D.W. Griffith Presents "The Birth of a Nation" Page: 18 of 20
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found guilty. Then the Ku Klux Klan sent a messenger to the Titan of the adjoining
county asking for re-inforcements to overawe the carpet-baggers and negroes.
The next outrage upon the unhappy family was the arrest of Dr. Cameron for having
harbored the clansmen. As the soldiers were parading him to jail, Phil Stoneman, now
a warm sympathizer with the southerons, and some others organized a rescue party.
They beat down the militia; the Doctor and his wife, Margaret, Phil and the faithful
servants fled out into the country where they found refuge and warm hospitality in the
log cabin of two Union veterans. The cabin was fortified and preparations were made
against the militia's attack.
We must now leave the handful of whites defending the log cabin from the militiamen
and visit Lieutenant-Governor Lynch's mansion in Piedmont. Miss Elsie Stoneman
is there on the errand of appealing to Lynch, the "friend" of her father in behalf
of her brother and the Camerons. But instead Lynch siezes this opportunity to declare
his "love" for his patron's beautiful daughter, says he will make her queen of his empire,
and orders a negro chaplain to be sent for to perform a forced marriage. At this crucial
moment, word is received of Congressman Stoneman's return. Lynch goes out to tell
him that he (Lynch) aspires to the hand of the white man's daughter. Then Stoneman,
the "social equalizer," the theoretical upholder of the intermarriage of blacks and whites,
finds all his theories upset by the personal fact. Rage and storm as he will, Stoneman
too is helpless. There is but one hope anywhere in prospect-the courageous and chivalric
host of Ku Klux riding for dear life towards Piedmont.
Ben Cameron, the "little Colonel," is at their head. They are armed to the teeth
and pledged to victory or death. As they rush the little mountain town, their guns mow
down the militia troops opposing them; the Lynch mansion is taken, and Ben and his
men bursting into the room free the Stonemans, Ben taking the overjoyed Elsie in his
arms. But there is other work afoot. Quickly a detachment of the clansmen remount
and hurry to the scene of the attack of the cabin. The little party within its besieged
walls are almost at the last gasp. The militia raiders are forcing the doors, already half
a dozen of them have gained the inside of the cabin, when the crack! crack! crack! of
the Ku Klux rifles announce rescue and safety. The surprise attack routs the raiders
completely, and the men and women of the party hug and kiss their deliverers.
There is little left to tell. To Ben and Elsie, to Phil and Margaret, the sequel is
a beautiful double honeymoon by the sea. To the American people, the outcome of
four years of fratricidal strife, the nightmare of Reconstruction, and the establishment
of the South in its rightful place, is the birth of a new nation. Lincoln's plan of restoring
the negroes to Africa was dreamed of only, never carried out. The new nation, the real
United States, as the years glided by, turned away forever from the blood-lust of War
and anticipated with hope the world-millenium in which a brotherhood of love should
bind all the nations together.
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/m1/18/: accessed June 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Boyce Ditto Public Library.