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Glory essays show that according to the film Glory, Frederick Douglass and the Governor of Massachusetts wasted no time in organizing a "colored" regiment soon after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862.The following are topics you may want to write a research paper on regarding Glory:
- Choose one character and do a character sketch on that character
- Research the 54th and write on the regiment
- Discuss the history of African Americans in the Civil War
"This is no time to fight only with your white hand, and allow your black hand to remain tied," Douglass had urged. Douglass, in the film, said that a Negro regiment would restore "pride [and] dignity to those who have only known degradation," and so the 54th Massachusetts was born. Commanded by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the 54th went into training camp in November 1862, and sent to South Carolina for manual labor in June 1862. Their first combat was on July 16, 1863 at James Island, quickly followed by the famous attack on Ft. Wagner.
According to the film, the chance for the 54th to serve in combat was due to Colonel Shaw's persistence. Popular opinion of the day was that black soldiers in the Civil War would never see combat, only manual labor. "I am quite sure there is not one man in ten but would feel himself degraded as a volunteer if Negro equality is to be the order in the field of battle," wrote one man to the New York Tribune. Such opinions are reflected throughout the film, as the viewer sees Union officers conspiring to keep necessary supplies from the 54th and keep them out of combat. It is not until they "prove" themselves in battle that white soldiers accept these men as equals. "At first the faintest intimation that Negroes should be employed as soldiers in the Union Army was met with derision," recalled one former Black solider."The feeling against Niger's is intensely strong in this army," wrote a white soldier.
It is commendable that a popular Hollywood film dealt with the discrimination, treatment, and hard-won respect that these black soldiers faced in a realistic and accurate manner. "I think more of a Negro Union soldier than I do of all the cowardly Copperhead trash of the north and there is no solider but what approves of the course of the present administration," wrote one Union soldier. White public opinion, it seems, followed along with Lincoln's private views, and the longer the war dragged on, the more people dropped their pretenses and admitted that the conflict was about slavery. The New York Times observed: "It is only by such occasions that we can at all realize the prodigious revolution which the public mind is experiencing." The Civil War, even if slowly, brought out the better angels of the American people.