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“Gone with the Wind” published

“Gone with the Wind” published

Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, one of the best-selling novels of all time and the basis for a blockbuster 1939 movie, is published on June 30, 1936.

In 1926, Mitchell was forced to quit her job as a reporter at the Atlanta Journal to recover from a series of physical injuries. With too much time on her hands, Mitchell soon grew restless. Working on a Remington typewriter, a gift from her second husband, John R. Marsh, in their cramped one-bedroom apartment, Mitchell began telling the story of an Atlanta belle named Pansy O’Hara.

In tracing Pansy’s life from the antebellum South through the Civil War and into the Reconstruction era, Mitchell drew on the tales she had heard from her parents and other relatives, as well as from Confederate war veterans she had met as a young girl. The story presents a romanticized view of the Old South and does not engage with the horrors of slavery. While she was extremely secretive about her work, Mitchell eventually gave the manuscript to Harold Latham, an editor from New York’s MacMillan Publishing. Latham encouraged Mitchell to complete the novel, with one important change: the heroine’s name. Mitchell agreed to change it to Scarlett.

Published in 1936, Gone with the Wind caused a sensation in Atlanta and went on to sell millions of copies in the United States and throughout the world. The book drew criticism for its whitewashed depictions of slavery. Mitchell nonetheless won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937, and by that time a movie project was already in the works. The film was produced by Hollywood giant David O. Selznick, who paid Mitchell a record-high $50,000 for the film rights to her book.

After testing hundreds of unknowns and big-name stars to play Scarlett, Selznick hired British actress Vivien Leigh days after filming began.

Though she didn’t take part in the film adaptation of her book, Mitchell did attend its premiere in December 1939 in Atlanta. She died just 10 years later, after she was struck by a speeding car while crossing Atlanta’s Peachtree Street.


Gone with the Wind: A Publishing Phenomenon

Gone With the Wind— the book — was a publishing phenomenon. Not within memory had an American novel been so long (1,037 pages, a half-million words) or weighed so much (3.5 pounds).

MacMillan published GWTW at a time when the book industry, like all others in the U.S., was still suffering from the results of the Depression. At least one person was concerned about the enterprise: Margaret Mitchell.

“I do hope they sell five thousand copies,” she remarked, “so they don’t lose money.” In one day GWTW sold 50,000 copies.

The novel was published on June 30, 1936. It did not burst unheralded on the literary scene, contrary to popular legend. GWTW had already been made a selection of Book of the Month Club, and advance sales were remarkable for a first novel by such an unknown author, particularly for a book of such length.

No one was prepared for what followed. Within three weeks 176,000 copies had been sold at $3 per copy. In half a year, a million copies.


OTD in History… June 30, 1936, Margaret Mitchell’s epic of the old South Gone with the Wind published

On this day in history June 30, 1936, Margaret Mitchell’s epic Southern Civil War drama Gone w i th the Wind is first published, the best-selling book earns first-time author Mitchell a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937, and 80 years later has $30 million in sales and is second only to the Bible. Mitchell, a reporter at the Atlanta Journal, started writing the book while she was recovering from a leg injury in 1926. In secrecy, Mitchell drew on stories she heard of the old south from her childhood, combined with meticulous research to write her over 1,000-page drama spanning the antebellum, Civil War and Reconstruction periods. Almost immediately after publication, Hollywood film producer David O. Selznick paid Mitchell, a then-record $50,000 for the film rights, setting his sights on making the biggest blockbuster ever made in Hollywood.

Three years later on July 1, 1939, and after five months, filming wrapped up on the movie version of Gone with the Wind. The making of the movie was a production almost as long as the book. Selznick would wait two years to secure Clark Gable from MGM, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, who would distribute the film. Selznick would also go through multiple screenwriters, scripts, cinematographers, and directors before filming was complete. Principal photography began on January 26, and post-production ended November 11, 1939.

The race to fill the role of Scarlett would capture the media and public’s attention, the 1938s version of a reality show “Search for Scarlett,” with over 1,400 women including every high profile actress in Hollywood vying for the role until, British film actress Vivien Leigh, tested for it in December 1938. Selznick called Leigh his “Scarlett dark horse,” making it easier to choose her was his brother Myron Selznick was Leigh’s agent. Selznick would finally choose 25-year-old Leigh for the role.

Rounding out the other major roles were Clark Gable as Rhett Butler, Scarlett’s third husband, Leslie Howard as Scarlett’s unrequited love, Ashley Wilkes, and Olivia DeHavilland as his cousin and wife and Scarlett’s sister-in-law and best friend. The film’s cost went out of a control, and it was the most expensive ever made to that point. An early rough preview screening in September 1939, left the “audience cheering,” as David Thomson observed in biography Showman: The Life of David O. Selznick for Selznick it was “was the greatest moment of his life, the greatest victory, and redemption of all his failings.”

