There Will Be Blood (Group 1, Due 10/3)

Instructions: Using the “New Post” function, choose a specific moment from the film There Will Be Blood and write a brief (1-3 paragraph) blog post explaining how the moment reflects how industrialization functions in a specific character’s life. How is the history of industrialization depicted in this film?  Remember to think divergently, and avoid repeating moments that have already been written about. Your group should aim to produce posts about a diverse range of characters, scenes, and topics, so pay attention to what others have posted and choose your moment accordingly.         

IMPORTANT:  Be sure to categorize your post under “There Will Be Blood” (the Categories buttons should be on the lower right) so you can get credit for your post! 


Social Class Drama & Fear of Fraternalism

“The instances where poor whites helped slaves were not frequent, but sufficient to show the need for setting one group against the other.”

“The slaveholders … suspected that non-slaveholders would encourage slave disobedience and even rebellion, not so much out of sympathy for the blacks as out of hatred for the rich planters and resentment of their own poverty. White men sometimes were linked to slave insurrectionary plots, and each such incident rekindled fears.” – Genovese

There was a huge fear of fraternalism between poor whites and slaves which explains the “stern police measures against whites who fraternized with blacks.” There was clearly a gap between the rich white people and the poor white people. The poor white people would rather help the slaves, not because they liked them and felt bad for them, but because of their jealousy and hatred towards the rich white community. A report to the Governor of Virginia by Herbert Aptheker stated, “Three white persons are concerned in the plot; and they have arms and ammunition concealed under their houses, and were to give aid when the negroes should begin.” To return the helping hand, slaves would sometimes give food to the poor whites that helped them. Thus was the reason why slaves and Irish workers were segregated when the Brunswick Canal was built, although the excuse was that they feared the two groups would fight and quarrel with each other. In an attempt to control fraternalism and ease the fears of the plantation owners, the two groups were set against each other: poor whites were hired to be the overseers of slave work.

A Vicious Game

It seems as if the “free” slaves were treated as animals. Zinn gave the impression that slave owners were playing some kind of vicious game with the blacks. The slaves would get tortured then run away and scatter; whoever escaped had won, whoever didn’t had lost and was tortured or killed.

David Walker was a son of a slave, but was born free. He agreed that blacks must fight for their freedom. He wrote Walker’s Appeal that included problems with racism, equal rights, and the effects of slavery. He said: “…They have no more right to hold us in slavery than we have to hold them…Our sufferings will come to an end, in spite of all the Americans this side of eternity…”Every dog must have its day,” the American’s is coming to an end.”

Walker even agreed that they were being treated like animals, and he wanted this game to be over and started to fight for their own rights. It worked. The slave owners felt threatened by him and sent out a request to kill him. Sadly, the game was over for David Walker.

The slave’s freedom after the Civil War wasn’t easy. It was as if they were set free into a world full of hungry, vicious wolves.

The Political Game

“He [Lincoln] wrote to a friend: “I confess I hate to see the poor creatures hunted down…but I bite my lips and keep quiet.””

“Two months later in Charleston, southern Illinois, Lincoln told his audience:  I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races (applause); that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people…” 

Political or economical there was a reason for President Lincoln to keep his mouth open or shut in front of the nation of the United States.  Howard Zinn has a strong opinion in his depictions of history. He stresses the hardships the slaves had not only in the South but in the North as well. “The northern elite wanted economic expansion-free land, free labor, a free market, a high protective tariff for manufacturers…The slaves interest opposed all that.” The North was not right out racist in any form, they just had no interest in bettering the lives of the southern slaves. Their only interest was to improve their economic returns. These strong economic views did not have slaves freed.

After Lincoln was inaugurated as President the South threatened to secede. His first speech was directed toward the south stating: “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so.” Lincoln was put into a position fighting over the southern states making him play both sides of the coin. If Lincoln truly believed in the abolishment of slavery he would have put his foot down even in front of the South.  Zinn stresses that President Lincoln should not be seen as a hero, one who got rid of slavery but perhaps one who led the stoppage with the Emancipation Proclamation.


