No moves made about George Washington?

Apr 2014
206
Liverpool, England
#61
"However, I do not agree about aversion to the witch trials. It is a well-worn path, despite it being a lot less significant that the lives of Franklin, Washington,or Jefferson."

I think that was quoted as part of the early colonial period that has been dealt with.
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
#62
It'd be hard to make a movie about Washington , keep it historically accurate and not offend people. Making a historically accurate movie abut Washington would have to include the fact he owned over 100 slaves, fought for the British early in his life, made several serious military blunders and became a patriot only after George 3rd made the Proclamation of 1763 which ruined his idea of surveying and selling Ohio for profit. I think it would be too much for some people and would be widely criticized as slanderous.
He also opposed integrating the Continental Army. That many black soldiers fought on behalf of the rebel cause (Baron Ludwig von Closen, a German-born officer in the French army and aide-de-camp to General Rochambeau, estimated that 1/4 of the rebel soldiers at the siege of Yorktown were black) was in spite of Washington, not because of him.

He'd be hard to portray on film without offending some people. A warts-and-all portrayal would ruffle the feathers of many who prefer the romanticized version of Washington they were exposed to in the classroom in the 1950s or 1960s, and a portrayal that skirted around the more controversial aspects of his life would irk people wanting a historically accurate portrayal.

Washington was also a highly ambitious man. Not necessarily a negative trait, but I'd bet that any American cinematic take on him would present him as a humble American Cincinnatus reluctantly performing his duty and white wash away that aspect of his personality.
 
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Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
4,121
Caribbean
#63
He also opposed integrating the Continental Army. That many black soldiers fought on behalf of the rebel cause (Baron Ludwig von Closen, a German-born officer in the French army and aide-de-camp to General Rochambeau, estimated that 1/4 of the rebel soldiers at the siege of Yorktown were black) was in spite of Washington, not because of him.

He'd be hard to portray on film without offending some people. A warts-and-all portrayal would ruffle the feathers of many who prefer the romanticized version of Washington they were exposed to in the classroom in the 1950s or 1960s, and a portrayal that skirted around the more controversial aspects of his life would irk people wanting a historically accurate portrayal.

Washington was also a highly ambitious man. Not necessarily a negative trait, but I'd bet that any American cinematic take on him would present him as a humble American Cincinnatus reluctantly performing his duty and white wash away that aspect of his personality.
I agree about the warts, but was thinking the other way around, that the offended-crat class would have complained that there weren't enough warts. And using your selected area of race, two movies have been made about Lincoln, leaving out all what would be construed as racists warts today. At the end of the 2012 movie, doesn't the Stevens character call Lincoln the purest man in America.. There was a recent movie about a Vice President, the only one I can think of, which was all warts and no virtue.
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
#64
I agree about the warts, but was thinking the other way around, that the offended-crat class would have complained that there weren't enough warts. And using your selected area of race, two movies have been made about Lincoln, leaving out all what would be construed as racists warts today. At the end of the 2012 movie, doesn't the Stevens character call Lincoln the purest man in America.. There was a recent movie about a Vice President, the only one I can think of, which was all warts and no virtue.
The film may have been called Lincoln but it wasn't really an examination of the man's entire life. It was just a portrayal of his efforts to get the 13th Amendment passed. Moreover while Lincoln was not entirely free from the prejudice common among white Americans of that era, his views on race evolved over time, and by the standards of his own era in the long view he was progressive on racial issues. Frederick Douglass' excellent "warts and all" eulogy of Lincoln is good place to start, to get an accurate picture of the man.

Oration in Memory of Abraham Lincoln - Teaching American History

Lincoln's views on race differed substantially from Washington, whose views on race were not progressive by the stardards of his own era, compared to say Benjamin Franklin, who went from slave-owner to a member and president of the Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and the Relief of Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage, the first abolition organization in the United States.

I suppose a film about Washington would not necessarily need to include the more controversial aspects of his life, if like the film Lincoln it focused on a very narrow slice of his life that was far removed from that. Say for example, the Conway Cabal or the attack on Trenton. If it focused on his entire military career however, it should certainly be included.
 

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
4,121
Caribbean
#65
The film may have been called Lincoln but it wasn't really an examination of the man's entire life. It was just a portrayal of his efforts to get the 13th Amendment passed. Moreover while Lincoln was not entirely free from the prejudice common among white Americans of that era, his views on race evolved over time, and by the standards of his own era in the long view he was progressive on racial issues. Frederick Douglass' excellent "warts and all" eulogy of Lincoln is good place to start, to get an accurate picture of the man.
That's a valid point about the recent Lincoln movie not being a cradle-to-grave bio-pic, however, there is still plenty of similar limited topics for Washington. I agree about the Battle of Trenton. It plays like some kind of a miracle, in the context of the Valley Forge winter, how much leadership went into inspiring that longshot. And not less historically significant that The Alamo or Custer's Last Stand, which are in movies.

There is no lack of subject matter for the more ordinary 'crisis' move - like Ten Days in October or even the Lincoln movie. There was crisis re France, England, Barbary Pirates, just being brand new in a brand new form of government, no precedent, just improvising.

