‘Free State of Jones’ hit theaters on June 24, and Matthew McConaughey takes on a Civil War hero. Before going to see the movie, HollywoodLife.com has rounded up 5 key things to know about the true story that inspired the film!
Matthew McConaughey, 46, has a new movie out, and Free State of Jones is one of the most moving movies of the year. The Oscar winner plays a Southern man who leads a rebellion against the Confederate army. Free State of Jones is based on a true story, and we’ve got everything you need to know to separate fact from fiction!
1. Yes, Newton Knight was a real person.
The center of Free State of Jones — Newton Knight — wasn’t based in fiction. Newton, born in 1837, led the Knight Company, a group of people that turned against the Confederacy during the Civil War. They sought out to form the “Free State of Jones” in Jones County, Missisippi. He was married to a freed slave, who is played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the movie.
2. Free State of Jones was a book before it was a movie!
Victoria E. Byrum wrote The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War in 2003, 13 years before the movie was made!
3. Some character are real people in the movie, while some are not.
Daniel, the boy that Newton tries to protect during the Battle of Corinth, was not a real person, according to HistoryVsHollywood.com. Lieutenant Barbour and Moses Washington are also fictional characters.
4. A descendant of Newton Knight claims this important part of history was hidden!
Jim Kelly, a descendant of Newton Knight’s and a historian, believes that Newton’s story was hidden, according to TIME. Those who initially taught the history of the “free state” painted Newton to be a bad person. “Being trained as a historian, that struck me. [That means] there’s more here than we’re aware of… The propaganda job was so effective. [Knight’s] memory was buried to uphold the lost-cause mythology of the war.”
5. What’s become of Jones County today?
The “free state of Jones” is now known as Ellisville, a town of about 4,500 people, according to Smithsonian.com. There’s no mention of the anti-Confederate rebellion that took place there.
HollywoodLifers, are you going to see Free State of Jones? Let us know!