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1) I thought it was extremely interesting that Griffith poured over books containing photographs and sketches of battles and marches to help in creating a believable aesthetic. I think perhaps part of the reason I find these scenes so intriguing is because they do attempt to provide an accurate -- as one can get -- depiction of events, while the blatant disregard for historical accuracy was apparent everywhere else. (Kristen Englehardt, Lehigh University)

2) I am really disgusted by the end of this movie. The KKK is portrayed as heroic, and black people are portrayed basically as barbarians. I really don't think I can look at this movie objectively and admire it for its breakthroughs in cinema because I am so deeply disturbed by the message it gives out. (Lyndsey Collins, Lehigh University)

3) The Birth of a Nation is a motion picture, and the motion picture is at present the witch of modern times, and at all times there must be witches to be burned. (D. W. Griffith 97)

4) In this masterpiece of motion-picture production . . . we may see something of the possibilities of the art as an educator of the human race through the most royal of the senses, the eye. ("Arrival of a New Stage in the Art of the Movies")

5) This nation of ours was not born between 1861 and 1865, and no one will profit from trying to pervert history. (New York Globe)

6) It’s worth seeing anywhere. Many will see it twice, yea thrice and still obtain much satisfaction and entertainment. (Mark Vance)

7) Still more dangerous than such a play would be to have the American people put into the hands of any officials the power to decide what is good history and bad, and to suppress any films that they regard as likely to have an injurious influence on public sentiment. (Independent)

8) It was significant that on more than one occasion during the showing of the film there were hisses mingled with the applause. These hisses were not, of course, directed against the artistic quality of the film. They were evoked by the undisguised appeal to race prejudices. (W. Stephen Bush)

9) The low order of the Negro’s mentality—his lack of inventive skill—is demonstrated by his meager accomplishments in his undomesticated state, which, as has been shown, are confined to the fashioning of a few rude weapons of stone; while the greater achievements of the domesticated Negro are due solely to the influence of man. (Charles Carroll 56)

10) The evil in The Birth of a Nation lies in the fact that the play is both a denial of the power of development within the free Negro and an exaltation of race war. (Outlook)

11) Aware as a clergyman that such violence is excessive, [Thomas Dixon] has learned in all his melodramas to give them a highly moral twang. If one of his heroes is about to do something particularly loathsome, Mr. Dixon thrusts a crucifix in his hand and has him roll his eyes to heaven. In this way the very basest impulses are given the sanction of godliness, and Mr. Dixon preserves his own respect and the respect of such people as go by the label and not by the rot-gut they consume. (Francis Hackett)

12) The myth of the black rapist has been methodically conjured up whenever recurrent waves of violence and terror against the black community have required convincing justification. (Angela Davis)

13) Probably it has never occurred to the supporters of this measure that universal dramatic art is practically impossible without the excitation of some degree of race or religious feeling. How unwise to drag race or religion into the realm of censorship! (D. W. Griffith)

14) I am not attacking the Negro of today. I am recording faithfully the history of fifty years ago. I portray three Negroes faithful unto death to every one to two vicious Negroes, misled by white scoundrels. Is it a crime to present a bad black man, seeing we have so many bad white ones? (Thomas Dixon)

15) Radical Reconstruction was doomed to fail. With a crass, materialistic design, it was cloaked in a garb of high idealistic justice, but its rulers were inexperienced, ignorant, and corrupt. (E. Merton Colter 162)

16) But the attitude which Mr. Dixon possesses and the one for which he forges corroboration in history is a perversion due largely to his personal temperament. So far as I can judge from the film, as well as from my recollection of Mr. Dixon's books, his is the sort of disposition that foments a great deal of the trouble in civilization. (Francis Hackett)

17) No characters in the story are applauded with greater fervor than the good Negroes whose devotion is so clearly shown. If prejudiced witnesses do not see the message in this portion of the entire drama we are not to blame. (D. W. Griffith 78)

