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In 1915, 50 years after the end of the Civil War, D.W. Griffith, released his epic film Birth of a Nation. The greatest blockbuster of the silent era, Birth of a Nation was seen by an estimated 200 million Americans by 1946.Based on a novel by a Baptist preacher named Thomas Dixon, the film painted Reconstruction, the period following the Civil War, as a time when vengeful former slaves, opportunistic white scalawags, and corrupt Yankee carpetbaggers plundered and oppressed the former Confederacy until respectable white...
Few works of history have exerted as powerful an influence as a book published in 1944 called Capitalism and Slavery. Its author, Eric Williams, later the prime minister of Trinidad and Tabago, charged that black slavery was the engine that propelled Europe's rise to global economic dominance. He maintained that Europeans' conquest and settlement of the New World depended on the enslavement of millions of black slaves, who helped...