In December 1939, Gone with the Wind had a star-studded opening in Atlanta, Georgia at the Loews Grand Theatre, where 300,000 attended, topping off a three-day event celebrating the film and the Confederacy. The four-hour film would go on to win then a record ten Academy Awards out of 13 nominations, two of which were honorary. Among its wins includes Best Picture, Best Director (Victor Fleming), and Best Adapted Screenplay. Best actress went to Vivien Leigh playing Mitchell’s heroine Scarlett O’Hara and supporting actress to Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American to win an Academy Award for her portrayal of Scarlett’s beloved Mammy, a slave.

The book was controversial at the time for its romanticizing of the Antebellum and Confederate South, its language describing slaves, inclusion of the racist Ku Klux Klan, it’s sexualized depictions of marital rape and childbirth, and its most famous phrase “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn” uttered by Rhett Butler to Scarlett. Selznick toned down most of the racist language but the stereotypes remained. The movie is the biggest money-making film of all time when inflation is factored in and considered one of the best films ever made. It was re-released several times including on June 26, 1998, when it was remastered in its original format. Even up to the book and movie’s 75th anniversary, commentators acknowledged its racism but put it into context.

Now as the movie is approaching its 80th anniversary, Gone with the Wind is again controversial. With the Confederate monument removal movement after the 2015 Charleston church shooting and the violence at Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, many are questioning Gone with the Wind’s portrayal of the secessionist south and slavery as a racist ode to the Confederacy. So far, 110 Confederate monuments have been removed, and there are calls to remove Gone with the Wind as well. Last August 2017, the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, Tennessee, that played the movie each year for the past 34 years, declined to do so because of the film’s racial “insensitivity.” The move caused an outcry on social media for the beloved book and movie.

The cancellation of the screening made journalists question should the book and movie be part of the movement? The results were divided between those they believe it should be retired versus those who understand the film in its context and that it was not a political position on the South but about the individual characters and Scarlett O’Hara’s journey. The problem is many do not see Gone with the Wind as a work of fiction, not history. In 2008, preeminent reconstruction historian Eric Foner noted in a Washington Post book review, “The work of historians, however, has largely failed to penetrate popular consciousness. Partly because of the persistence of old misconceptions, Reconstruction remains widely misunderstood. Popular views still owe more to such films as “Birth of a Nation” (which glorified the Klan as the savior of white civilization) and “Gone With the Wind” (which romanticized slavery and the Confederacy) than to modern scholarship.”

African American writer Angelica Jade Bastien writing in Vulture called Gone with the Wind a “Cinematic Monument to the Confederacy” but concludes, the characters’ “great capacity for racism exists in tandem with their own admirable qualities, making them frustratingly human and trickier to demonize.” While Harvard Professor Cass R. Sunstein writes in the Atlantic, “Finding Humanity in Gone With the Wind The classic novel shows that individual lives cannot be reduced to competing sets of political convictions.” Sunstein does not see Gone with the Wind as political like the Confederate flag, and concludes, “It would be a mistake to disparage the sad magic of half-forgotten songs. Americans have good reason to remember the sweetness, and the deaths, of the countless real-world Tartletons — and never to dishonor those who grieve for them.”

On the opposite side, New York Post opinion writer Lou Lumenick in his article from 2015 believes “Gone with the Wind’ should go the way of the Confederate flag,” and argues it should be retired to museums. Lumenick finds “The more subtle racism of “Gone with the Wind’’ is in some ways more insidious, going to great lengths to enshrine the myth that the Civil War wasn’t fought over slavery — an institution the film unabashedly romanticizes.” While Ed Kilgore writing in 2017 concurs, declaring, “Yes, Gone with the Wind Is Another Neo-Confederate Monument.” In his New York Magazine article, where he argues that Gone with the Wind is “a neo-Confederate political symbol” not “an innocent piece of brilliant cinema and anachronistic history that’s under attack by the forces of political correctness,” as film critic Kyle Smith described it.

The debate over Gone with the Wind and its canceled screening is part of a greater trend where political correctness is going overboard on movies and books that depict a time where there were racial insensitivities. This includes a Biloxi, Mississippi public school district removing To Kill a Mockingbird from its reading list, and most recently the American Library Association removing author Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from a children’s book award. Classic books and movies with racial insensitivities are opportunities to be taught critically and in the context of the times, but we cannot selectively erase offensive history, if we do, we will be left with nothing to read or learn from our past.


&aposGone With the Wind&apos

The same year she was married, Mitchell landed a job with the Atlanta Journal Sunday magazine, where she ended up writing nearly 130 articles. Mitchell would get married a second time during this period, wedding John Robert Marsh in 1925. As seemed to be the case in Mitchell’s life, though, yet another good thing was to come to an end too quickly, as her journalist career ended in 1926 due to complications from a broken ankle.

