Lincoln’s Death, New Nation: April 1865 to 1877

Modern-Day Movies

What about Gone with the Wind? Was it as important as Glory?

In its time, yes. Gone with the Wind never attempted to undertake a major act of verisimilitude (the recreation of the past as it happened). Gone with the Wind attempted, and in some ways succeeded, in showing a way of life that disappeared with the last months of the war: the freestyle, happy life of the truly rich plantation owners.

Such a film would never succeed today because the movie-goers would accurately claim that it did not do enough to depict the lives of the slaves, but in 1939 it represented a significant achievement. Enough time—seventy-five years—had passed since the destruction of Atlanta that Southern movie-goers could be counted on to see it; the romance of the antebellum South was still strong enough—in memory—to guarantee that millions of Northerners would go as well. He or she who sees the reruns today can usually take it as it was: a magnificent period piece that lacked historical sophistication.

This home in Madison, Georgia, which still stands today, is a good example of the antebellum mansions that were the center of plantations in the South before the war.


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