WGN’s Underground continues to impress; What took Maryland so long?; more election parallels; history of attacks on candidates’ wives; Civil War prostitution


After three episodes, WGN’s Underground continues to impress with its accurate depiction of slave culture. In the last episode alone, scenes depicted the differences between slave and master versions of Christianity, slaves mocking and laughing at ignorant masters, and a household slave cunningly outwitting master in order to protect her daughter. All of these things are very reflective of  real life day-to-day slave resistance, and we rarely see them in previous movies and TV shows (Roots being an obvious notable exception).  Further, house servants were often more discontented as slaves than even field hands, and the show perfectly encapsulated the reasons for that in one short line of dialogue spoken by one house servant to a field hand. But historians are not the only one’s noticing the show, as it is already generating some Emmy Award buzz. The most interesting thing about this article, however, are the comments from the actors about how filming at an actual Antebellum planation in Louisiana helped them to connect to the slave experience and inspired them in ways that a Hollywood set could not. Beyond what it does for the show, it is a good  example of the benefits of visiting historical sites.

You may know that the state of Maryland recently decided to officially change some of the lyrics to their state song in order to remove its pro-Confederate/Lost Cause sentiments. Over on History News Network, Christian McWhirter (an expert on Antebellum and Civil War era music) examines the original lyrics, and wants to know “What took Maryland so long?” Good question, because as he points out, “A quick look at [the song’s] history and content shows it’s not just pro-Confederate, it’s dissident.”

The Trump historical parallels keep coming. I am actually surprised that we have not seen someone point to the 1896 election before now, but the Trump/Sanders phenomenon bares a striking resemblance to the rise of the Populists in many ways, and just like the Populist Party, is scaring the hell out of the mainstream parties. However, the connection that Libertarian historian David Beito makes to 1896 in this post is that when William Jennings Bryan captured the Democrat nomination despite the party leadership’s disapproval, they tried to defeat him by running a third party “true” Democrat candidate against him– a move that failed miserably to capture the White House.  So, Beito warns,  the Republicans who are thinking about running a third party candidate if Trump wins the nomination should think again. Yet, what he seems to not appreciate is that the Republicans who are talking about such a move are very aware that they wouldn’t win. Their objective would simply be to prevent a Trump presidency by splitting the anti-Hillary vote. Yes, that would get her elected, but they see this as a lesser evil.

Along similar lines is this post, which explores the failure of third parties that tried to swoop in late in the election season by running someone in hopes of derailing a major party’s nominee. Still, it is not until the last few sentences that the author seems to recognize that such an effort this year would be about stopping Trump, not actually trying to a get a third party candidate in the White House.

And while we are on the election: don’t let anyone tell you that all this stuff about Cruz and Trump’s wives has reached a new low in presidential election politics. Not even close. Candidates’s wives have long been targets, and in some pretty unsavory ways. Dolley Madison, Rachel Jackson, and even Mary Todd Lincoln have all been targets of brutal campaign attacks, and it didn’t end with them.

And while we are on unsavory and salacious stuff, lets end with a juicy piece on the Gettysburg Compiler about prostitution and the Civil War. 


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