frémont Mapped the West, Invented Celebrity, and Helped Cause the Civil War

CBS News: "In 1856, one of the most famous people in the United States became the Republican presidential nominee, but his name has since been largely forgotten." PBS Newshour: "In a new book, NPR’s Steve Inskeep has chronicled the little-known story of how the illegitimate son of an immigrant rose to become the Republican Party’s … Continue reading How Jessie and John Frémont Mapped the West, Invented Celebrity, and Helped Cause the Civil War

Dramatic Election of 1856 Echoes in Modern Times

Election of 1856 Explained, by Hip Hughes. Democratic incumbent Franklin Pierce faced problems. He saw the abolitionist movement as an existential threat to a unified nation. He signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act expanding slavery into new territories, which led to Bleeding Kansas, Bloody Kansas. Stephen A. Douglas, the father of "popular sovereignty," which held that each … Continue reading Dramatic Election of 1856 Echoes in Modern Times

Magnificent ‘Harriet’ Movie Spotlights International Heroine

Focus Features: "Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, HARRIET tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history." Critics Response. It is now available … Continue reading Magnificent ‘Harriet’ Movie Spotlights International Heroine

NYT’s 1619 Project Riles Mainstream Historians As Ideological Framing and Misleading Interpretation

"Academic historians, conservatives, and Trotskyist socialists rightly reject The New York Times’ reframing of the past," reported Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic, in a compilation of serious criticisms of the 1619 Project. The Atlantic's Adam Serwer was equally acerbic. "The fight over the 1619 Project is not about the facts. A dispute between a small group … Continue reading NYT’s 1619 Project Riles Mainstream Historians As Ideological Framing and Misleading Interpretation

How the US, Haiti, and France Are Inextricably Linked

Why should the US thank the Caribbean island of Haiti? How are the two inextricably linked? Because if the Haitians hadn't engaged in a successful slave revolt against the French in the early 1800s, giving the emperor Napoleon a major headache, he would not have decided to (metaphorically) shake the dust from his feet, sell … Continue reading How the US, Haiti, and France Are Inextricably Linked

How Inventions Change History: Cotton Gin Expanded Slavery

Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, pricked by conscience as they did not advocate the abolition of slavery in a country founded on the concept of individual freedom, engaged in wishful thinking when they predicted that slavery would end naturally in the early 1800s and save the union. They did not anticipate Eli Whitney's … Continue reading How Inventions Change History: Cotton Gin Expanded Slavery

Legalized Slavery Persisted in Latin America into the 20th Century

Americans tend to assume that slavery was a uniquely American institution, brought by the English and Scottish colonizers, but the Spanish, Portugese and French were aggressive slave-traders in Latin America. Indigenous peoples in Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia were legally enslaved well into the 20th century, during the Amazon Rubber Boom. The Yaqui people, an Uto-Aztecan-speaking indigenous … Continue reading Legalized Slavery Persisted in Latin America into the 20th Century

Children Were Frequently Taken As Slaves

"Children's rights" not to work -- to engage in intentional, structured or unstructured play -- is a 20th century phenomenon in wealthy or developed countries. Children were not infrequently sold by impoverished parents as slaves in Europe and in the American colonies. They were thankful if they had a roof over their heads, clothing, and … Continue reading Children Were Frequently Taken As Slaves

Of 26 Major Slave Revolts in North America, 6 Were Successful

This list of 26 major slave revolts in North America over 300 years, from Wikipedia, is not all-inclusive. Additional revolts can probably be found by Googling each slave-holding state. In North Carolina, for example, 10 counties where slave revolts occurred are mentioned here. "While North Carolina did not have the same investment in slavery as … Continue reading Of 26 Major Slave Revolts in North America, 6 Were Successful