Friday, May 20, 2011

A Nation Divided - 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War & History Channel Special

The Battle of Gettysburg, the bloodiest in the entire war,
 was fought in the Eastern Theater.
In case you've missed it, 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. 150 years is relatively small in the grand scheme of history, and living in the heart of America you can still see it's lingering effects.  Kathy and I live in Missouri, moving here last year from Kansas.  Two states that saw the first bloody episodes of a conflict that would take our nation through some of it's darkest times.  In fact, many historians believe that the Civil War began with Bleeding Kansas and the Missouri Border War. It's amazing to me how, to this day, the rivalry between these two states continues, whether it be the way the conflict is remembered, or the Confederate Flag that's displayed on a home not too far from our own.

Jayhawkers and Bushwackers fight it out over Kansas
becoming a Free-State or a pro-slavery state.
Bleeding Kansas was one of the early stories Kathy wrote for Legends Of America. You can't write about American History without diving deep into its darkest corners.  Just after writing about William Quantrill, she was promptly criticized for the tone of the story, which ultimately lead to her posting the "opposing" view, which still lives on our website today.  The fact is, no matter how you write it, stories about the Civil War invoke a deep response in many Americans.  And although Slavery was a primary issue, it wasn't the only thing dividing our nation.  Causes of the Civil War centered around States Rights, and the Tariff Act of 1832 caused intense opposition in the South, who advocated Free Trade for their primarily agricultural businesses.  Northern states, which relied heavily on manufacturing, saw the act as protection.  The issue was so divisive that South Carolina declared the act null and void, while threatening to secede from the Union, prompting then President Andrew Jackson to send troops.  While order was restored through compromise in 1850, the idea of secession did not go away.

I think it's important that we remember all the trouble that lead up to the Civil War, especially in our current divisive political climate. We have come a long way in 150 years, but we are still a young nation that needs reminded of how far divisions can grow.  I would invite you to take time this year and learn more about this important turning point in American History.  There are many events planned throughout the next four years during the Civil War Sesquicentennial.  Read about them here and get involved.

Recently a company working with the History Channel reached out to us to see if we would help promote a new Civil War film.  We are more than happy to oblige.  Gettysburg is a 2-hour HISTORY special that kicks off a week of History programming commemorating the 150’th anniversary of the Civil War.

Executive produced by Ridley and Tony Scott, this special strips away the romanticized veneer of the Civil War. It presents the pivotal battle of Gettysburg in a new light: as a visceral, terrifying and deeply personal experience, fought by men with everything on the line. Compelling CGI  and powerful action footage place viewers in the midst of the fighting, delivering both an emotional cinematic experience and an information packed look at the turning points, strategic decisions, technology and little known facts surrounding the greatest engagement ever fought on American soil.

The special begins in the high stakes summer of 1863, as the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia crosses into Pennsylvania. Trailed by the Union’s Army of the Potomac, Lee’s 75,000 strong army heads towards Harrisburg, converging instead near a quiet farm town, Gettysburg.  Known then only as a crossroads where ten roads running in all directions converge like a wagon wheel, this small town would become site of an epic battle between North and South.  For three days, each side fought there for their vision of what America should be.

In collaboration with highly esteemed Civil War historians, HISTORY combed through hundreds of individual accounts of the battle to find the unique voices of struggle, defeat and triumph that tell the larger story of a bitterly conflicted nation.

Don't miss this two hour special, Gettysburg, which debuts this Memorial Day, May 30, 8pm Central, on the History Channel.