With her broken ankle keeping Mitchell off her feet, in 1926 she began writing Gone With the Wind. Perched at an old sewing table, and writing the last chapter first and the other chapters randomly, she finished most of the book by 1929. A novel about the Civil War and Reconstruction, Gone With the Wind is told from a Southern point of view, informed by Mitchell’s family and steeped in the history of the South and the tragedy of the war.

In July 1935, New York publisher Macmillan offered her a $500 advance and 10 percent royalty payments. Mitchell set to finalizing the manuscript, changing characters&apos names (Scarlett was Pansy in earlier drafts), cutting and rearranging chapters and finally naming the book Gone With the Wind, a phrase from 𠇌ynara!, a favorite Ernest Dowson poem. Gone With the Wind was published in 1936 to huge success and took home the 1937 Pulitzer. Mitchell became an overnight celebrity, and the landmark film based on her novel came out just three years later and went on to become a classic, winning eight Oscars and two special Oscars.


Contents

In 1861, on the eve of the American Civil War, Scarlett O'Hara lives at Tara, her family's cotton plantation in Georgia, with her parents and two sisters and their many slaves. Scarlett learns that her secret crush Ashley Wilkes is to be married to his cousin, Melanie Hamilton. At an engagement party the next day at Ashley's home, the nearby plantation Twelve Oaks, Scarlett makes an advance on Ashley but is rebuffed instead, she catches the attention of another guest, Rhett Butler. The barbecue is disrupted by news of the declaration of war, and the men rush to enlist. In a bid to arouse jealousy in Ashley, Scarlett marries Melanie's younger brother Charles before he leaves to fight. Following Charles's death while serving in the Confederate States Army, Scarlett's mother sends her to the Hamilton home in Atlanta, where she creates a scene by attending a charity bazaar in her mourning attire and waltzing with Rhett, now a blockade runner for the Confederacy.

The tide of war turns against the Confederacy after the Battle of Gettysburg, in which many of the men of Scarlett's town are killed. Eight months later, as the city is besieged by the Union Army in the Atlanta Campaign, Melanie gives birth with Scarlett's aid, and Rhett helps them flee the city. Once out of the city, Rhett chooses to go off to fight, leaving Scarlett to make her own way back to Tara. Upon her return home, Scarlett finds Tara deserted, except for her father, her sisters, and former slaves Mammy and Pork. Scarlett learns that her mother has just died of typhoid fever and her father has lost his mind. With Tara pillaged by Union troops and the fields untended, Scarlett vows to ensure the survival of herself and her family.

As the O'Haras work in the cotton fields, Scarlett's father attempts to chase away a carpetbagger from his land but is thrown from his horse and killed. With the defeat of the Confederacy, Ashley also returns but finds he is of little help at Tara. When Scarlett begs him to run away with her, he confesses his desire for her and kisses her passionately, but says he cannot leave Melanie. Unable to pay the Reconstructionist taxes imposed on Tara, Scarlett dupes her younger sister Suellen's fiancé, the middle-aged and wealthy general store owner Frank Kennedy, into marrying her, by saying Suellen got tired of waiting and married another suitor. Frank, Ashley, Rhett, and several other accomplices make a night raid on a shanty town after Scarlett is attacked while driving through it alone, resulting in Frank's death. Shortly after Frank's funeral, Rhett proposes to Scarlett and she accepts.

Rhett and Scarlett have a daughter whom Rhett names Bonnie Blue, but Scarlett still pines for Ashley and, chagrined at the perceived ruin of her figure, refuses to have any more children or share a bed with Rhett. One day at Frank's mill, Scarlett and Ashley are seen embracing by Ashley's sister, India. Harboring an intense dislike of Scarlett, India eagerly spreads rumors. Later that evening, Rhett, having heard the rumors, forces Scarlett to attend a birthday party for Ashley. Melanie, however, stands by Scarlett. After returning home from the party, Scarlett finds Rhett downstairs drunk, and they argue about Ashley. Rhett kisses Scarlett against her will, stating his intent to have sex with her that night, and carries the struggling Scarlett to the bedroom.

The next day, Rhett apologizes for his behavior and offers Scarlett a divorce, which she rejects, saying that it would be a disgrace. When Rhett returns from an extended trip to London, Scarlett informs him that she is pregnant, but an argument ensues which results in her falling down a flight of stairs and suffering a miscarriage. As she is recovering, tragedy strikes when Bonnie dies while attempting to jump a fence with her pony. Scarlett and Rhett visit Melanie, who has suffered complications arising from a new pregnancy, on her deathbed. As Scarlett consoles Ashley, Rhett prepares to leave Atlanta. Having realized that it was him she truly loved all along, and not Ashley, Scarlett pleads with Rhett to stay, but he rebuffs her and walks away into the morning fog. A distraught Scarlett returns home to Tara, vowing to one day win Rhett back.

