The American Civil War

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01The War Of The South2011041020120724

Dr Adam Smith travels to Richmond, the heart of the Southern Confederacy, to uncover the dramatic contradictions at the South's heart and the war it waged.

The Civil War destroyed much of the South, claimed one in five of all men of fighting age, ended slavery and saw the North confirmed as the defining force in American life.

Yet in the decades that followed it seemed to many that the South had somehow won the peace, found honour rather than shame in the treachery of secession and the ruins of terrible defeat- creating a new world for itself centred around the myth of the Lost Cause.

Many would even declare that the issue of slavery was not the root cause of the South's desire to leave the Union in their defence of States' Rights.

Contemporary historians see a very different picture amidst the carnage of a war that claimed more lives in one battle (Gettysburg) than in all previous wars.

A war whose casualty rate would be the equivalent of six million American lives today.

With the help of leading historians including David Blight, Liz Varon, James McPherson, Eric Fone and Gary Gallagher, Dr Adam Smith reveals the minds and worlds of the South as it set its path towards secession and disunity and in doing so reaped a terrible price.

It's a story of contradictions, ironies and stark human drama that leads Smith to Richmond, Virginia capital of the Confederate States of America following secession from the Union in 1861.

Expert in American history Dr Adam Smith explores the heartland of post war South and the shifting fault lines of memory.

Producer: Mark Burman.

Adam Smith explores the American South and the Civil War.

The Civil War destroyed much of the South, claimed one in five of all men of fighting age, ended slavery and saw the North confirmed as the defining force in American life. Yet in the decades that followed it seemed to many that the South had somehow won the peace, found honour rather than shame in the treachery of secession and the ruins of terrible defeat- creating a new world for itself centred around the myth of the Lost Cause. Many would even declare that the issue of slavery was not the root cause of the South's desire to leave the Union in their defence of States' Rights.

Contemporary historians see a very different picture amidst the carnage of a war that claimed more lives in one battle (Gettysburg) than in all previous wars. A war whose casualty rate would be the equivalent of six million American lives today. With the help of leading historians including David Blight, Liz Varon, James McPherson, Eric Fone and Gary Gallagher, Dr Adam Smith reveals the minds and worlds of the South as it set its path towards secession and disunity and in doing so reaped a terrible price. It's a story of contradictions, ironies and stark human drama that leads Smith to Richmond, Virginia capital of the Confederate States of America following secession from the Union in 1861.

02The War Of The North2011041720120725

150 years after the start of the American Civil War, Dr Adam Smith travels from Lincoln's home town of Springfield, Illinois to Washington DC and the battlefields of Virginia as he asks why the North fought and what it won.

With the help of leading historians including Eric Foner, Gary Gallagher, Ed Ayres, James McPherson and Chandra Manning, Adam reveals the worlds and minds of the North, considers the relationship between the Civil War and Emancipation and asks whether the victory of the North means that a conflict that killed more than half a million Americans should now be a cause for celebration.

Producer: Julia Johnson.

Dr Adam Smith explores the world of the North and its war.

03Dividing Lines2011042420120726

This month marks a hundred and fifty years since the United States divided against themselves, and America plunged into a four-year bloodbath.

But in 2011, is the Civil War just settled, dusty history?

Historian Adam Smith visits contemporary America to trace how the dividing lines of the War are still visible beneath US politics 150 years on, in the era of Obama.

He visits the Old Capitol Building in Springfield, Illinois, where Obama launched his Presidential campaign in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln.

In Virginia, he discovers how the disputes of the Civil War still stir amongst statues and school textbooks, fresh Confederate headstones and debates on states' rights.

We witness 'Neo-Confederates' from across the South come together to re-enact the inauguration of the Confederate President, Jefferson Davis - and hear how they see the battles of the Civil War very much alive today in the struggle between Obama's federal government and the ever-more assertive individual states.

In the Washington theatre where Lincoln was shot, Lincoln scholar Allen Guelzo reflects on the rising antagonism in American politics today, with talk of nullification, secession and states' rights, tyranny and treason.

And Adam visits a museum which painfully embodies the difficulty America still has in coming to terms with the conflict.

Adam Smith traces the dividing lines of the American Civil War beneath US politics today.

04 LASTBlockade Runners And Black Minstrels2011050120120727

When the American civil war loomed, black anti-slavery activists were horrified by their reception in Britain, and they blamed it on the music hall.

"that pestiferous nuisance Ethiopian minstrels have introduced the slang phrases, the contemptuous sneers, all originating in the spirit of slavery"

This mattered a great deal as the hearts and minds of the British were a potential key to the agrarian South's victory.

The Confederates soon needed guns and ammunition made in British factories, and it all needed to go through a Union naval blockade.

They also wanted to bring Britain and France into the war to aid their cause.

In the event John Bull declared and stuck to neutrality - but with willing stooges in the factories and shipyards - that could be stretched a long way.

Blockade running and spy-wars took root on British soil - fortunes were made.

Ship building on the Clyde and Mersey doubled to aid the South and profits soared.

Meanwhile, a new generation of anti-slavery activists cut their teeth in this struggle: many of them women who went on to become important early suffragists.

According to the victorious North, if Britain had stopped the blockade running, the South would have crumbled after Gettysburg.

They took Britain to international arbitration for damages of millions of pounds.

At one point the USA suggested being given Canada in compensation.

Eventually Britain paid out on a narrower claim but the sum involved was still huge.

Glasgow-based writer, Louise Welsh follows the story through the case study of the Clyde, showing how the multi-million dollar campaign to arm the South went hand in hand with growing racism.

She explores the culture of the music hall, and look at how abolitionists hit back in practical ways against the arms trade.

What did Britain do in the American Civil War? Louise Welsh investigates.

"that pestiferous nuisance Ethiopian minstrels have introduced the slang phrases, the contemptuous sneers, all originating in the spirit of slavery"

This mattered a great deal as the hearts and minds of the British were a potential key to the agrarian South's victory. The Confederates soon needed guns and ammunition made in British factories, and it all needed to go through a Union naval blockade. They also wanted to bring Britain and France into the war to aid their cause. In the event John Bull declared and stuck to neutrality - but with willing stooges in the factories and shipyards - that could be stretched a long way.

Blockade running and spy-wars took root on British soil - fortunes were made. Ship building on the Clyde and Mersey doubled to aid the South and profits soared. Meanwhile, a new generation of anti-slavery activists cut their teeth in this struggle: many of them women who went on to become important early suffragists.

According to the victorious North, if Britain had stopped the blockade running, the South would have crumbled after Gettysburg. They took Britain to international arbitration for damages of millions of pounds. At one point the USA suggested being given Canada in compensation. Eventually Britain paid out on a narrower claim but the sum involved was still huge.

Glasgow-based writer, Louise Welsh follows the story through the case study of the Clyde, showing how the multi-million dollar campaign to arm the South went hand in hand with growing racism. She explores the culture of the music hall, and look at how abolitionists hit back in practical ways against the arms trade.