The Civil War

Season 1 Episode 9

The Better Angels of Our Nature (1865)

Aired Daily 8:00 PM Sep 27, 1990 on PBS
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Episode Summary

The nation faces the tragedy of Lincoln's assassination and the war's implications for human rights and the power of the federal vs. state government. The long road to reconstruction is planned, and in conclusion, the surviving veterans of North and South come together in remembrance fifty years later - an event captured on early motion picture film.moreless

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Julie Harris (I)

Julie Harris (I)

Voice of Mary Chestnut

Guest Star

Jason Robards

Jason Robards

Voice of Ulysses S. Grant

Guest Star

George Plimpton

George Plimpton

Voice of George Templeton Strong

Guest Star

Sam Waterston

Sam Waterston

Voice of Abraham Lincoln

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Some of the major topics chronicled in this final installment include the mood and condition of the North and South after the war's end, the details of Lincoln's assassination and the nation's reaction, a re-enactment of Pickett's ill-fated charge at Gettysburg 50 years later, and concluding remarks on the meaning of the war and its influence on what the United States of America was to become.

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Berry Benson (Confederate scout and sharpshooter): (many years after the war) And after the battle, then the slain and the wounded will rise and meet all sound and well, and there will be talking and laughter and cheers, and all will say, "Did it not seem real? Was it not as in the old days?"

    • Shelby Foote (noted Civil War author): Before the war it was always said the United States are...and after the war it was the United States is...and that sums up what the war accomplished - it made us an is.

  • NOTES (3)

    • The Civil War was produced in association with PBS station WETA in Washington, DC.

    • Notable historians, advisors and commentators that appear include Barbara Fields, Ed Bearss, James McPherson, Stephen Oates, and Steven Sears.

      The primary theme music, Ashokan Farewell, was composed at an earlier date and is performed by Jay Ungar and "Fiddle Fever."

    • The original broadcast of The Civil War series was seen by 40 million viewers (a record for PBS) and won numerous awards - including two Emmys, two Grammys, the Peabody Award, the DuPont/Columbia Journalism Award, and the Golden Globe. The Washington Post wrote, "not just good TV, not even great TV, this is heroic TV."


    • The title of this installment is taken from the conclusion of Lincoln's first inaugural address, dedicated to a future time when the country would again be of one mind and the sins of conflict forgiven.