    as Gerald O'Hara as Ellen O'Hara (his wife) as Scarlett O'Hara (daughter) as Suellen O'Hara (daughter) as Carreen O'Hara (daughter) as Brent Tarleton (actually as Stuart) [nb 2] as Stuart Tarleton (actually as Brent) [nb 2] as Mammy (house servant) as Pork (house servant) as Prissy (house servant) as Jonas Wilkerson (field overseer) as Big Sam (field foreman)
    as John Wilkes as India Wilkes (his daughter) as Ashley Wilkes (his son) as Melanie Hamilton (their cousin) as Charles Hamilton (Melanie's brother) as Frank Kennedy (a guest) as Rhett Butler (a visitor from Charleston)
    as Aunt Pittypat Hamilton as Uncle Peter (her coachman) as Dr. Meade as Mrs. Meade as Mrs. Merriwether as Belle Watling
    as the Yankee deserter as Bonnie Blue Butler as Johnny Gallagher as Phil Meade as Bonnie's nurse in London as Cathleen Calvert as Beau Wilkes as the Corporal as the mounted officer as Emmy Slattery as the amputation case as Tom, the Yankee captain as the reminiscent soldier as the renegade as the hungry soldier holding Beau Wilkes as the carpetbagger businessman as the Yankee major as Maybelle Merriwether

Following the death of Olivia de Havilland—who played Melanie Hamilton—in July 2020 at the age of 104, the only surviving credited cast member from the film is Mickey Kuhn, who played Ashley and Melanie's son, Beau. [3] [4]

Before publication of the novel, several Hollywood executives and studios declined to create a film based on it, including Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Pandro Berman at RKO Pictures, and David O. Selznick of Selznick International Pictures. Jack L. Warner of Warner Bros liked the story, but his biggest star Bette Davis was not interested, and Darryl Zanuck of 20th Century-Fox had not offered enough money. However, Selznick changed his mind after his story editor Kay Brown and business partner John Hay Whitney urged him to buy the film rights. In July 1936—a month after it was published—Selznick bought the rights for $50,000. [5] [6] [7]

Casting Edit

The casting of the two lead roles became a complex, two-year endeavor. For the role of Rhett Butler, Selznick wanted Clark Gable from the start, but Gable was under contract to MGM, which never loaned him to other studios. [5] Gary Cooper was considered, but Samuel Goldwyn—to whom Cooper was under contract—refused to loan him out. [8] Warner offered a package of Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, and Olivia de Havilland for lead roles in return for the distribution rights. [9] By this time, Selznick was determined to get Gable and in August 1938 he eventually struck a deal with his father-in-law, MGM chief Louis B. Mayer: MGM would provide Gable and $1,250,000 for half of the film's budget, and in return, Selznick would have to pay Gable's weekly salary half the profits would go to MGM while Loew's, Inc—MGM's parent company—would release the film. [5] [8]

The arrangement to release through MGM meant delaying the start of production until the end of 1938, when Selznick's distribution deal with United Artists concluded. [8] Selznick used the delay to continue to revise the script and, more importantly, build publicity for the film by searching for the role of Scarlett. Selznick began a nationwide casting call that interviewed 1,400 unknowns. The effort cost $100,000 and proved useless for the main objective of casting the role, but created "priceless" publicity. [5] Early frontrunners included Miriam Hopkins and Tallulah Bankhead, who were regarded as possibilities by Selznick prior to the purchase of the film rights Joan Crawford, who was signed to MGM, was also considered as a potential pairing with Gable. After a deal was struck with MGM, Selznick held discussions with Norma Shearer—who was MGM's top female star at the time—but she withdrew herself from consideration. Katharine Hepburn lobbied hard for the role with the support of her friend, George Cukor, who had been hired to direct, but she was vetoed by Selznick who felt she was not right for the part. [8] [9] [10]

Many famous—or soon-to-be-famous—actresses were considered, but only thirty-one women were actually screen-tested for Scarlett including Ardis Ankerson, Jean Arthur, Tallulah Bankhead, Diana Barrymore, Joan Bennett, Nancy Coleman, Frances Dee, Ellen Drew (as Terry Ray), Paulette Goddard, Susan Hayward (under her real name of Edythe Marrenner), Vivien Leigh, Anita Louise, Haila Stoddard, Margaret Tallichet, Lana Turner and Linda Watkins. [11] Although Margaret Mitchell refused to publicly name her choice, the actress who came closest to winning her approval was Miriam Hopkins, who Mitchell felt was just the right type of actress to play Scarlett as written in the book. However, Hopkins was in her mid-thirties at the time and was considered too old for the part. [8] [9] [10] Four actresses, including Jean Arthur and Joan Bennett, were still under consideration by December 1938 however, only two finalists, Paulette Goddard and Vivien Leigh, were tested in Technicolor, both on December 20. [12] Goddard almost won the role, but controversy over her marriage with Charlie Chaplin caused Selznick to change his mind. [5]