Lincoln's views on race differed substantially from Washington, whose views on race were not progressive by the stardards of his own era,
So, he was not progressive. Teddy Roosevelt had interesting ideas on race and he was "progressive." lol

You mention that Washington did not want to integrate the army, as if this would be a bad thing. There were plenty, during Viet Nam era, who did everything they could to be part of a "class" that was excluded from fighting. George also had some black Aide-de-Camp who are visible in the famous painting about crossing the Delaware. There is all sorts of racial cherry-picking available. Lemuel Haynes was a black Minuteman, etc. He was a preacher in Connecticut after the war, and received an honorary Masters. He honored Washington in sermon on his George's birthday, every year.

I have seen the occasional author suggest that there was some "discrimination" involved in various wars, in selecting which companies would occupy the front position on the battlefield. (Like the movie, Braveheart, where the King says "Send the Iriish"). Isn't this part of why they are called "infantry," from infants, as in young and stupid? I have seen one writer suggest that this is exactly what the British did with the American Negroes in the Revolutionary War, which would put integration in different light - but he had no real documentation. This is an area of research I would to read, on any war. If anyone knows of such, please let me know.

Personally, I "believe in" getting it all out. That's the best way to avoid cherry picking and malicious advocacy. Oliver Stone likes to do President movies. lol
 
Last edited:
Feb 2019
792
Pennsylvania, US
#66
He also opposed integrating the Continental Army. That many black soldiers fought on behalf of the rebel cause (Baron Ludwig von Closen, a German-born officer in the French army and aide-de-camp to General Rochambeau, estimated that 1/4 of the rebel soldiers at the siege of Yorktown were black) was in spite of Washington, not because of him.
I just wanted to mention, in case this aspect wasn't considered here yet...

At the time of the Revolutionary war, the majority of African Americans were enslaved - this suddenly complicates the enlistment of these individuals.

The ideals that the Founding Fathers were basing their government upon were quickly realized as being rather sketchy in terms of how thy were applied to people of African descent. A man who is the property of another man fighting for freedom - but only for the free - is such an apparent wrong to anyone analyzing it in even the most superficial way. I would hope this could have been part of the decision to not enlist slaves initially - but I think their fears of slave uprising may have been the primary concern. Perhaps for this/these reasons, Washington suggested - and the Continental Congress agreed - that enlistment of slaves should be halted. From his own letters, he explains how he fears that possible discrimination slaves experienced within the army would cause them to feel their servitude more keenly... whether that is completely for reasons of fear or pity, I'm not sure... the wording seems to convey true concern, but then again, GW was always rather 'gentlemanly' in his conduct.

Washington also suggested that slaves should not be enlisted unless Britain were to enlist slaves first. This most likely is because he was afraid that if he began the practice and Britain followed suit, there would be race to arm as many slaves on both sides as possible - and he had limited access to the materiel.

From the start the British and Continentals were using the issue of slavery like a piece on a chess board. Britain promised to free slaves in hopes of encouraging them to join their ranks (though the British government didn't sanction this as a policy, it was promised by individual commanders). When Rhode Island couldn't send enough troops, they promised freedom to slaves (and compensation to owners) and formed what was called the Black Battalion - known for their bravery, precision and fastidiousness of maintaining their appearance (they were some of the men at York). In the end about 20,000 African Americans served in the British army... (with just a promise of freedom should they win; but no real guarantee of emancipation either). The Continental Army had about 7,000-8,000 African American soldiers in total.

As the war went on, several states passed laws that allowed for slave owners to be paid for the military service of their slaves ... this concept was rejected in the south, though, where only free men could join to fight.

I'm not sure if Washington was a total die-hard in terms of maintaining racial divides... I just think that the issues were complex, once you consider most African Americans at the time were slaves.
 
Likes: Futurist
Jun 2017
2,909
Connecticut
#67
How do you mean? We do have paintings of places, people, fashions... many people have written about events, places, etc. whether that be in diary form or more formal accounts. We have uniforms, clothing, tools, furnishings, buildings and all sorts of other preserved items from that era.
Objects and pictures can't capture scenes in the same way a photograph could even if we're operating under the assumption the goal of every picture is accuracy. Not saying other information isn't valuable it's just a photo is a literal snapshot while everything else is sort of just hints at what would be in said snapshot.
 
Jun 2017
2,909
Connecticut
#68
That's a larger version of the same point and I agree. And I agree with you about Adams being a safe choice.

However, I do not agree about aversion to the witch trials. It is a well-worn path, despite it being a lot less significant that the lives of Franklin, Washington,or Jefferson.
Salem Witch Trials Movies & T.V. Shows

Thanks for your response.
I brought up those examples as exceptions. The Witch Trials has been very overdone from a historical perspective. As have Jamestown and Plymouth. Those stories are the aberrations.
 
Feb 2019
792
Pennsylvania, US
#69
Objects and pictures can't capture scenes in the same way a photograph could even if we're operating under the assumption the goal of every picture is accuracy. Not saying other information isn't valuable it's just a photo is a literal snapshot while everything else is sort of just hints at what would be in said snapshot.
Just for dramatic purposes, filmmakers often diverge from the "truth" when it is necessary to further their artistic message or heighten the drama of a scene... so I'm not sure how often things are presented completely accurate from start to finish in a film. :think:
 

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