The use of Flashback in Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace (dir. Michael Apted, written by Steven Knight) seems to be the first major film to depict the life and activism of Wilfred Wilberforce. I was reluctant to write any review because I’m not sure of the historical accuracy of Wilberforce’s life. However, from a creative point of view, I find the use of flashback interesting.

Many biopics, from made for tv movies to big budget blockbusters, use flashback as a creative device. At one extreme you have The Iron Lady, where almost every other scene is the elderly Thatcher remembering her rise and fall. Then there’s the TV movie like Coco Chanel, where flashbacks are used intermittently to show a character still in her prime remembering how she got where she was while preparing a show.

The classic, however is a film like Gandhi (Dir: David Attenborough, writer: John Briley, 1982), where we start at the death of the main character, then tell the story in sequence, introducing the protagonist just before that fateful first decision is made. But, all these devices open a story toward the end of the story, not in the middle. Continue reading The use of Flashback in Amazing Grace

The re-election of James Madison

WB Strickland's image of the USS United States capturing the HMS Macedonian
Did the October 25 capture of the HMS Macedonian by the USS United States help Madison win re-election in November 1812?

At times, it looked as if the election of 1812 would be a close one.  At any rate, its outcome was more important than remembered. Even as late as July 3 1813, the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser in Australian was speculating on who the winner was. Their information, which came from across the sea on the 12th January of that year, supposed that they could have been wrong about a DeWitt Clinton victory, but “The electors of Vermont are said to be in favor of Mr. Clinton.” Continue reading The re-election of James Madison

Baltimore Democrats attack Republican Newspaper, kill 2

Tombston of James mcCubbin Lingan an officer of the Maryland line in the war of the American Revolution, a captive on the prison ship "Jersey", "An original member of the society of the Cincinnati", Born May 15, 1751, Died July 28 1812, and his beloved wife Janet HENDERSON born September 2 1765, died July 5 1832
Lingan’s tombstone. Photo courtesy of Monumental Thoughts

Baltimore: July 27 1812.  The war of 1812 is a done deal.  Most of the surrounding “Democrats” support war with Britain, over stained honor from an attack of the USS Chesapeake.  They want to fight because Britain is supporting guerrilla warfare.  But, one old Revolutionary war veteran, doesn’t agree with the mob.  General James MacCubban Lingan wishes for peace.  And he defends the home of the publisher of a pro-peace newspaper, the home of the editor of the Federalist Republican.

To the Federalist Republican, war with Britain is merely helping Napoleon.  The United States has nothing to gain and everything to lose.

The mob of “Democrats” didn’t see things that way.  Continue reading Baltimore Democrats attack Republican Newspaper, kill 2

What started the war of 1812? Canadian and American viewpoints

A sailor being kidnapped by a press gangToday Ptara is joined by two world class historians who give their take on what started the war of 1812.

They examine the speeches of the British Parliament and the US House of Representatives. From Jefferson’s purchase of Louisiana, up to the repeal of the Orders of Council, the US and Britain had shaky relations. Continue reading What started the war of 1812? Canadian and American viewpoints

Then she stole the sailor’s heart

Pillory, whipping post and stocks Wallingford, Berkshire;  sketch
Pillory, whipping post and stocks; based on a drawing by Llewellynn Jewitt

Jeffery Hart Bent was not a very forgiving man.  Jeffery once passed a toll that he thought he shouldn’t have to pay. When they asked Jeffery for the fare, he rammed through the gate, breaking it, and continued on his way, leaving the broken booth behind him.

When called to Australia’s Supreme Court, Jeffery didn’t seem to see the condemned man as having many more rights than the broken tollbooth.  The court was a man short when a squeaky clean English solicitor named Garling was held up at sea on his way to New South Wales, captured by an American ship. Only, they weren’t a short, as there were convicts who had served their time and were eligible to serve in the court. Jeffery Hart Bent, however, would not consider it, and he held in contempt any of his advisors who would.

Judge Bent had heard many stories from his little brother Ellis, no doubt, but nothing could prepare him for the sea voyage he was about to make. Continue reading Then she stole the sailor’s heart

Fort Allison: Black History and the War of 1812 in Illinois

1812 stars and stripes flagThe early settlement of Crawford County, Illinois is still relatively clouded in mystery.

The movies used to simplify the westward expansion as a contest between “Indians” and “The White Man.” But when I presented this stereotype a couple of decades ago, on my visit to the a little town near Russelville in Illinois, I was corrected.
Continue reading Fort Allison: Black History and the War of 1812 in Illinois

The fate of Captain Rowland and his privateer brig Holkar

Stranded on her tropical island, it’s likely that Susannah Lalliment didn’t know or care what happened to her would be rescuers turned deserters, Captain Rowland and his Holkar privateer.

To the British navy and merchant marine, however, the brig Holkar was a menace.

Slowed only by the captured ships and other prizes they had to sell, Captain Rowland and his crew turned back home to turn in his prizes. The Emu was taken to New York, and other prizes to other ports.

Continue reading The fate of Captain Rowland and his privateer brig Holkar

Susannah Lalliment meets the American pirates

Despite her conviction, Susannah Lalliment was lucky. The far off colonies of the Empire had too few loyal subjects, and the parliament had an idea of how to get more people there. Susannah’s death sentence was commuted to banishment, life on the other side of the world. Continue reading Susannah Lalliment meets the American pirates

Sentenced to death over a ten pound bank note

A gun pointed at the queen on a ten pound noteSusanna Lalliment didn’t know how to spell her own name.   She was said to be descended from French Huguenot refugees, but she seemed to speak English well enough.

The Lalliments were skilled lace makers in Nottingham. The lace business in Nottingham, however, was changing.  New technology put many traditional craftsmen out of work.

Perhaps being descended from immigrants contributed to workforce mobility.  Susannah and her father moved to London; and that’s where all the trouble started. Continue reading Sentenced to death over a ten pound bank note