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See the extensive bibliography (divided into print, video/audio, and online resources) below the essay.

Melvyn Stokes, D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation: "Partly because of his Southern background and partly because of the criticisms made of himself and his film, Griffith could never accept that Birth of a Nation was primarily fiction. He had to insist it was true. In reality, however, his fiction was built on -- and also helped nurture -- a series of historical myths that had grown up around the Civil War and its after-effects: the myth of the 'Lost Cause'; of a saintly, compassionate Abraham Lincoln; of a 'Tragic era' of 'Black Reconstruction'; and of the Ku Klux Klan as the chivalrous saviors of white civilization" (178). Stokes examines each of these topics in detail in subsequent pages.

Print Resources

Blumenthal, Henry. "Woodrow Wilson and the Race Question." Journal of Negro History 48.1 (1963): 1-21.
Wilson did not simply approach "the race question from a Southern point of view." Rather, he attempted to solve the issues that were most "paramount," as he did while president of Princeton University. Wilson encouraged that all African-American applications be withdrawn in order to maintain "social peace." While running for president, Wilson tried to be neutral, taking into consideration both the African-American and white vote. Wilson was warned that if he supported social equality that "the south could not afford to support him for president." Thus, Wilson made vague promises of equality to African-Americans. After Wilson's inauguration, African-Americans were "shocked" by the anti-colored reforms. The Federal Government installed color lines in various departments and segregated" offices, lunch rooms, and lavatories," preventing many African-Americans from holding Federal offices and undermining their ability to make pro- African-American reforms. To prevent "deterioration of the status" of African-Americans, Wilson appointed Judge Robert H. Terrell to the Municipal Court of the District of Colombia. Wilson later admitted to Oswald Villard that the "Negro question" was too difficult for him to solve. Realizing that Wilson wasn't going to help them, African-Americans took matters into their own hands, forming the NAACP, which had 329 members in 1912 and increased to 100,000 by 1921.
Calhoun, William P. The Caucasian and the Negro in the United States. Columbia: Bryan Co., 1902.
The tenor of this example of early 20th century racism can be gathered from the title page: "They Must Separate. If Not, Then Extermination."
Carroll, Charles. The Tempter of Eve, Or The Criminality of Man's Social, Political, and Religious Equality with the Negro, and the Amalgamation to which these Crimes Inevitably Lead. St. Louis: Adamic Library, 1902.
Gives some concrete indication of a racist strain prevalent at the turn of the century. Carroll's slant might be suggested by a childhood observation that "the negro and the monkey belonged to the same family."
Coulter, E. Merton.The South during Reconstruction 1865-1918 Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1947.
Coulter explicitly states that his book is written through a Southern perspective and records the Southern politics, economics, and culture during Reconstruction as historically as possible. His specific depiction of Southern culture, such as the chapter "Georgia Plantation from 1860-1881," exposes the emotion and sentiment felt by Southerners during the Reconstruction period. Through this strategy, Coulter criticizes the Northern Radicals for their harsh policies on the Southerners that support the Dunningite title for Reconstruction as the "The Tragic Era."
Davenport, F. Gavin, Jr. "Thomas Dixon's Mythology of Southern History." Journal of Southern History 36.3 (1970): 350-67.
Davenport relates the film Dixon's novels, all of which contain racial themes. Dixon's four root concepts that contribute to his overall mythological view of the South include southern uniqueness, union, mission, and southern burden. Each novel exemplified situations of Southern superiority, triumph, and racism ring true. Dixon claims recurrently that the Southern way of life, free of industrialization and clad in American spirit, hold the true key to the definition of Americanism. Davenport also discusses the South's argument that through the difficult experiences of the reconstruction era they have proven their moral superiority to the North, for instance, in their ability to triumph against the "corruption and degradation" existent in the North because of industrialization. Southerners claim "pastoral uniqueness" in their projected visions of pastures and beautiful fielded landscapes. However, Davenport brings to the surface the underlying meanings of these claims and , in turn, the four major arguments. The south uses these slogans to "defend against the Negro and industrialism" as if there was a link between the two. In essence, Davenport's essay serves to pry at the seemingly logical arguments the South upholds as a shield against its racist roots and fears of inadequacy.
Davis, Angela. "Rape, Racism and the Myth of the Black Rapist." Women, Race & Class. New York: Vintage, 1983. 173-269.
Davis explores how the myth of the black rapist came about. She suggests that there was a lot of history that led up to the fabrication of such a vulgar myth, but that at its core, the lie was a result of a yearning for control. White men, she points out could not let go of their hold on the black men so easily. Thus, they invented a myth which viewed the black men as primitive, vengeful, and ultimately rooted in evil, to justify control over them. Writng a book equally focused on women's rights, Davis also reveals both the maltreatment and rising power of women, explaining how black women were targeted even before the myth of the black rapist arose, and developed their own set of connotations known as the myth of the bad black women. While black women during slavery would not have dared to speak out against this unfair characteristic, Davis writes about how they stood up for their men once slavery ended. She highlights the National Association of Colored Women and how they reached out to white women in order to shut down the myth that was tearing apart the south.
