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» » Bad Blood: The Border War That Triggered the Civil War (2007)

Short summary

In the years leading up to the Civil War, a bloody conflict between slaveholders and abolitionists focused the nation's eyes on the state of Missouri and the territory of Kansas. Told through the actual words of slave owners, free-staters, and border ruffians, "Bad Blood" presents the complex morality, and life-and-death decisions faced by those who lived on the border from 1854 through 1860.

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  • comment
    • Author: Hbr
    This is an excellent documentary on Bleeding Kansas.

    The great thing about it was that, unlike other documentaries, the people behind it went as far as hiring actors to play out the roles of actual historical figures and everyday men and women of Bleeding Kansas. The actors were very believable in both interviews and in acting out of major events and battles.

    I am doing a lot of researching on abolitionist John Brown, and I was a little disappointed with the way 'Bad Blood' creators treated him couple of times.

    The narrator introduced John Brown as a man who came to Kansas not to settle, but to fight pro-slavery forces. While it was true, the documentary failed to give the context in which John Brown came to Kansas: his sons came there 6 months before John Brown to claim land and to settle, but they were threatened by pro-slavery forces, so they had to call they father to join and help them.

    As for the Pottawatomie killings, the film narrator explains that James Doyle, one of the men that was murdered by Brown, "came to Kansas simply to work his claim and mind his own business." However, James Doyle and his sons were avid members of the pro-slavery Law and Order party, and sat on the grand jury at the court session held by pro-slavery judge Sterling Cato who issued warrants for the arrest of John Brown and the sons. I would hardly call it "minding his own business." Brown's killings are in no way admirable or defensible, but they are explainable in the context of his times.

    I feel that most of the film is quite accurate and tries not to be biased, but aforementioned episodes leave a bad aftertaste while watching such a well-researched and well-made documentary.
  • Credited cast:
    Aaron Baker Aaron Baker - Robert Barber
    JoAnn Barber JoAnn Barber - Kentucky Emigrant
    Dave Bears Dave Bears - David Atchison
    James Brink James Brink - Free stater
    Trenton Bruegger Trenton Bruegger - West Point, Missouri Farmer
    Michael Bub Michael Bub - Slave Owner
    Steve Butler Steve Butler - William Steward
    Diane Yvette Cook Diane Yvette Cook - Runaway Slave
    Tim Cormack Tim Cormack - John Geary
    Raleigh Dean Craighead Raleigh Dean Craighead - Free-Stater (as Raleigh Craighead)
    Scott Crouse Scott Crouse - Linn County Man
    Brett Dawson Brett Dawson - Charles Hamelton
    Ashley Didion Ashley Didion - Missouri Woman (as Ashley Cope)
    Michael Dragen Michael Dragen - New York Emigrant
    Ray Dunkum Ray Dunkum - Franklin Coleman
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