Selznick had been quietly considering Vivien Leigh, a young English actress who was still little known in America, for the role of Scarlett since February 1938 when Selznick saw her in Fire Over England and A Yank at Oxford. Leigh's American agent was the London representative of the Myron Selznick talent agency (headed by David Selznick's brother, one of the owners of Selznick International), and she had requested in February that her name be submitted for consideration as Scarlett. By the summer of 1938 the Selznicks were negotiating with Alexander Korda, to whom Leigh was under contract, for her services later that year. [13] Selznick's brother arranged for them to meet for the first time on the night of December 10, 1938, when the burning of Atlanta was filmed. In a letter to his wife two days later, Selznick admitted that Leigh was "the Scarlett dark horse", and after a series of screen tests, her casting was announced on January 13, 1939. [14] Just before the shooting of the film, Selznick informed newspaper columnist Ed Sullivan: "Scarlett O'Hara's parents were French and Irish. Identically, Miss Leigh's parents are French and Irish." [15]

A pressing issue for Selznick throughout casting was Hollywood's persistent failure to accurately portray Southern accents. The studio believed that if the accent was not accurately depicted it could prove detrimental to the film's success. Selznick hired Susan Myrick (an expert on Southern speech, manners and customs recommended to him by Mitchell) and Will A. Price to coach the actors on speaking with a Southern drawl. Mitchell was complimentary about the vocal work of the cast, noting the lack of criticism when the film came out. [16] [17]

Screenplay Edit

Of the original screenplay writer, Sidney Howard, film historian Joanne Yeck writes, "reducing the intricacies of Gone with the Wind ' s epic dimensions was a herculean task . and Howard's first submission was far too long, and would have required at least six hours of film . [producer] Selznick wanted Howard to remain on the set to make revisions . but Howard refused to leave New England [and] as a result, revisions were handled by a host of local writers". [18] Selznick dismissed director George Cukor three weeks into filming and sought out Victor Fleming, who was directing The Wizard of Oz at the time. Fleming was dissatisfied with the script, so Selznick brought in the screenwriter Ben Hecht to rewrite the entire screenplay within five days. Hecht returned to Howard's original draft and by the end of the week had succeeded in revising the entire first half of the script. Selznick undertook rewriting the second half himself but fell behind schedule, so Howard returned to work on the script for one week, reworking several key scenes in part two. [19]

"By the time of the film's release in 1939, there was some question as to who should receive screen credit", writes Yeck. "But despite the number of writers and changes, the final script was remarkably close to Howard's version. The fact that Howard's name alone appears on the credits may have been as much a gesture to his memory as to his writing, for in 1939 Sidney Howard died at age 48 in a farm-tractor accident, and before the movie's premiere." [18] Selznick, in a memo written in October 1939, discussed the film's writing credits: "[Y]ou can say frankly that of the comparatively small amount of material in the picture which is not from the book, most is my own personally, and the only original lines of dialog which are not my own are a few from Sidney Howard and a few from Ben Hecht and a couple more from John Van Druten. Offhand I doubt that there are ten original words of [Oliver] Garrett's in the whole script. As to construction, this is about eighty per cent my own, and the rest divided between Jo Swerling and Sidney Howard, with Hecht having contributed materially to the construction of one sequence." [20]

According to Hecht's biographer William MacAdams, "At dawn on Sunday, February 20, 1939, David Selznick . and director Victor Fleming shook Hecht awake to inform him he was on loan from MGM and must come with them immediately and go to work on Gone with the Wind, which Selznick had begun shooting five weeks before. It was costing Selznick $50,000 each day the film was on hold waiting for a final screenplay rewrite and time was of the essence. Hecht was in the middle of working on the film At the Circus for the Marx Brothers. Recalling the episode in a letter to screenwriter friend Gene Fowler, he said he hadn't read the novel but Selznick and director Fleming could not wait for him to read it. They acted scenes based on Sidney Howard's original script which needed to be rewritten in a hurry. Hecht wrote, "After each scene had been performed and discussed, I sat down at the typewriter and wrote it out. Selznick and Fleming, eager to continue with their acting, kept hurrying me. We worked in this fashion for seven days, putting in eighteen to twenty hours a day. Selznick refused to let us eat lunch, arguing that food would slow us up. He provided bananas and salted peanuts . thus on the seventh day I had completed, unscathed, the first nine reels of the Civil War epic."

