Smart Animation Taught Me More About the Civil War Than History Class

I’m pretty sure I could pass a high school history test about the Civil War armed with only the knowledge that was dropped on me from watching this highly entertaining 10-minute animation from John D. Ruddy. I’m actually halfway certain I would do better on that test after watching this YouTube video than I would have if I read a sterile textbook.


The kids just have it so easy these days. Enjoy the history lesson, folks. The cartoon drawings are fun too.

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Good video, and I may show it to my students...but it does miss a few points. The video paints the North as some mighty savior, but that’s not really the case, especially in the beginning. The textile industry in the North, as well as the people who purchased the products made in those factories, benefited from slavery and the cheap cotton produced in the South and most of them were not happy with the threat of abolition and an end to a cheaper product than they would get overseas. The rest of the world was fine with Egyptian made cotton, which was cheaper or on par with Southern Cotton, but the factories in the US were not having to pay the larger taxes for it’s purchase. Also, and maybe this is just the issue of a British guy doing American History, the narrator and I’m guessing writer of this video is painting the North with the very large paintbrush of anti-slavery. While they were not pro-slavery, many Northerners, especially the men who in this case are the only people who counted since they had all of the voting power, disagreed with slavery due to the expansion West and job security concerns. Uncle Tom’s Cabin helped to expose slavery and was a great book that rallied many in the North to call for an end to slavery, but the disunion of the United States is what concerned them most. After the war, many Northern states grew very concerned with the possibility of black refugees fleeing a bitter South, so they passed black code laws preventing them from holding jobs in most cases or owning land. Minnesota even owes their relatively low black population to these laws as they stood on the borders and turned former slaves away in most cases. Great video, but not nearly the whole story. I suggest Charles Dew’s Apostles of the Disunion and McPherson’s Why they Fought...these two books give some great discussion on the topic.