As a young boy, I have always been fascinated with watching movies and I have always imagined what would it be like to go back into time with the American Revolution. There are various products that deal with the American Revolution like 1776 (1972), The Patriot (2000), and Hamilton (2020). I would like this article to be focused on history students/ historians, and teachers/ high school students. I say that this is towards the people because these films would be good to explain different events that had taken place in the American Revolution. It would be good for some the public as well, but it mostly be geared to students, teachers, and history majors. It is important for the teachers to watch videos first before showing the class because they must put certain restrictions on them.  

In 1972, the movie 1776 came out. 1776 is a musical that starts out on May 8, 1776, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Massachusetts John Adams begs the Continental Congress to break away from England and claim its independence as a new nation. William Daniels, who was known in Boy Meets World as Mr. Feeny, played John Adams. In the movie, I saw Adams as aggressive and headstrong. The other congresspeople see Adams as annoying and that they hated him. One scene in the movie, showed the letters that John Adams sent to his with Abigail back and forth to each other. The first thing that they had talked about the letters was of what the army needs to have and what the women want as well. The second thing in the letters was how John did not feel secure about his worth of being a part of Congress. The last note that they had talked about is that they should be honest with everything going on in their life.  

The opening scene that John Adams speaks to congress on Youtube

Another character is Richard Henry Lee, and he was a proud man from Virginia. He agrees with Adams in that they wanted to claim independence away from England and other colonies to do the same. Thomas Jefferson only talks when there is something important. Thomas Jefferson is also the author of the Declaration of Independence because he believed it would be an excellent choice to have their freedom. The New England colonies support this decision. The southern colonies did not support this decision because it could affect them with having slaves. Now in the middle colonies there was a split between the four colonies. New York abstained from it and Pennsylvania said no with a vote of 2-3. The middle colonies that said yes was New Jersey and Delaware with a vote of 2-3. 

 It was not easy to get things done in Congress because they have different interest and affects the different countries. For Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence was easy to write but the hardest part was to get the right words put in. Congress did make some changes in that they took away the slavery clause, they added the reference for God, and it was toward the King of England and not the people. The vote had to be unanimous if not it was going to be hard to move on from. The Continental Army were losing ammunition, clothing and thought about giving up on George Washington. At one point Washington thought they would not win. Jefferson thought about giving up on slavery, but the plans did not follow through. In the end they wanted the names to be written big enough so King George of England could see it. 

1776 The Signing Of The Declaration on Youtube

“1776 – The Movie.” Prezi.com, prezi.com/n482cva1ukvi/1776-the-movie/.

In 2000, the movie The Patriot came out. The movie talks about the father of seven Benjamin Martin who decides not to join the Continental Army. However, the battle comes to his house in which Colonel Tavington of England who killed Martin’s son, Thomas. Martin is upset by that he forms his own army of peasants and farmers. Martin wanted his comrades to keep General Cornwallis in South Carolina so that England could lose their weaponry and lose their men. Martin’s men do well with it until his other son, Gabriel, is killed by Tavington. The two would have a dual to the death. Spoiler alert Tavington dies from Benjamin Martin and the Continental Army wins. 

Benjamin vs Tavington battle scene on Youtube

The movie is inaccurate in that the last battle scene used the American flags, but they really used the flags that represented the Continental Army. In the movie, Gabriel saluted by his head over his head, but they took of their hat, put it off to their side, and then put it back on. It also shows Benjamin give a $5 with Abraham Lincoln. That is not accurate because Abraham Lincoln was not president until 1861. In The Patriot, 5 shillings for service and freedom of the slaves. That did not happen. Another thing is that the military did not wear the same outfits whereas in the movie they did.  

The movie is historically accurate in that the writers talked to people at the Smithsonian about how people dressed in the 1770s. The killing of Martin by Cornwallis and happened. The French did help with the Continental Army. The battles in the movie did happen in Cowpens and Camden. Francis Marion was known as the “Swamped Fox” and trained the troops to do guerilla warfare. The ammunition that was issued in the movie were close to what it was like in the 1770s.  

“Historical Inaccuracies of The Patriot.” Prezi.com, prezi.com/slbacyezwq0w/historical-inaccuracies-of-the-patriot/.

The battles in Cowpens and Camden on Snazzy Maps

In 2020, the musical Hamilton came out to Disney +. In the first act the play opens with Alexander Hamilton flees from the island of Nevis in that he came to New York and talked to Aaron Burr, Hercules Mulligan, John Laurens, and Marquis de Lafayette in which they talk about their goals for the American Revolution. Samuel Seabury talks about the negative that Congress would do, and Hamilton does not see that. Hamilton’s wife is Elizabeth Schuyler. The first position in the military that Hamilton was, was George Washington’s secretary. Hamilton wrote 51 Federalist Papers. Alexander Hamilton went to school at Princeton. 

Hamilton: The Musical on Disney +

“Hamilton.” Disney+ Originals, disneyplusoriginals.disney.com/movie/hamilton. (Accessed April 19, 2021)

In the second act, Thomas Jefferson comes back from France. In 1790, James Madison, Jefferson and Madison created the Compromise of 1790 which would have they have a capital from Mount Vernon in Washington D.C. Burr was angry with Hamilton’s ideas that he changed parties. Washington would then retire from being president of the United States that caught King George by surprise. John Adams becomes president and does not allow Hamilton to work with him. Hamilton decides to help with Jefferson’s 1800 election in which that help him win. In 1804 Burr and Hamilton shoot at each other. When that happened Burr won and was known as the bad guy for killing Alexander Hamilton. I liked this movie/ musical because the songs were very catchy like “Wait For It”, “The Room Where It Happens”, and “Satisfied”.

I said it before and I will say it again, I want to do my history project through film because I have had an interest in watching movies especially with anything related to history. I chose these three movies because they all deal with the American Revolution. I thought it would be nice to go back into time with these movies to feel like being in that period like in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It would be good to read the reviews just in case you are sensitive to different works. If you love history and you love movies then this is the blog for you. 

Featured Image: Limited, Alamy. “Stock Photo – The Colonies of North America at the Time of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.” Alamy, http://www.alamy.com/stock-image-the-colonies-of-north-america-at-the-time-of-the-declaration-of-independence-163267568.html?pv=1.

James Becton. “American Revolution Through Film,” Digital History at USCA, 2021, https://digitalhistoryusca.com/2021/04/21/american-revolution-through-film/

6 thoughts on “American Revolution through Film

  1. You have done a nice job providing extensive information on Hamilton, The Patriot, and 1776. I especially enjoyed how you included small clips on each film because it allows readers to formulate their own opinions on the film.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. James, I love your integration of the three movies, which were all from different decades, depicting the American Revolution. I would advise to hyperlink the Spotify playlist for Hamilton instead of a screenshot, however, I enjoyed the visuals that you presented.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. James, this is a very informative review on these three films. I thoroughly enjoyed your discussion of the historical accuracies and inaccuracies of The Patriot. Your inclusion of YouTube videos and the map of major battles in South Carolina were especially effective.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really like your review on the films such as Hamilton and made a breakdown for what they play provides to your argument. You chose great digitize media such as the maps to give us more valuable information.

    Like

  5. I really like your review on the films such as Hamilton and made a breakdown for what the play provides to your argument. You chose great digitalized tools such as the maps and a playlist on Hamilton.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. James, I think this is a very interesting topic and I think you did a really good job at executing your topic through the lens of a blog. Since my article included women during the American Revolution, I have to be bias, and wished that you would have “Remembered the Ladies” (pun intended). Other than that, your post was very effective in its’ message.

    Liked by 1 person

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