MacAdams writes, "It is impossible to determine exactly how much Hecht scripted . In the official credits filed with the Screen Writers Guild, Sidney Howard was of course awarded the sole screen credit, but four other writers were appended . Jo Swerling for contributing to the treatment, Oliver H. P. Garrett and Barbara Keon to screenplay construction, and Hecht, to dialogue . " [21]

Filming Edit

Principal photography began January 26, 1939, and ended on July 1, with post-production work continuing until November 11, 1939. Director George Cukor, with whom Selznick had a long working relationship and who had spent almost two years in pre-production on Gone with the Wind, was replaced after less than three weeks of shooting. [9] [nb 3] Selznick and Cukor had already disagreed over the pace of filming and the script, [9] [22] but other explanations put Cukor's departure down to Gable's discomfort at working with him. Emanuel Levy, Cukor's biographer, claimed that Gable had worked Hollywood's gay circuit as a hustler and that Cukor knew of his past, so Gable used his influence to have him discharged. [24] Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland learned of Cukor's firing on the day the Atlanta bazaar scene was filmed, and the pair went to Selznick's office in full costume and implored him to change his mind. Victor Fleming, who was directing The Wizard of Oz, was called in from MGM to complete the picture, although Cukor continued privately to coach Leigh and De Havilland. [19] Another MGM director, Sam Wood, worked for two weeks in May when Fleming temporarily left the production due to exhaustion. Although some of Cukor's scenes were later reshot, Selznick estimated that "three solid reels" of his work remained in the picture. As of the end of principal photography, Cukor had undertaken eighteen days of filming, Fleming ninety-three, and Wood twenty-four. [9]

Cinematographer Lee Garmes began the production, but on March 11, 1939—after a month of shooting footage that Selznick and his associates regarded as "too dark"—was replaced with Ernest Haller, working with Technicolor cinematographer Ray Rennahan. Garmes completed the first third of the film—mostly everything prior to Melanie having the baby—but did not receive a credit. [25] Most of the filming was done on "the back forty" of Selznick International with all the location scenes being photographed in California, mostly in Los Angeles County or neighboring Ventura County. [26] Tara, the fictional Southern plantation house, existed only as a plywood and papier-mâché facade built on the Selznick studio lot. [27] For the burning of Atlanta, new false facades were built in front of the Selznick backlot's many old abandoned sets, and Selznick himself operated the controls for the explosives that burned them down. [5] Sources at the time put the estimated production costs at $3.85 million, making it the second most expensive film made up to that point, with only Ben-Hur (1925) having cost more. [28] [nb 4]

Although legend persists that the Hays Office fined Selznick $5,000 for using the word "damn" in Butler's exit line, in fact the Motion Picture Association board passed an amendment to the Production Code on November 1, 1939, that forbade use of the words "hell" or "damn" except when their use "shall be essential and required for portrayal, in proper historical context, of any scene or dialogue based upon historical fact or folklore . or a quotation from a literary work, provided that no such use shall be permitted which is intrinsically objectionable or offends good taste". With that amendment, the Production Code Administration had no further objection to Rhett's closing line. [30]

Music Edit

To compose the score, Selznick chose Max Steiner, with whom he had worked at RKO Pictures in the early 1930s. Warner Bros.—who had contracted Steiner in 1936—agreed to lend him to Selznick. Steiner spent twelve weeks working on the score, the longest period that he had ever spent writing one, and at two hours and thirty-six minutes long it was also the longest that he had ever written. Five orchestrators were hired, including Hugo Friedhofer, Maurice de Packh, Bernard Kaun, Adolph Deutsch and Reginald Bassett.

The score is characterized by two love themes, one for Ashley's and Melanie's sweet love and another that evokes Scarlett's passion for Ashley, though notably there is no Scarlett and Rhett love theme. Steiner drew considerably on folk and patriotic music, which included Stephen Foster tunes such as "Louisiana Belle", "Dolly Day", "Ringo De Banjo", "Beautiful Dreamer", "Old Folks at Home", and "Katie Belle", which formed the basis of Scarlett's theme other tunes that feature prominently are: "Marching through Georgia" by Henry Clay Work, "Dixie", "Garryowen", and "The Bonnie Blue Flag". The theme that is most associated with the film today is the melody that accompanies Tara, the O'Hara plantation in the early 1940s, "Tara's Theme" formed the musical basis of the song "My Own True Love" by Mack David. In all, there are ninety-nine separate pieces of music featured in the score.

Due to the pressure of completing on time, Steiner received some assistance in composing from Friedhofer, Deutsch and Heinz Roemheld, and in addition, two short cues—by Franz Waxman and William Axt—were taken from scores in the MGM library. [31]

Preview, premiere and initial release Edit

On September 9, 1939, Selznick, his wife, Irene, investor John "Jock" Whitney, and film editor Hal Kern drove out to Riverside, California to preview the film at the Fox Theatre. The film was still a rough cut at this stage, missing completed titles and lacking special optical effects. It ran for four hours and twenty-five minutes it was later cut to under four hours for its proper release. A double bill of Hawaiian Nights and Beau Geste was playing, but after the first feature it was announced that the theater would be screening a preview the audience were informed they could leave but would not be readmitted once the film had begun, nor would phone calls be allowed once the theater had been sealed. When the title appeared on the screen the audience cheered, and after it had finished it received a standing ovation. [9] [32] In his biography of Selznick, David Thomson wrote that the audience's response before the film had even started "was the greatest moment of [Selznick's] life, the greatest victory and redemption of all his failings", [33] with Selznick describing the preview cards as "probably the most amazing any picture has ever had". [34] When Selznick was asked by the press in early September how he felt about the film, he said: "At noon I think it's divine, at midnight I think it's lousy. Sometimes I think it's the greatest picture ever made. But if it's only a great picture, I'll still be satisfied." [28]

