D.W. Griffith Presents "The Birth of a Nation" Page: 15 of 20
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THE STORY OF THE PICTURE
HE FIRST ship that brought a cargo of African slaves
| to North America started the series of troublous events
preceding the birth of a great nation. Abolition was
subsequently advocated, but the idea of social equality
was never considered. The South declared it would
secede, if in 1860 a Republican president was elected.
That president, Abraham Lincoln, issued a call for
75,000 volunteers. For the first time in American
annals he used the Federal power to subdue the
sovereignty of individual States.
The Stoneman boys of Pennsylvania had been
house guests at Piedmont, S. C., of their boardingschool
chums, the Cameron boys. Phil Stoneman and
Margaret Cameron, "fair as a flower," had looked,
longed and loved. Ben Cameron had never met Elsie
Stoneman, yet the daguerreotype of her he had pilfered
from Phil seemed about the dearest, sweetest thing in
the world. The younger lads of the two houses-too
young for sentiment and romance-frolicked like
friendly young colts. Most charming and lovable of
all the Cameron clan was the Doctor and Mrs.
Cameron's youngest daughter Flora.
When War casts its shadow over the land, Phil and Tod Stoneman are summoned
to fight for the Stars and Stripes; Ben Cameron and his two younger brothers, for the
Stars and Bars. The grim years drag along. Piedmont gayly enters the conflict, but
ruin and devastation follow. The town gets a foretaste of rapine and pillage in the raid
of a mixed body of white and colored guerillas against it. The scale of events inclines
to the Union cause. Southern wealth and resources are burned or commandeered by
Sherman in his march to the sea. Meantime two of the Cameron boys have perished
in battle, one of them face to face with his dying Chum Tod. Grant is pressing the Confederacy
in the famous campaign around Petersburg. When Confederate supplies are
running low, one of their provision trains is cut off and the "little Colonel," Ben Cameron,
is called upon by Gen. Lee to lead a counter attack and thus, by diverting the enemy,
aid in the rescue of the train. We see the panorama of a battlefield flung over many
miles of mountain and valley, the opposing intrenchments and the artillery fire, Col.
Cameron and his men forming for the advance, their charge over broken ground, the
grim harvest of death that swept most of them away, the bayonet rush of the devoted
few right up to the trenches, the physical hand-grapple with the enemy, and Cameron,
Here’s what’s next.
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Griffith, D.W. D.W. Griffith Presents "The Birth of a Nation", book, April 1, 1924; New York. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth21924/m1/15/: accessed July 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Boyce Ditto Public Library.