18) I cannot believe that the supreme lawmaking assembly of the state will deliberately deny to a Southern white man freedom of speech on Boston Common merely because a few negro agitators differ from his historical conclusions. (Thomas Dixon 91)

19) Race prejudice? Injustice? Suppression? You would not think of those things had you seen The Birth of a Nation. For none but a man with a spirit too picayunish and warped for words would pick such flaws in a spectacle so great and whole-hearted as this. (Ward Greene)

20) The Birth of a Nation is built to arouse your emotions, and it does it. It is designed to educate you, and it does so more than many hours of studying books. It is not designed to arouse your prejudices, and if you are fair-minded and not predisposed, it will not do so. (Ned McIntosh)

21) One of racism's salient historical features has always been the assumption that white men--especially those who wield economic power--possess an incontestable right of access to Black women's bodies. (Angela Davis)

22) Another of the assertions of the Lost Cause is that the South would have abandoned slavery of its own accord. It was simply a question of time. (Gallagher and Nolan)

23) The witch burners, who burn through the censorship of the motion picture today, when they have nothing left but the charred and blackened embers of that which promised once to be a beautiful art, when this grisly work is finished, where will they turn their attention next? (D. W. Griffith 98)

24) The awful restraint of the audience is thrown to the winds. Many rise from their seats. With the roar of thunder a shout goes up. Freedom is here! Justice is at hand! Retribution has arrived! The scene is indescribable. (Ned McIntosh)

25) The enthusiasm of the whole Southern community, including slaves, for the war effort demonstrates an acceptance of the existing state of society, including slavery. (Melvyn Stokes)

26) Mr. Dixon said the Ku Klux Klan was formed to protect the white women from Negro men, to restore order, and to reclaim political control for the white people of the south. He said that the Ku Klux Klan was not only engaged in restoring law and order, but was of a religious nature. (Rolfe Cobleigh 82)

27) It is insulting to every man of Southern birth to assume that he is pleased by the misrepresentation so colossal. (New York Globe)

28) Technically, The Birth of a Nation is perfect. (Ward Greene)

29) Though much has been made of The Birth of a Nation's similar inflammatory effect, a closer reading of such accounts indicates that the emotions the motion pictures stirred among southerners stemmed from their enthusiasm for its technical virtuosity, their nostalgia for the "Lost Cause," and their defensive anger at northern protest, rather than from any overt Negrophobia. (John Inscoe)

30) The KKK costumes are ridiculous / horrifying. I’m surprised women agreed to sew them. (Danielle Albergo, Lehigh University)

31) Do you questions these facts [in Birth of a Nation]? If so, I will submit them to a jury of three historians of established character, and if they decide against me I will agree to withdraw The Birth of a Nation from the stage. (Thomas Dixon)

32) I have expressed my disapproval of The Birth of a Nation, following each view of it on the grounds of falsifying history, in a riot of emotions glorifying crime, especially lynching, immorality, inviting prejudice against race, falsely representing the character of colored Americans, and teaching the undemocratic, unchristian, and unlawful doctrine that all colored people should be removed from the United States. (Rolfe Cobleigh 83)

33) It is one of the ironies of history that the term Reconstruction, which the Southerners so frequently used during the war to mean a return to the old Union as it was and which they would have been glad to accept at the Surrender, was afterwards made to mean something so grotesquely different to cause the term to be abhorred for generations. (E. Merton Coulter 21)

34) One of racism's salient historical features has always been the assumption that white men--especially those who wield economic power--posses an incontestable right of access to Black women's bodies. (Angela Davis)

35) The transformation of this film from popular blockbuster to what Griffith scholar Scott Simon has called "one of the ugliest artifacts of American popular art" is an important lesson in the way that reception depends on cultural and historical conditions. (Paul McEwan)