“Are the conditions of slavery as important as the existence of slavery?”

– “Liberal historians saw slavery as perhaps the Negro’s ‘necessary transition to civilizations.”‘

– “Economist or cliometricians have tried to assess slavery by estimating how much money was spent on slaves for food and medical care. But can this describe the reality of slavery as it was to a human being who lived inside it? Are the conditions of slavery as importent as the existence of slavery?”

Many historians over the years have stated that slavery not including the whipping and back breaking work, was not as horrible as they are thought to be. They attempted to prove that by providing evidence that it was either necessary or that slaves didn’t have it that bad. They show how slaveowners spent money on food, clothes, medical supplies for slaves, even how some built them dance halls and gave them holiday celebrations. But that does not remedy over the harsh treatment that was given to slaves over the other hundreds of years. The public hangings, whippings and other physical abuses can not be over looked. Howard Zinn includes a paragraph written by a former slave, John Little, which states “They say slaves are happy, because they laugh, and are merry. I myself and three or four others, have received two hundred lashes in a day, and had our feet in fetters; yet, at night, we would sing and dance, and make others laugh at the rattling of our chains….We did it to keep down trouble, and to keep our hearts from being completely broken.” Those who justify slavery and say it was a necessity would never have that opinion if they were the one enslaved.

Black Codes of Mississippi (1865) Penal Laws

Sec. 1. “….. it shall be the duty of every civil and military officer to arrest any freedman, free negro, or mulatto found with any such arms or ammunition, and cause him or her to be committed to trial in default of bail.”

Sec. 5. “If any freedman, free negro, or mulatto, convicted of any of the misdemeanors provided against in this act, shall fail or refuse for the space of five days, after conviction, to pay the fine and costs imposed, such person shall be hired out by the sheriff or other officer, at public outcry, to any white person who will pay said fine and all costs, and take said convict for the shortest time.”


The Civil War ended, and the slaves were now free.  They were not given the exact same rights as white men, but still, the former slaves became free to a certain extent.  Now they could move to wherever they pleased, get paid for their labor, own properties, and etc.  But all the freedom that they ever dreamed of was obliterated when ex-Confederates once again took control over the South.

According to the Section 1 of Penal Laws under the Black Codes of Mississippi, the authorities can arrest any freedman if they are found possessing any type of weapon.  Basically, the blacks had no means of self-protection from any danger or harm in their way.  What’s more, is that the authorities could easily abuse this law and arrest anyone they wanted, and simply make a false claim that they were carrying a weapon.  Once arrested, bailing was not an option, and it is highly unlikely that most blacks had the money to pay the fine.  Then, it is what seems like a slave auction all over again.  The Black Codes were truly slavery by another name.

Lee Guidon – Klan Terrorism in South Carolina (1872)

“During the early 1870s the Congress held hearings to investigate reports that the Ku Klux Klan was engaging in widespread intimidation and violence against blacks in the South. The following three documents relate to a series of racial incidents in York County, South Carolina, in 1871. Throughout the South, where Radical Reconstruction was being implemented, blacks were joining Union Leagues, Republican organizations that also had secret rituals. The first document is an article from the Yorkville Enquirer describing the rash violence in the community. The second document is the courtroom testimony of an African American woman, Harriet Postle, whose family was assaulted by Klansmen. The third document is the testimony of Lawson B. Davis, a white Klansmen accused of such terrorism.”

Such acts of terrorism and violence describe an era of social unrest and instability right after the civil war and freedom of the former black slaves. Racism, poor economy in the south, rise of Radical Republicanism and general contempt for the loss of the civil war drove whites, mainly the Ku Klux Clan to commit such deliberate acts of malice toward African Americans. Congress caught on to the events unfolding in the South, and realized it must act on such. This created even more hatred for the North, republicans and blacks for being reprimanded on such actions which would continue far past the era of reconstruction and radical republicanism, abet on a smaller and more clandestine scale.

