Historical Accuracy of the Patriot

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History 122 – American History to 1877
Jason Dickson

Historical Movie Review: The Patriot

The movie, The Patriot, is the story of a South Carolina plantation owner, Benjamin Martin, who leads a local militia against British troops in the South during the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. Martin, who is a widower with six children and a veteran of the French and Indian War, wants nothing to do with the war until a brutal British Colonel, William Tavington, kills one of his sons and takes his eldest son, a member of the Continental Army, prisoner. Martin, who’s character is loosely based on Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, uses guerrilla warfare to cut British supply lines and attack outposts in an attempt to slow General Charles Corwallis from joining British forces in the North. While the primary purpose of the movie is to entertain, it does mostly follow historical events of the early years of the Revolutionary War. However, numerous details within the movie were changed to improve the drama and action. These were most notable in some ways they depicted colonial society and details surrounding the war itself. First, the movie was not accurate in how it depicted slavery in South Carolina. Benjamin Martin was a small plantation owner and the movie showed him having a group of free black workers. If this was true, he would have probably been the only one in South Carolina. Second, there were few slaves shown on either side of the battles when both sides used slaves as soldiers. One soldier in Martin’s militia said he was offered five schillings a month and freedom after 12 months of service by George Washington. While Washington did consider an incentive for black soldiers, none was every offered (citation). Indians were also left out of the movie altogether when Indians fought on both sides particularly with the British. Finally, the movie has Martin and his family going into a secluded black colony for protection. When they arrive,...
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