36) For Birth of a Nation is the awakener of every feeling. Your heart pulses with patriotism when those boys in grey march to battle with those banners whipping and the band playing "Dixie' ; you are wrung with compassion with the mother and her girls desolate at home; you are shocked by the clamor of mighty armies flung hell bent into conlfict; your throat chokes for the boy who dies with a smile on his face beside the body of his chum, the enemy. (Ward Greene)

37) Our picture Birth of a Nation does show historic events which your New York Globe undertake to use for an entirely different argument. We have contrasted the bad with the good following the formula of the best dramas of the world we establish our ideals by revealing the victory of right over wrong. (D. W. Griffith 78)

38) In view of the splendors of national reunion what should be the attitude of every right-minded person toward attempts to revive the passions of the Civil War period, relight the fires of sectionalism, and intensify race prejudices that are unhappily still much alive? The questions sufficiently answer themselves, and when they are answered there is no reason to ask further question of whether it is desirable, for purely sordid reasons, to exhibit such a moving-picture film as the so called The Birth of a Nation. (New York Globe)

39) The assassination of Lincoln is presented with a careful attention to detail that gives it a real historic interest. . . . But all this is subordinated to the immoral lesson which the play is designed to teach, that the negro is ever a savage and must not under any circumstances be allowed to vote or to rise from a servile or subordinate position. (Independent)

40) The right of free speech has cost centuries upon centuries of untold sufferings and agonies; it has cost rivers of blood; it has taken as its toll uncounted fields littered with the carcasses of human beings, all this that there might come to live and survive that wonderful thing, the power of free speech. (D. W. Griffith)

41) It is impossible to witness the film drama The Birth of a Nation . . . and not want to say something about it. (Charles Parkhurst 102)

42) I find it interesting that we may not be learning the real history of the 1860s through the movie, but we are learning about what white Americans thought of blacks in 1915. (Travis Statham, Lehigh University)

43) The greatest field which the motion picture has is the treating of historic subjects: as a great man has said of a certain motion picture, "It is like teaching history by lightning." (D. W. Griffith 98)

44) It was the uniform contention of the Southern spokesmen –- the press, the clergy, and the politicians –- that the slaves liked their status. (Gallagher and Nolan)

45) I was a little offended at the sexism in the film. All of the women were stupid. The little sister jumped to her death when she easily could have just run away, and Elsie flailed around like a maniac whenever anything remotely bad happened. (Kiera Berkemeyer, Lehigh University)

46) The Birth of a Nation remains the most controversial American film ever made. (Fred Silva)

47) Whatever happened during Reconstruction, this film is aggressively vicious and defamatory. It is spiritual assassination. It degrades the censors that passed it and the white race that endures it. (Francis Hackett)

48) [Birth of a Nation] is in this respect exactly true to history, and if it reflects upon the negro as he was then it is a compliment to the black man of today. An exhibition of lawlessness might not have been proper thirty or forty years ago. Such proprieties change with the passing of time. (Charles Parkhurst)

49) The Bible plainly teaches that there was in the Garden of Eden a beast that could reason, dispute and walk erect. And when we appeal to science to identify this creature, she points us to the Negro, as the highest grade of ape and the only creature among the lower kinds of flesh that possesses these characteristics. (Charles Carroll 102)

50) For Negroes, their failure in the fight against Birth of a Nation was another reminder that the scant progress made in the Roosevelt years was not necessarily inevitable and that the Wilson era was a time of troubles characterized by a Jim Crow federal government, lynching, and the seed-time of a new Ku Klux Klan. The controversy also demonstrated the seriousness with which films had come to be regarded both as creators and reflectors of opinions and attitudes after only two decades of existence. (Thomas Cripps)

51) Why censor the motion picture -- the laboring man's university? Fortunes are spent every year in our country in teaching the truths of history, that we may learn from the mistakes of the past a better way for the present and future. The truths of history today are restricted to the limited few attending our colleges and universities; the motion picture can carry these truths to the entire world, without cost, while at the same time bringing diversion to the masses. (D. W. Griffith)