Jourdon Anderson, Letter to My Old Master (1865)

“Now, if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be my advantage to move back again.” 


It is pretty clear from the passage “Letter to My Old Master” by Jourdon Anderson, that slaves never liked to be under the control of the white master. And who could blame them; they were constantly beat, threatened, and even killed. There was no mutual trust established, thus that is why Jourdon asks for some money for his past service, as a sign of trust and appreciation. Plantation owners previously, would never pay a slave a cent, making it even harder for them to do it now. Never did it before, why start now? Thus money, would be a great sign of mutual trust.

Now, many would argue that the freed slaves were acting “too brave”, as if they were in control when it came to whites. But in reality, the newly freed were acting with much diplomacy. With the anger they had build up against their old masters, who treated them with little to no respect, who could blame them for being extra cautious. If anything, a rebellion or even a conspiracy against the master would be surely expected.  Instead, Jourdon understands that his safety, family’s well being and financial means are suffering, thus he makes a beneficial proposition for both parties, to his previous plantation owner. Although the proposition might’ve been a bit risky, it was worth a try. At this point, nobody could bring him and his family back to his “Old Master”, so a bargain would not hurt. Everywhere was dangerous for the newly freed and finding a place they could trust and stay at was the hardest part. Jourdon’s diplomatic skills came to light as he ensures his loyalty to his master, “Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear at your being hurt”, and then goes on to ask about a possible opportunity at the old plantation.

The newly freed did not have a choice but to be “brave”; they had to survive in a world that was turned against them. The smarter ones, the more diplomatic ones, survived, understanding that they have to give in order to get. Although slavery was abolished, the idea of free labor was firmly stuck inside some white’s heads, making it harder for the freed slaves to survive on their own.

Black Codes of Mississippi (1865)

     “… If any freedman, free negro, or mulatto shall fail or refuse to pay any tax levied according to the provisions of the sixth section of this act, it shall be prima facie evidence of vagrancy, and it shall be the duty of the sheriff to arrest such freedman, free negro, or mulatto or such person refusing or neglecting to pay such tax, and proceed at once to hire for the shortest time such delinquent taxpayer to any one who will pay the said tax, with accruing costs, giving preference to the employer, if there be one.”

     The Civil War gave the end of the slavery. It might seem blacks get freedom; however, southern whites who have white supremacy for a long time did not accept freedom of blacks or regard blacks as who have same right of whites. Therefore, they made “Black Codes” to control blacks. In other words, they made another name of slavery using word of black rather than using word of slavery. One of the black codes is about “vagrant law” which only applies for blacks. This law represents what kinds of behaviors can be a vagrant. Even if, blacks who do not have lawful employment have to be fined and if they do not pay such fine or tax, they immediately hired to employer by the sheriff. Worse than all, blacks easily can be a vagrant because they hard to getting their own property, jobs and low wages.

Organization and Principles of the Ku Klux Klan (1868)

“Second: To protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and all laws passed in conformity thereto, and to protect the States and the people thereof from all invasion from any source whatever.” 

After the Civil war, the south was in complete chaos. After losing the war, many white people were not used to the idea of blacks being free. Due to the fact that blacks were considered property and not even seen as human beings, slave owners were not accustomed to the idea of slaves being free or even equal to them. In reaction to this, the Ku Klux Klan was formed to try and preserve the idea of white supremacy. The Ku Klux Klan vowed to “protect and defend the constitution of the United States,” conflating patriotism with their racist ideology. They still considered blacks as property and believed that by freeing the slaves, the federal government was violating their constitutional rights. They believed that in order to protect the rights of the people of the United States, they needed to rebel against this new concept of treating black people as equals.