I am a retired American history teacher and have long loved the PBS historical documentaries. They are among the very best of their kind and have set the standard for excellence. However, even among these films, "The Abolitionists" stands above most all of them in quality and watchability. While the Burns brothers have gained greater fame than Rob Rapley, Rapley creates an even more compelling portrait of a bygone era. Using not only the usual pan and scan photos, narration and interviews with various historians, he also has actors dressed in period settings acting out what you are hearing about on the screen...and you get to hear the words of these great Americans. Short of using a time machine to jump back through the 19th century, I cannot imagine a better way to bring all this to life.
Much of this second episode is about the late 1830s to about 1851 and the bulk of this is about Frederick Douglas (as played by Richard Brooks...who was a great choice due to his magnificent voice and acting). It tells about Douglas' book describing his slave life and eventually leads to his splitting with his friend, Garrison. Much of it was simply because Garrison kept hoping that religious revival would end slavery...and Douglas was tired of waiting and seeing nothing positive. Additional topics covered include: the dreaded Personal Liberty Laws, John Brown's radicalization as well as the repatriation of blacks to the South and Harriet Beecher Stowe's answer to this, "Uncle Tom's Cabin". Again, all was very informative, well produced and well worth your time. A real treat.
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