Dixon, Thomas. Reply to the New York Globe. New York Globe 10 April 1915. Silva 75-77. Lang 166-67.
Dixon's response to the Globe is a challenge for the editor to actually find something factually wrong with his book and the film. He accuses the editor of attacking him without even solid evidence to back it up, specifically a quote by the Globe accusing Dixon of portraying the Stonemans of Washington as "paramours of quadroon mistresses, moved by petty spite." Dixon retaliates with detailed paragraphs of the true story of Thaddeus Stevens and the quadroon Negress he forced to live with him, away from her own husband, until Stevens' death. He invites the Globe to question the validity of any of the facts he presents, declaring that he will remove his play from the stage if any established historians find them false. Arguing that he is merely portraying history as it happened from a light that may not be viewed as moral by all, he finishes by asking the thought-provoking question,"is it a crime to present a bad black man, seeing we have so many bad white ones?"
Dunning, William Archibald. Reconstruction, Political and Economic, 1865-1877. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1907.
Classic exposition of how Reconstruction policies engineered by the North ruined the South. Initiated the Dunning School of History, a succession of historians who saw Reconstruction as a "Tragic Era" for the South.
Franklin, John Hope. Birth of a Nation--Propaganda as History." The Massachusetts Review 20 (1979): 417-33. Reprinted in Race and History: Selected Essays 1938-1988. Ed. John Hope Franklin. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1989. 10-24.
While most criticism Griffith's depiction of historical events, Franklin places the blame at the feet of Dixon: "the supreme tragedy is that in The Clansmen and in Birth of a Nation, Thomas Dixon succeeded in using a powerful and wonderful new instrument of communication to perpetuate a cruel hoax on the American people that has come distressingly close to being permanent." Franklin documents Dixon's obsession with the Reconstruction era and the belief in white supremacy. He traces Dixon's feelings back to his experience visiting the South Carolina state legislature at the age of eight. Franklin goes on to chronicle Dixon's rise to fame as the successful author of a trilogy of books depicting his interpretation of the Reconstruction, contending that the criticism Dixon received as far outweighed by praise for his writing. Franklin briefly discusses Dixon's adaptation of his successful novel into the widely known play of the same name. The success of this play lead to Dixon's desire to see his work depicted on the silver screen. Franklin argues that Griffith's film is closely derived from not only Dixon's Clansmen but also from his first novel, The Leopard's Spots. Dixon set out on a stealthy maneuver to make sure that his ideas represented in Griffith's film were seen by the general public throughout the entire country. In doing so Dixon bypassed moral methods of approval and, instead, went straight to President Wilson, an old college friend, for approval and then to members of the Supreme Court. While Dixon spoke publicly about the historical accuracy of both the film and his publications, his personal agenda had never been to provide a realistic interpretation of fact. Franklin maintains that is was this agenda that brought on a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, along with a new generation of writers to carry on his sentiments.
Gallagher, Gary W., and Alan T. Nolan. The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2000.
Gallagher and Nolan list the eight different main assertions of the Lost Cause., explaining that "the Lost Cause was expressly a rationalization, a cover-up. . . . distinctly marked by Southern advocacy." The Southerners felt the need to "justify the existence of slavery," even from the time before the war. The "claims of the legend" are as follows: slavery was not the sectional issue; the Abolitionists were "troublemakers and provocateurs"; the South would have given up slavery without the war; the slaves "liked their status"; the war was caused because of a nationalistic and cultural difference between the North and South; the Confederates did not have enough man-power and material; Southern culture is superior; the Confederate Soldier was "invariably heroic, indefatigable, gallant, and law-abiding"; and, finally, the Southern military leaders were seen as "saintly creatures." To fully understand the Lost Cause, it is important to know these specific statements that the South claimed were true.
Simcovitch, Maxim. "The Impact of Griffith's Birth of a Nation on the Modern Ku Klux Klan." Journal of Popular Film 1.1 (1972): 45-54.
Simcovitch proposes two pivotal questions when considering the influence Griffith's film had in establishing the modern version of the Ku Klux Klan. He believes it is necessary to first look at how the film assisted "in bringing about the development" of the Klan and to consider the "circumstances and events surrounding the film" by the group. Simcovitch takes readers through the modern Klan's inception and their relationship with the film, along with its use within the group. He then discusses the film's use as a recruitment tool throughout much of the twentieth century. Although its use as propaganda slowed as the Klan adopted new methods of communication available in today's society, Simcovitch contends that the film still holds an important place in the organization.