About 300,000 people came out in Atlanta for the film's premiere at the Loew's Grand Theatre on December 15, 1939. It was the climax of three days of festivities hosted by Mayor William B. Hartsfield, which included a parade of limousines featuring stars from the film, receptions, thousands of Confederate flags, and a costume ball. Eurith D. Rivers, the governor of Georgia, declared December 15 a state holiday. An estimated three hundred thousand Atlanta residents and visitors lined the streets for seven miles to view the procession of limousines that brought stars from the airport. Only Leslie Howard and Victor Fleming chose not to attend: Howard had returned to England due to the outbreak of World War II, and Fleming had fallen out with Selznick and declined to attend any of the premieres. [28] [34] Hattie McDaniel was also absent, as she and the other black cast members were prevented from attending the premiere due to Georgia's Jim Crow laws, which kept them from sitting with their white colleagues. Upon learning that McDaniel had been barred from the premiere, Clark Gable threatened to boycott the event, but McDaniel persuaded him to attend. [35] President Jimmy Carter later recalled it as "the biggest event to happen in the South in my lifetime". [36] Premieres in New York and Los Angeles followed, the latter attended by some of the actresses that had been considered for the part of Scarlett, among them Paulette Goddard, Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford. [34]

From December 1939 to July 1940, the film played only advance-ticket road show engagements at a limited number of theaters at prices upwards of $1—more than double the price of a regular first-run feature—with MGM collecting an unprecedented 70 percent of the box office receipts, as opposed to the typical 30–35 percent of the period. After reaching saturation as a roadshow, MGM revised its terms to a 50 percent cut and halved the prices, before it finally entered general release in 1941 at "popular" prices. [37] Including its distribution and advertising costs, total expenditure on the film was as high as $7 million. [34] [38]

Later releases Edit

In 1942, Selznick liquidated his company for tax reasons, and sold his share in Gone with the Wind to his business partner, John Whitney, for $500,000. In turn, Whitney sold it on to MGM for $2.8 million, so that the studio owned the film outright. [38] MGM immediately re-released the film in the spring of 1942, [19] and again in 1947 and 1954. [9] The 1954 reissue was the first time the film was shown in widescreen, compromising the original Academy ratio and cropping the top and bottom to an aspect ratio of 1.75:1. In doing so, a number of shots were optically re-framed and cut into the three-strip camera negatives, forever altering five shots in the film. [39]

A 1961 release of the film commemorated the centennial anniversary of the start of the Civil War, and it also included a gala "premiere" at the Loew's Grand Theater. It was attended by Selznick and many other stars of the film, including Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland [40] Clark Gable had died the previous year. [41] For its 1967 re-release, the film was blown up to 70mm, [9] and issued with updated poster artwork featuring Gable—with his white shirt ripped open—holding Leigh against a backdrop of orange flames. [40] There were further re-releases in 1971, 1974 and 1989 for the fiftieth anniversary reissue in 1989, it was given a complete audio and video restoration. It was released theatrically one more time in the United States, in 1998 by Time Warner owned New Line Cinema. [42] [43]

In 2013, a 4K digital restoration was released in the United Kingdom to coincide with Vivien Leigh's centenary. [44] In 2014, special screenings were scheduled over a two-day period at theaters across the United States to coincide with the film's 75th anniversary. [45]

Television and home media Edit

The film received its U.S. television premiere on the HBO cable network on June 11, 1976, and played on the channel for a total of fourteen times throughout the rest of the month. [46] [19] [47] Other cable channels also broadcast the film during June. [48] It made its network television debut in November of that year NBC paid $5 million for a one-off airing, and it was broadcast in two parts on successive evenings. [19] It became at that time the highest-rated television program ever presented on a single network, watched by 47.5 percent of the households sampled in America, and 65 percent of television viewers, still the record for the highest-rated film to ever air on television. [19] [43]

In 1978, CBS signed a deal worth $35 million to broadcast the film twenty times over as many years. [19] Turner Entertainment acquired the MGM film library in 1986, but the deal did not include the television rights to Gone with the Wind, which were still held by CBS. A deal was struck in which the rights were returned to Turner Entertainment and CBS's broadcast rights to The Wizard of Oz were extended. [19] The film was used to launch two cable channels owned by Turner Broadcasting System, Turner Network Television (1988) and Turner Classic Movies (1994). [49] [50]

