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American Experience: The Abolitionists

1 Season

Season 1
4.7 out of 5 stars (143) IMDb 8.4/10

American Experience tells the story of how Douglass, Garrison and their abolitionist allies Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown and Angelina Grimke turned a despised fringe movement against chattel slavery into a force that literally changed the nation.

Starring:
David McCullough, David Ogden Stiers

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Season 1

from $1.99

1. Part One: 1820s-1838

Shared beliefs about slavery bring together Angelina Grimké, the daughter of a Charleston plantation family, who moves north and becomes a public speaker against slavery; Frederick Douglass, a young slave who becomes hopeful when he hears about the abolitionists; William Lloyd Garrison, who founds the newspaper The Liberator, a powerful voice for the movement; Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose first trip to the South changes her life and her writing; and John Brown, who devotes his life to the cause. The abolitionist movement, however, is in disarray and increasing violence raises doubts about the efficacy of its pacifist tactics.

TV-PG CC Runtime: 53 minutes Release date: January 8, 2013
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2. Part Two: 1838-1854

The divide between North and South deepens, touching off a crisis that is about to careen out of control.

TV-PG CC Runtime: 53 minutes Release date: January 15, 2013
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3. Part Three: 1854 - Emancipation and Victory

The battle between pro-slavery and free-soil contingents rises to fever pitch.

TV-PG CC Runtime: 53 minutes Release date: January 22, 2013
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This production is filmed in a unique fashion. It's a mix of documentary presentation (with interviews with various historians, as well as narration), and a large amount of reenacting of events in the lives of pioneering abolitionists, such as Frederick Douglas, John Brown, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and William Lloyd Garrison. The end result of these efforts is riveting and highly informative. I was sucked in when I started watching this on PBS, and I couldn't turn away.

A stunning level of attention was applied to the set pieces that are used for the acting portions of the program. Everything from the majestic plantation homes of the south to the wardrobes is rendered with great care. The cities of period Boston, Baltimore, and New York are similarly recreated with great success, though they are shown in limited scope (which is understandable, given the presumably small budget). Even the horse and buggies (not to mention the dirt roads they traverse) seems to ring of genuine authenticity. Granted, I'm not an expert on history, but I was sold on everything, and instantly transported to another time. Also of great use is that the acting is top notch, and the HD presentation provides fantastic resolution.

Please be warned that there are some scenes, which while brief in length, are disturbing. Lynch mobs and whippings are depicted, though they are not graphic, nor is the violence in any way gratuitous. Given the serious subject matter, the inclusion of this limited violence is certainly understandable.

I wholeheartedly recommend this program not only to fans of American history, but to all citizens of the U.S., for it does an admirable job of presenting the stories of some of this country's greatest heroes- those who dared to oppose the institution of slavery at the expense of their own safety, and in the face of what seemed insurmountable opposition.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am a 6th grade social studies teacher and I find this documentary to be excellent. It looks real, it is a lot of live actors do a great job of dressing and acting the part. There's a lot of intense scenes, which is exactly what kids love. I have only seen parts and have heard that parts are very intense and may not be appropriate for 6th graders. The historians are well spoken and do not talk for too long in each clip. There's a good balance and spacing out of them versus the acting out part. The narration is clear. My 6th graders really remembered the information that came from this video.
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Format: DVD
I agree completely with the first reviewer here of this mini-series. I had just seen "Lincoln" in the theater and am now sopping up everything written or filmed on this period in our history.

I think the program was done tastefully, and honestly without being too graphic.

I missed Part 1 on PBS, so I am certainly purchasing the DVD to have it all complete.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Ken Burns Civil War series was and will always be the best depicting the conflict. The Abolitionists outlines how it all got there and the politics behind it all. Great view, highly recommended!

Roland from Ontario Canada
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I like this documentary. Overall very informative. But they focus so much on Angelina Grimke, and left out the older sister Sarah, who had a very big impact on Angelina.
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
This video brings to life the people who, at great personal risk, struggled to bring an end to slavery. William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and others are portrayed in this video as they fought the institution of slavery, and in some instances fought among themselves about the most effective means to achieve their goal. Language and content may be too intense for younger viewers.
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Format: Amazon Video
I've seen all the Civil War Period pieces.
This one was way more in depth on key figures of the Abolitionists movement.
I never new that Fredric Douglas met with John Brown before the raid on the Harpers Ferry Armory;
And that he was a fugitive after the raid with a Federal fugitive warrant placed on his head.
This series really shows how the Federal government kept trying to sidestep the slavery issue and prevent all out civil war with compromise after compromise with the southern slave states.
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By Dideo on March 23, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I recommend this to anyone interest in American history. The Abolitionists played an important role leading to the dissolution of slavery in America.
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