All Documentary Films

The Civil War

The Civil War is a nine-part TV miniseries directed and produced by Ken Burns that examines the causes, actions, and results of the bloody conflict.

Director
Director/Producer: Ken Burns
Production Company
American Documentaries, Inc.
Release Date
September 1, 1990

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 it. Here are the burning questions of Union and States’ rights, John Brown at Harper’s Ferry, the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, the firing on Fort Sumter and the jubilant rush to arms on both sides. Along the way the series’ major figures are introduced: Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant and a host of lesser-known but equally vivid characters. The episode comes to a climax with the disastrous Union defeat at Manassas, Virginia, where both sides now learn it is to be a very long war.

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