Most of the videos I make for my YouTube channel don’t often have any kind of interesting story behind the reason that they were made. Most. That is not the case for the video called “Relax with a Union Soldier | ASMR” for which this piece of writing is about. But this isn’t really so much about the video and how & why it came to be, than it is about how I came to have a newfound interest in the topic of the video at hand: the American Civil War, more specifically Ulysses S. Grant.
When I was a kid, I hated school for the most part. First off, I went to Roman Catholic school, so there was that. When it came to history though, I could have cared less about anything that was not relevant or important to my survival and growing up. Of course, that’s not how I thought of it back then when I was a kid, but today that pretty much sums up my lack of interest in history and social studies. Ugh. Social Studies…
Fast forward to the date of this writing, and for the most part I still have zero interest in history. I like being a simple bipedal hominid: I like family, food, art, nature, games, tech and science (to a degree… i love/hate tech, and dislike almost everything about space exploration for certain reasons, but that’s another article). I do like certain aspects of history such as things revolving around aboriginal tribes, nature, and war. But beyond that.. I could really care less as to who was president, why the roman aqueducts were built, what the state capitals are, who invented whatever, etc. etc.
A few years ago someone commented on my YouTube channel that I should do a Civil War ASMR role-play. I thought that was a good idea, but at that time I wasn’t sure how to go about it, as is the case with most suggestions or even my own ideas. For whatever reason, some ideas just take time to develop and it has nothing to do with needing to be elaborate, well thought out, or spending money on a ton of props. I would continue to think about the Civil War idea off an on over the next few years until March of this year (2020) when all of a sudden my brain decided it was the right time to do the video (who am I to question my brain? It commands, I obey). So I did some research, purchased a variety of props (including civil war reproduction uniform and tent), and made the video.
But about a month prior to making the video, and the whole point of this piece of writing, is that sometime in April, the History Channel previewed a trailer for an upcoming mini-series about the civil war called “Grant”. My wife and I couldn’t help but chuckle at the coincidence: here I am preparing to do a video based on the Civil War, and the History channel is releasing a documentary about it. How apropos. Or is it synchronicity? It was as if the universe was telling me that I needed to watch the series before I could make my video on it (which even more coincidentally wasn’t ready to be filmed until after the series). Too funny.
So we watched the Grant mini series and it was spectacular! Very well produced and acted, sucked me in, and most importantly it had lots of tasty non-biased history morsels about Grant and the Civil War. Nothing appeared to be sugar-coated. And for the first time in my life I had an actual interest in both Ulysses S. Grant and the American Civil War. So much so that after the series was over I was pouring over Grant’s wikipedia entry and even looking for books about him. I have to give kudos to the History Channel. Event though they still produce a lot of dramatized, reality TV crap and are no longer purely history like they once were, I must congratulate them on this.
While watching the series I couldn’t help myself but to feel an overall sense of camaraderie or affinity with Grant as a person for various reasons:
- His sense of humility / humble nature
- He made mistakes (especially during the war and presidency) yet wasn’t too proud nor too stubborn to learn from them and try his best to fix them
- He was a peaceful man (ironically)
- He was sensitive and quiet as a child
- He freed a slave that he somehow owned (I don’t want to be naive to think it he was purely out of sympathy / empathy as it could have been, but who really knows. He freed a slave, and that’s all that matters. If I learn anything about this in his memoirs, I will update this post)
- He appointed Jewish people to federal office
- He was sympathetic to women’s rights and female suffrage
- He proposed a constitutional amendment that tried to ban religion in school (including atheism and paganism) and prohibit religious funding, but it was eventually defeated by the Senate.
- He tried to destroy the KKK (was somewhat successful)
- He had a Native American on his staff (Ely S. Parker, who also served in the war with Grant)
- Tried his best to help the Native Americans with his Native American policy
- And of course, he helped the Union win the Civil War (if you ask me, he was the sole reason the Union won. No Grant = No W in the Win Loss column)
- He had a big heart
I never knew these things about Ulysses S. Grant and it was eye-opening to say the least. I knew I liked him for a reason. Well a dozen reasons, actually.
So there you have it. What started out to be just a simple, fun role-play of my portraying a union soldier during the civil war, turned out to be quite the unexpected educational experience.
Thanks to those who suggested the video idea, thanks to the History Channel’s mini series, and most importantly, thanks to everyone involved in the Civil War, because if the North had never won, would any of us, even YouTube itself, even be here?? How often do we take our freedom for… wait for it… Granted.
Now, if you’ll excuse me… I just received the paperback version of “The Complete Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant” which is something I never thought I would own, let alone have the desire to read. I am very excited to soak up everything Ulysses S. Grant wrote. And who knows… maybe one day, or in a few years, I will make my own video about him…
Thanks for reading and/or watching.