52) The story of the creation was told in eight words, but should the pen of another Moses be raised today he would need ten times that number of pages to do credit to The Birth of a Nation. (Ward Greene)

53) Griffith picturized an allegorical conception at the end showing what universal peace meant to the nation. Some may not care for it, but in the church neighborhoods and where the staunchest of the peace advocates live it will go with a hurrah. (Mark Vance)

54) In this masterpiece of motion-picture production, he says, we may see something of the possibilities of the art as an educator of the human race through the most royal of the senses, the eye. The scenes represent the welding of a loose union of sovereign states into a real nation in the titanic forge of the Civil War. That the story as told by the pictures is true the Reverend Doctor Gregory is ready to swear on the Bible, the Koran, the Zen, and all the other “Holy Scriptures” put together. He knows it's true because he lived through the actual realities themselves. He saw the real carpet-baggers, the real “New Voters,” the real reconstruction “Statesmen,” the real Ku Klux Klanners. He is prepared to say that not one of the more than five thousand pictures that go to make up the wonderful drama is in any essential way an exaggeration. (Current Opinion)

55) We have no wish to offend with indecencies or obscenities, but we do demand, as a right, the liberty to show the dark side of wrong, that we may illuminate the bright side of virtue, the same liberty that is conceded to the art of the written word, that art to which we owe the Bible and the works of Shakespeare. (D. W. Griffith)

56) Such a play, insulting as it is to a large part of our population and arousing the worst sentiments in the rest, is, in our opinion, vastly more dangerous in its influence than the obscenity or lessons in practical burglary which are now quite rightly ruled out. (Independent)

57) This drama is a telling illustration of the possibilities of motion pictures as an instrument of instruction in history. (Charles Parkhurst 103)

58) Not one of the more than five thousand pictures that go to make up the wonderful drama is in any essential way an exaggeration. They are one and all faithful to historic fact . . . so that, looking upon them, you may feel that you are beholding that which actually happened.

59) For once the notion is accepted that Black men harbor irresistible and animal-like sexual urges, the entire race is invested with beastiality. (Angela Davis)

60) Having painted this insanely apprehensive picture of an unbridled, bestial, horrible race, relieved only by a few touches of low comedy, "the grim reaping begins." We see the operations of the Ku Klux Klan, "the organization that saved the South from the anarchy of black rule." We see Federals and Confederates uniting in a Holy War "in defense of their Aryan birthright," whatever that is. We see the Negroes driven back, beaten, killed. (Francis Hackett)

61) If I was viewing this in 1915, it would be very difficult to resist. I would have been participating in the movie-going experience for the first time. This is truly the first Hollywood blockbuster, with the first ever battle scene and thousands of extras. I only imagine those who arrive to the theater armed with a strong knowledge of the Civil War and Reconstruction would be able to see past the cinematic techniques -- the musical score, special effects, the historical claims, and the epic length. I imaging moviegoers rooting for the Klan at the end of the film, not realizing that they were being taught history that was packaged to tear at their emotions, not their intellect -- and that's a danger of learning history through movies. As Guy Debord said, we are a "society of the spectacle," and with that comes a lack of critical thinking. In other words, this almost wholly inaccurate narrative is packaged in such a breathtaking and razzle-dazzle way as to render the viewer, in Debord's words, "drugged by spectacular images." (Patrick O'Brien, Lehigh University)

62) A boy can learn more history and get more of the atmosphere of the period by sitting down for three hours before the film which Mr. Griffith has produced with such artistic skill than by weeks and months of study in the classroom. (Charles Parkhurst)

63) One purpose in [Dixon's] play was to create a feeling of abhorrence in white people, especially white women against colored men. Mr. Dixon said that his desire was to prevent the mixing of white and Negro blood of intermarriage. (Rolfe Cobleigh 82)

