How could an amber liquid derived from the by-product of sugar refinement, be central to both the greatest and worst of human endeavors?
The desire for rum drove a quest for inalienable human rights while simultaneously enslaving a race. Its taxation bolstered rum’s image as the American Colonist’s drink for freedom, while simultaneously acting as a cause and currency of the slave trade. Rum embodies many of the moral and political conflicts wrestled with in the forming of the United States.
At a time when Americans are polarized over racial injustice, understanding the cultural and political landscape surrounding
our nation’s founding ideology and practices, reveals a path for critical insight. Rum facilitates an access point for audiences weary of mainstream colonial America narratives. Rum, as a product, an industry, and a culture, illuminates a new emotionally charged perspective to the story of American Independence.
Rum: America’s Spirit for Liberty will be a 90-minute documentary film engaging a popular audience in a new conversation on the economic causes and moral conflicts in the founding of the United States. Funding for the $900,000 budget will come from public and private grant organizations, corporations, and private contributions.
In 2026 the United States of America celebrates its 250th anniversary. As such, new attention is being placed on colonial America and the Revolutionary War. Stanley Nelson’s The Transatlantic Slave Trade, will air on PBS in 2021, Thomas Jefferson will be a 2 part four hour film on PBS in 2022, and Ken Burns’ The American Revolution will be a 5-part series in 2025. Rum: America’s Spirit for Liberty falls neatly in the middle of these programs, drawing a direct connection between the slave trade and the American Revolution.
Rum: America’s Spirit for Liberty’s narrative is driven by a diverse assortment of
engaging characters and events threaded together by the central construct of the rum trade, liberty, and the enslavement of a race. It is through the understanding of motivaions and actions of a few historic individuals, some well-known and others relatively unknown, that the film’s themes emerge. The result is a powerful viewer experience rich in the tapestry of Colonial America’s moral and political conflicts regarding slavery and founding principles based on inalienable rights.