Ken Burns: The Civil War

PBS
PBS
Ken Burns: The Civil War
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9 videos in this collection

The Cause - 1861
Beginning with a searing indictment of slavery, this first episode dramatically evokes the causes of the war, from the Cotton Kingdom of the South to the northern abolitionists who opposed…
A Very Bloody Affair - 1862
1862 saw the birth of modern warfare and the transformation of Lincoln's war to preserve the Union into a war to emancipate the slaves. Episode Two begins with the political…
Forever Free - 1862
This episode charts the dramatic events that led to Lincoln's decision to set the slaves free. Convinced by July 1862 that emancipation was now morally and militarily crucial to the…
Simply Murder - 1863
The nightmarish Union disaster at Fredericksburg comes to two climaxes that spring: at Chancellorsville in May, where Lee wins his most brilliant victory but loses Stonewall Jackson; and at Vicksburg,…
The Universe of Battle - 1863
This episode opens with a dramatic account of the turning point of war: the Battle of Gettysburg, the greatest ever fought in the Western Hemisphere. For three days 150,000 men…
Valley of the Shadow of Death - 1864
Episode six begins with a biographical comparison of Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee and then chronicles the extraordinary series of battles that pitted the two generals against each…
Most Hallowed Ground - 1864
The episode begins with the presidential election of 1864 that sets Abraham Lincoln against his old commanding general, George McClellan. The stakes are nothing less than the survival of the…
War is All Hell - 1865
The episode begins with William Tecumseh Sherman's brilliant march to the sea, which brings the war to the heart of Georgia and the Carolinas and spells the end of the…
The Better Angels of Our Nature - 1865
This extraordinary final episode of The Civil War begins in the bittersweet aftermath of Lee's surrender and then goes on to narrate the horrendous events of five days later when,…

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The Civil War - Emancipation Proclamation
Part of the Series: Up From Slavery
This portion of the series talks about the causes of and start of the Civil War; the evolution of the drive to win on each side of the conflict and of President Lincoln's bold step towards freedom for all slaves in the United States.
Ken Burns: Prohibition
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A three-part, five-and-a-half-hour documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that tells the story of the rise, rule, and fall of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the entire era it encompassed. The culmination of nearly a century of activism, Prohibition was intended to improve,…
By Blood - Native American Men Fight for Cherokee Citizenship
A chronicle of American Indians of African descent battling to regain their tribal citizenship. BY BLOOD explores the impact of this battle, which has manifested into a broader conflict about race, identity, and the sovereign rights of indigenous people. The film demonstrates both sides of the battle, the shared emotional…
Ken Burns: The National Parks - America’s Best Idea
PBS
This 12-hour, six-part documentary series by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan tells the story of an idea as uniquely American as the Declaration of Independence and just as radical: that the most special places in the nation should be preserved, not for royalty or the rich, but for everyone. From…
Ken Burns: The Dust Bowl
PBS
Until the arrival of European and American settlers in the late nineteenth century, the southern Plains of the United States were predominantly grasslands, the home and hunting grounds of many Native American tribes and the range of untold millions of bison. It was seldom used for farming. Bitterly cold winters,…
The Downward Spiral
In the 1620s, there were no limitations imposed on slaves. But by the early 18th century, the expanding slave trade caused many colonies to adopt strict "black codes," transforming the social system into one of legal racial oppression.
Liberty in the Air
From the 1740s to the 1830s, slavery continued to support economic development, but the Revolutionary War revealed the contradictions of a nation seeking independence while denying freedom to its black citizens.
The Challenge of Freedom
The complexities of the Civil War and Reconstruction are chronicled through the experience of slave Robert Smalls. The rise of militant groups and new segregation laws show that slavery's eradication had not ended black oppression.
Seeds of Destruction
As the North adopted laws to abolish slavery, the South saw its greatest expansion of slavery. The abolitionist movement began to gather strength, contributing to the widening fissure and imminent break-up of the nation.
Emancipation Road: 1863-1870 - The Emancipation Proclamation
Part of the Series: Emancipation Road
Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and its effect on the end of the Civil War, the Reconstruction era in the South, and the eventual Constitutional amendments passed to protect it.
Ken Burns: The War
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Emmy nominated documentary series THE WAR is a story of the Second World War through the personal accounts of a handful of men and women from four American towns. The war touched the lives of every family on every street in every town in American and demonstrated that in extraordinary…
The Civil War: Anguish of Emancipation
This dramatic re-enactment, which centers on the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, reveals the agonizing dilemmas that confronted Abraham Lincoln as he struggled to resolve the Civil War. "With all dialogue taken verbatim from manuscripts, letters, diaries, and journals of the period, this excellent film offers a realistic and richly…