64) The architects of the Lost Cause acted from various motives. They collectively sought to justify their own actions and allow themselves and other former Confederates to find something positive in all-encompassing failure. (Gallagher and Nolan)

65) The scene of the "black congress" and the negro removing his shoe may be censured, but it's drawn from reported facts. (Mark Vance)

66) This novel [The Leopard's Spots] was at once the earliest and greatest of all Dixon's propaganda works. Into its writing went the logic of the lawyer, the social criticism of the reformer, the zeal of a religious prophet and an actor's sense of dramatic incident and timing. (Maxwell Bloomfield)

67) I also noticed how all of the black actors were actually white and just painted black as part of their costumes. I was really surprised at this because it seems to suggest that the white people of 1915 felt the need to protect themselves from the black people just as much as the white southerner's after the civil war felt the need to protect themselves. In this way even the casting of the film promotes white innocence. (Kiera Berkemeyer, Lehigh University)

68) This play was not written to stir race hatred. It is the faithful record of the life of fifty years ago. It is no reflection on the cultured, decent negro of today. In it are sketched good negroes and bad negroes, good whites and bad whites. (Thomas Dixon 95)

69) While watching The Birth of a Nation is never going to be a pleasant experience in the contemporary era, I am convinced that, in general, the discomfort caused is worth the result, especially for the largely white and upper-class students whom I teach. (Paul McEwan)

70) The Rev. Thomas Dixon's Clansmen supplies the plot, but the film is much worse than the book because seeing a thing is more impressive than being told about it.

71) Griffith (like Dixon) admired Lincoln for his magnanimity and believed that if he has not been murdered, Reconstruction generally (and the radical Reconstruction after 1867 in particular) would not have happened. (Melvyn Stokes 188)

72) The reviewer for the Akron Beacon Journal reported that "there hasn't been a more enthusiastic audience in Akron for months, perhaps years' than the opening night audience which let loose 'unbridled cheering'." The Dayton Journal reviewer argued that the story did "not matter so much because the thrills are so numerous that one doesn't stop to wonder what a story has to do with it all." (Goodwin Berquist and James Greenwood)

73) The motion picture is a medium of expression as clean and decent as any mankind has ever discovered. A people that would allow the suppression of this form of speech would unquestionably submit to the suppression of that which we all consider so highly, the printing press. (D. W. Griffith)

74) [Dixon] is yellow because he recklessly distorts Negro crimes, gives them a disproportionate place in life, and colors them dishonestly to inflame the ignorant and the credulous. And he is especially yellow, and quite disgustingly and contemptibly yellow, because his perversions are cunningly calculated to flatter the white man and provoke hatred and contempt for the Negro. (Francis Hackett)

75) This film shouldn’t be called “The Birth of a Nation"; it should be called “Griffith’s Ideal Birth of a Nation.” (Michael Oelbaum, Lehigh University)

76) A carnival atmosphere reigned whenever this movie came to town [in South Carolina]. (John Hammond Moore)

77) Art, technology, advertising, the racism of Dixon -- all fell together into what Negroes took to be a malicious conspiracy. (Thomas Cripps)

78) The Birth of a Nation has been criticized and attempts have been made to suppress it. If history should be suppressed in schools for children, The Birth of a Nation should be suppressed in a theater of thinking people. The picture is vindicated by historical facts, and does not attempt to misinterpret or warp these facts for the purpose of dragging from their graves prejudices that have been dead long since. (Ned McIntosh)

79) For what southerners needed, and what a motion picture like The Birth of a Nation could in part provide, was a way to reconcile regional knowledge and suffering with the concept of national innocence, violence with harmony, and an inescapable past with a faith in unhampered progress. Finally, it could provide a sense of mission -- a belief that the violence, suffering, and injustice so much a part of southern life before and after 1860 had been the means to a much greater, more significant national destiny. In other words, they needed a myth to replace the one shattered by the Civil War and Reconstruction. (F. Garvin Davenport)

