Entry 5: Henry Clay Work, Abolitionist Minstrel

150dpi JPEG image of: Wake Nicodemus

“Wake Nicodemus.” Words and Music by Henry Clay Work.

Release Date: November 23, 1864.

Available: As sung by Burl Ives & as sheet music.

As the end of the Civil War sesquicentennial approaches, so too does the end of one of its most successful elements, the New York Times Disunion Blog. Clay Risen has done a great job curating and editing this collection of thoughtful short essays and I’ve been fortunate enough to be included among its authors. My final contribution will appear in a couple of weeks and discuss the history and resonances of “Marching through Georgia.” I grew to admire the song’s author, Henry Clay Work, while researching my book,  so I’ve decided to devote a couple of entries to some of Work’s lesser-known pieces in anticipation of my Disunion article. Today, I’ll focus on one of his most abolitionist Civil War tunes, “Wake Nicodemus.” Read More


Entry 2: The Trials of a Confederate Abolitionist

Point of Honor, “Pilot.” Directed by Randall Wallace. Written by Carlton Cuse and Randall Wallace

Release Date: January 15, 2015.

Available: Amazon Pilots

I have a slight soft spot for Randall Wallace’s breakout film, Braveheart (I still remember seeing it at the old Gateway 6 in Brampton, Ontario, as a teenager), so I was determined to remain objective going into Point of Honor. One negative review had already appeared by the time I fired it up on Amazon last night, and both Kevin Levin and Keith Harris had justifiably slammed the trailer. Unfortunately, it only took about ten minutes for me to realize this thing is a train wreck, both historically and artistically. Read More