See Also

Ayers, Edward L. The Promise of the New South: Life after Reconstruction. New York: Oxford UP, 1992.

Bowers, Claude. The Tragic Era: The Revolution after Lincoln. Cambridge: Houghton Mifflin, 1929.

Brodie, Fawn M. Thaddeus Stevens: Scourge of the South. New York: W. W. Norton, 1959.

Carroll, Charles. The Negro a Beast. St. Louis: American Book, 1900. http://www.biblical-truth.info/In%20the%20Image%20of%20God%20-%20by%20Charles%20Carroll.pdf

Chalmers, David M. Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan. Chicago: Quadrangle, 1968.

Du Bois, W. E. B. Black Reconstruction: An Essay toward a History of the Part which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America, 1860-1880. New York: Russell and Russell, 1935.

Dunning, William Archibald. Essays on the Civil War and Reconstruction and Related Topics. New York: Macmillan, 1897.

Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. New York: Harper and Row, 1988.

Franklin, John Hope. Reconstruction: After the Civil War. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1961.

Gaines, Francis Pendleton. The Southern Plantation: A Study in the Development and the Accuracy of a Tradition. New York: Columbia UP, 1925.

Peterson, Merrill D. Lincoln in American Memory. New York: Oxford UP, 1994.

Pike, James S. The Prostrate State: South Carolina under Negro Government. New York: D. Appleton, 1874.

Schwartz, Barry. Abraham Lincoln and the Forge of National Memory. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2000.

Shufeldt, Robert W. Negro: A Menace to American Civilization. Boston: Badger, Gorham Press, 1907. http://www.archive.org/stream/negromenacetoame00shuf#page/n3/mode/2up

Smith, John D., and John C. Inscoe, eds. Ulrich Bonnell Phillips: A Southern Historian and His Critics. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1993.

Tourgee, Albion W. A Fool's Errand by One of the Fools; Part II, The Invisible Empire, A Concise History of the Epoch on Which the Tale Is Base. New York: Fords, Howard and Hulbert, 1880.

Tourgee, Albion W. A Fool's Errand. Ed. John Hope Franklin. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1961.

Trelease, Allen W. White Terror: The Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy and Southern Reconstruction. London: Harper and Row, 1971.

Weinberger, Stephen. "The Birth of a Nation and the Making of the NAACP." Journal of American Studies 45.1 (2011): 77-93.

Wilson, Woodrow. A History of the American People, Vol. V, Reunion and Nationalization. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1902.

Online Resources

Active U.S. Hate Groups (Southern Poverty Law Center) http://www.splcenter.org/intel/map/hate.jsp
"The Southern Poverty Law Center counted 1,018 active hate groups in the United States in 2011. Only organizations and their chapters known to be active during 2011 are included." Find the hate group in your neighborhood!
American Lynching http://www.americanlynching.com/
Web site for a documentary film. See especially the "links" (a list of "lynching-related sites') and the link to "Infamous-lynchings."
Hate Watch (Southern Poverty Law Center) http://www.splcenter.org/center/petitions/standstrong/index.jsp
"The green on the map represents Americans standing strong against hate. The red dots represent documented hate groups."
The Knights Party, USA (The Ku Klux Klan) http://www.kkk.bz/
"Bringing a Message of Hope and Deliverance to White Christian America!" Be sure to see the links to other groups on the left side of the top page of the site.
Without Sanctuary. http://www.withoutsanctuary.org/
"Searching through America's past for the last 25 years, collector James Allen uncovered an extraordinary visual legacy: photographs and postcards taken as souvenirs at lynchings throughout America."