80) [African Americans] had strong reason to be angry. Griffith's Civil War epic showed that it was still possible to capitalize on racist themes to attract enormous audiences. More than one historian has called the first fourteen years of the twentieth century the nadir of American civil rights. 'The Birth of a Nation's success unquestionably reflected the Negro's abiding unpopularity among the American whites. (Raymond Merritt)

81) Rather than being an historical film, Birth of a Nation, as some of its shrewdest observers noted, was essentially a romance set against a historical background. (Melvyn Stokes)

82) Toward the close of his ministry [Dixon] was reportedly attracting larger congregations than any other Protestant preacher in the country. While this personal acclaim did not prevent him from deserting the pulpit after 1900, it did indicate that he had already gained some invaluable experience in the art of mass persuasion. (Maxwell Bloomfield)

83) Ancient Greece had her Homer. Modern America has her David W. Griffith. It was for Homer to show the glory and the grandeur and the heroics of war. It is for Griffith to show the horrors and hideousness and hell of it. (Ned McIntosh)

84) Wilson, Dixon, and Griffith and their large fraternity of racist intellectuals had supplied a fabulous history, a white history, which portrayed the white as the forever normal, forever real, the race responsible for the order of the world, the race which was the destiny of the species, the true subject of world history and its civilisations. (Deric Robinson)

85) The evil in The Birth of a Nation lies in the fact that the play is both a denial of the power of development within a free Negro and an exaltation of race war. (John Hammond Moore)

86) [Dixon's] efforts were directed at leading American society back to the essential elements of the American Dream, and for Dixon these essentials centered on agrarian simplicity and white supremacy. (F. Garvin Davenport)

87) It was as inconceivable to the southerners that rational men of the North should seriously approve of negro suffrage per se as it had been in 1860 to the northerners that rational men of the South should approve of secession per se. Hence, in the one case as in the other, a craving for political power was assumed to be the only explanation of an otherwise unintelligible proceeding. (William A. Dunning 111)

88) When a colleague dared question the wisdom of his [Thaddeus Stevens'] policy, he replied with studied contempt that he did not propose either to take his counsel, recognize his authority, or believe a word he says. (Claude Bowers)

89) President Johnson's plan of dealing with the South called for no fundamental changes, nor did it in this time of confusion contemplate seizing the opportunity to increase the powers of the national government. In his opinion the war had been an unpleasant and unfortunate episode in the life of the nation, and should be forgotten as soon as possible. This was not the idea, however, of the rising consciousness in the North which was politically directed by the Radical Republicans in Congress, and which was beginning to crystallize in schemes to be applied to the South as well as to the whole country. (E. Merton Coulter 113)

90) The ending battle scene put the KKK in a light I have never experienced them. They were heroes, doing what they could to protect their own. It was an incredibly strange feeling: almost as if I was cheering them on in the end, but then I resisted as I remembered all of the terrible things the KKK has done. (Mary Brune, Lehigh University)

91) If Birth of a Nation could be established as "history" through the re-creation of historical incidents in the first part, the credibility of the second part, largely based on Dixon’s extravagant fiction, would be greatly enhanced. (Melvyn Stokes 189)

92) If the film was a cruel slander upon a weak and helpless race, then the race must learn to use its money for films, poetry, music and its own history. (W. E. B. DuBois, qtd in Cripps)

93) But the movie created the greatest stir chiefly because it was the nearest to fine art that the cinema had achieved. It reached a technical brilliance, an "art by lightning flash," a kind of visual music with its own rhythm and logic. . . . Few viewers could distinguish between art and ax-grinding, technique and content. (Thomas Cripps)

94) Several critics expressed confidence that the drama's historical validity would force northerners to realize their past mistakes and sympathize with the situation in which white southerners still found themselves. (John Inscoe)

