How many of those reading this have seen the 1915 D.W. Griffiths film BIRTH OF A NATION? This film is a classic. It is also a disgusting celebration of the Ku Klux Klan. Purporting to tell the story of both the Civil War and the Reconstruction era, this film presented the racist view of Reconstruction. Unfortunately, that was the view that dominated American historiography from 1900 to the 1960s. This analysis was known as the “Dunning School” after a professor at Columbia University William A. Dunning. He and his Ph D students developed a “story” about Reconstruction after the Civil War that had at its jumping off point the “inability” of black Americans to “handle” the right to vote and other political opportunities. This led, according to the writers in the Dunning School, to corruption, mismanagement of government, and social atrocities such as the legalization of intermarriage. Manipulated by people coming South (dubbed “carpetbaggers”) and white Southerners (dubbed scalawags) who joined with carpetbaggers and ignorant blacks to form “radical Reconstruction” governments, the freed slaves brought a reign of corruption and debauchery down on the South. Historian Claude Bowers summarized the views of the Dunning School in his 1929 book The Tragic Era, The Revolution After Lincoln. Some have argued that he wrote the book to flesh out the theme of Griffith’s movie.