Summer Cinema Scenes in 10 parts

Part 1 “1776” Molasses to Rum to Slaves

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

2022 Blog #26

July 4, 2022

Summer Cinema Scenes in 10 parts

Part 1 “1776” Molasses to Rum to Slaves

Each year, among other things, I watch the movie “1776” each July 4. I admire the boldness of these founding fathers. A colony removing itself from a mother country was not heard of in 1776. One aspect of this movie that I find disturbing is the debate over slavery. White men were celebrating freedom even while being willing to endorse and continue slavery. It set our new nation on a bad direction that would ultimately end with our civil war and then the civil rights movement of the 1960’s.

This movie is in one sense the story of our nation’s founding. In another sense it is the story of how white people must learn to live with the black people that they imported from Africa. Whites brought them here. How must we live with them?

A southerner, Thomas Jefferson, has vowed to free his slaves but never did. A northerner, John Adams, railed against slavery in a rather self-righteous way. He clearly is portraited as being a bit self-righteous in his condemnation of the southern slave holders.

Edward Rutledge, a delegate from South Carolina to the continental congress, rises to confront John Adams. He points out that although it is the southerners own slaves, it is northern boats that transported those slaves. Whether they like it or not, the northerners, particularly Massachusetts merchants, are very much part of the slave trade that John Adams is condemning. There is a powerful scene as Edward Rutledge sings the song, “Molasses to Rum to Slaves” as he points out the hypocrisy of northern self-righteousness.

This song strikes me hard. How often is it easy to see the faults of others without seeing the faults that we carry with us. Northerners during the civil rights movement felt pride that the north was not as bad as the south was in race relations, yet northerners certainly did not treat black people as equals. This reminds me of Jesus telling his disciples that before one can help take a speck out of a neighbor’s eye we must first take the plank out of our own eye.

I encourage everyone to watch 1776 either for the first time, or once more. It contains many important lessons that it might behoove us to learn from. The song, “Molasses to Rum to Slaves” may be viewed using the link below.

Published by pastormarkauthor

I have been a Reformed Church in America pastor and Christian Author since 1984. In addition I am certified Crisis Counselor, certified Disaster Chaplain and have two units of Clinical Pastoral Education.

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