95) It makes you laugh and moves you to hot tears unashamed. It makes you love and hate. It makes you forget decorum and forces a cry into your throat. It thrills you with horror and moves you to marvel at vast spectacles. It makes you actually live through the greatest period of suffering and trial that this country has ever known. (Ned McIntosh)

96) It is generally conceded that Birth of a Nation will always be considered the film which gave the motion picture its stature as an art form, the film which brought to the world the realization that this medium, for good or evil, was perhaps the most powerful agency which had ever been devised for moving the minds of men. (Raymond Cook)

97) Compared to Gus, Lynch is sophisticated in his appearance and demeanor, and the fact that he is a politician allows him to be viewed as less offensive as an attacker than the beastly looking Gus. But the film conveys the message: blacks, despite their sophistication, cannot disconnect themselves from beastliness; being black renders them beastly attackers, desirous of white women. (Charlene Regester)

98) The real purpose of this bill [the Sullivan Bill] is to destroy one film play, The Birth of a Nation. (D. W. Griffith)

99) The scenes represent the welding of a loose union of sovereign states into a real nation in the titanic forge of the Civil War.

100) And after it’s all over, you are not raging nor shot with hatred, but mellowed into a deeper and purer understanding of the fires through which your forefathers battled to make this South of yours a nation reborn! (Ward Greene)

101) Whatever fault might be found with the argumentative spirit found in both the titles and the pictures there can be no question that the appeal to the imagination will carry the picture a good way toward popular success. . . . It is altogether probable that its many fine points will outweigh its disadvantages in every other section of the country. (W. Stephen Bush)

102) He [Griffith] is indeed a pioneer, but a pioneer of prejudice! (Peter Noble 81)

103) The front teeth of the White, set perpendicularly in the jaw, find their strongest contrast in the front teeth of the Negro, which set slanting in the jaw. This is another character of the ape which the Negro presents. (Charles Carroll 25)

104) Whatever a few negro agitators in Boston may think about “The Birth of a Nation,” it expresses the passionate faith of the entire white population of the South. If I am wrong, they are wrong. (Thomas Dixon 91)

105) One of the ugliest artifacts of American popular art. (Scott Simmon)

106) Southerners were unchangeably conservative in every thought and relationship, and it was this conservatism which they were defending as much as anything else in their fight against Radical Reconstruction. (E. Merton Coulter 383)

107) Griffith played on the myth of the Negro's high-powered sexuality, he articulated the great white fear that every black man longs for a white woman. Underlying the fear was the assumption that the white woman was the ultimate in female desirability, herself a symbol of white pride, power, and beauty. (Donald Bogle)

108) The Birth of a Nation began as a film based on Thomas Dixon's novel about the Ku Klux Klan. Although Dixon would later claim that some of his earliest memories dealt with the Klan (including watching the hanging of a black convict convicted of raping a white women), it is impossible to establish the correctness of his assertions. (Melvyn Stokes)

109) [Griffith] knew the South and he knew what kind of picture would please all white classes. (Mark Vance)

110) From the first frame, Griffith demanded the right “to show the dark side of wrong . . . [and] illuminate the bright side of virtue,” even going so far as to compare his art to that of the Bible and Shakespeare. Griffith certainly can’t be accused of lack of hubris. As a filmmaker in a nascent industry, I can’t deny that the man did make significant contributions to the craft. However, as a human being, he left much to be desired in the morals department. So as a student of reels, I’ll try to imagine myself as David O. Selznick, who would have been 13- or 14-years-old at the time, or maybe Orson Welles who might have caught this “masterpiece” on re-release in the ‘30s, and comment on pioneering film techniques while at the same time trying to suppress my outrage as a student of history. (Lynn Farley, Lehigh University)

111) I gave to my best knowledge the proven facts, and presented the known truth, about the Reconstruction period in the American South. These facts are based on an overwhelming compilation of authentic evidence and testimony. (D. W. Griffith)

112) The truth is, that with [President Woodrow] Wilson as his principal academic authority, Griffith depicts the history of the tragic and turbulent Reconstruction Period in the South with a degree of authenticity, documentation, objectivity and scholarship, seldom if ever equaled on the screen. (Seymour Stern)

113) The desire of Griffith and the film’s other promoters to convey more than just historical accuracy is also visible in their attempts to frame the film with an aura of moral and religious authority by obtaining statements from ministers, teachers and other prominent citizens to the effect that they liked The Birth of a Nation and recommended it to others. (Richard Salter)

114) Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s theatre . . . ties the film's fictional story line effectively to a major historical event. (Melvyn Stokes 189)

115) Your New York Globe editorial is an insult to the intelligence and the human kindness of nearly 100,000 of the best people in New York City, who have viewed this picture from artistic interests and not through and depraved tastes such as you try to indicate. (D. W. Griffith 78)

116) In his personal relations [President Woodrow] Wilson made no distinction between educated and accomplished Negroes and whites. He treated both with great personal respect and courtesy. But he did distinguish between the great mass of white and colored paces and on different evolutionary levels of civilization. In this sense he was convinced of the contemporary superiority of whites. (Henry Blumenthal)

117) The Lost Cause was expressly a rationalization, a cover-up. It is, therefore, distinctly marked by Southern advocacy. (Gallagher and Nolan)

118) Still more dangerous than such a play would be to have the American people put into the hands of any officials the power to decide what is good history and bad, and to suppress any films that they regard as likely to have an injurious influence on public sentiment.

119) Bad things occurred, but what man will say that the outrage of black on white equaled in number the outrages of white on black? Which race even to the present day has the better right to complain of the unfairness and brutality of the other? (New York Globe)

120) But all this is subordinated to the immoral lesson which the play is designed to teach, that the negro is ever a savage and must not under any circumstances be allowed to vote or to rise from a servile or subordinate position. (Independent)

121) Fear is usually the only thing that controls them [Negroes]. Very few of the finer feelings find any lodgment in their natures. Having been once taught to obey, they do moderately well. (Charles Carroll 35)

122) What disgusts me most here is the use of vulnerable white women to desensitize the guilt felt towards black suppression and to create justification and glorification of the Ku Klux Klan. Griffith portrays the KKK as a group of heroes needed in the village to defend the women from these hostile animals. To think that whites might try to excuse our shameful history by emphasizing how delicate and victimized the women could possibly have been, with white men acting as heroes who came to their rescue, is completely historically inaccurate and utterly embarrassing for women of today. Would we really rather view ourselves as incapable accessories to powerful white men in an attempt to deny the disgrace brought on by the KKK’s existence as a racist, violent movement? (Kelley Higgins, Lehigh University)

123) While exploiting every traditional racial stereotype, most of them passive and unthreatening, the film introduces the relatively new image of the Negro as aggressor. . . . No matter whether black people are depicted as evil or sympathetic, they are all dehumanized. (Leon Litwack)

124) In fact, all the white characters in the film are pictured as good, noble and true--except those who have mistakenly allied themselves with nonwhites. (Brian Gallagher)

125) I had read about Birth of a Nation, and I show excerpts in class. I was aware of the ties between Woodrow Wilson and the film and, still, watching the film in its entirety was a tough pill. I watched it with a fellow teacher (we’re at a graduate seminar together), and we wound up injecting dialogue -- sometimes funny, sometimes inappropriate (especially when Elsie was pining for the phallic “Little Colonel” -- i.e. getting cozy with her bed post) -- which I suppose was a coping mechanism. If we didn’t laugh at it, we would have spent the entire three hours on a soapbox (it reminded me of the two old guys from the Muppets). Amazingly, our inappropriate and extremely sarcastic dialogue was actually accurate to describe the actions of the characters. (Patrick O'Brien, Lehigh University)