The film debuted on videocassette in March 1985, where it placed second in the sales charts, [19] and has since been released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats. [40]

Critical response Edit

Upon its release, consumer magazines and newspapers generally gave Gone with the Wind excellent reviews [9] however, while its production values, technical achievements, and scale of ambition were universally recognized, some reviewers of the time found the film to be too long and dramatically unconvincing. Frank S. Nugent for The New York Times best summed up the general sentiment by acknowledging that while it was the most ambitious film production made up to that point, it probably was not the greatest film ever made, but he nevertheless found it to be an "interesting story beautifully told". [51] Franz Hoellering of The Nation was of the same opinion: "The result is a film which is a major event in the history of the industry but only a minor achievement in motion-picture art. There are moments when the two categories meet on good terms, but the long stretches between are filled with mere spectacular efficiency." [52]

While the film was praised for its fidelity to the novel, [51] this aspect was also singled out as the main factor in contributing to the lengthy running time. [53] John C. Flinn wrote for Variety that Selznick had "left too much in", and that as entertainment, the film would have benefited if repetitious scenes and dialog from the latter part of the story had been trimmed. [53] The Manchester Guardian felt that the film's one serious drawback was that the story lacked the epic quality to justify the outlay of time and found the second half, which focuses on Scarlett's "irrelevant marriages" and "domestic squabbles", mostly superfluous, and the sole reason for their inclusion had been "simply because Margaret Mitchell wrote it that way". The Guardian believed that if "the story had been cut short and tidied up at the point marked by the interval, and if the personal drama had been made subservient to a cinematic treatment of the central theme—the collapse and devastation of the Old South—then Gone With the Wind might have been a really great film". [54] Likewise, Hoellering also found the second half of the film to be weaker than the first half: identifying the Civil War to be the driving force of the first part while the characters dominate in the second part, he concluded this is where the main fault of the picture lay, commenting that "the characters alone do not suffice". Despite many excellent scenes, he considered the drama to be unconvincing and that the "psychological development" had been neglected. [52]

Much of the praise was reserved for the casting, with Vivien Leigh in particular being singled out for her performance as Scarlett. Nugent described her as the "pivot of the picture" and believed her to be "so perfectly designed for the part by art and nature that any other actress in the role would be inconceivable". [51] Similarly, Hoellering found her "perfect" in "appearance and movements" he felt her acting best when she was allowed to "accentuate the split personality she portrays" and thought she was particularly effective in such moments of characterization like the morning after the marital rape scene. [52] Flinn also found Leigh suited to the role physically and felt she was best in the scenes where she displays courage and determination, such as the escape from Atlanta and when Scarlett kills a Yankee deserter. [53] Leigh won in the Best Actress category for her performance at the 1939 New York Film Critics Circle Awards. [55] Of Clark Gable's performance as Rhett Butler, Flinn felt the characterization was "as close to Miss Mitchell's conception—and the audience's—as might be imagined", [53] a view which Nugent concurred with, [51] although Hoellering felt that Gable didn't quite convince in the closing scenes, as Rhett walks out on Scarlett in disgust. [52] Of the other principal cast members, both Hoellering and Flinn found Leslie Howard to be "convincing" as the weak-willed Ashley, with Flinn identifying Olivia de Havilland as a "standout" as Melanie [52] [53] Nugent was also especially taken with de Havilland's performance, describing it as a "gracious, dignified, tender gem of characterization". [51] Hattie McDaniel's performance as Mammy was singled out for praise by many critics: Nugent believed she gave the best performance in the film after Vivien Leigh, [51] with Flinn placing it third after Leigh's and Gable's performances. [53]

Academy Awards Edit

At the 12th Academy Awards, Gone with the Wind set a record for Academy Award wins and nominations, winning in eight of the competitive categories it was nominated in, from a total of thirteen nominations. It won for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Editing, and received two further honorary awards for its use of equipment and color (it also became the first color film to win Best Picture). [56] [57]

The film's record of eight competitive wins stood until Gigi (1958) won nine, and its overall record of ten was broken by Ben-Hur (1959) which won eleven. [58] Gone with the Wind also held the record for most nominations until All About Eve (1950) secured fourteen. [10] It was the longest American sound film made up to that point, and may still hold the record of the longest Best Picture winner depending on how it is interpreted. [59] The running time for Gone with the Wind is just under 221 minutes, while Lawrence of Arabia (1962) runs for just over 222 minutes however, including the overture, intermission, entr'acte, and exit music, Gone with the Wind lasts for 234 minutes (although some sources put its full length at 238 minutes) while Lawrence of Arabia comes in slightly shorter at 232 minutes with its additional components. [60] [61]

Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American to win an Academy Award—beating out her co-star Olivia de Havilland, who was also nominated in the same category—but was racially segregated from her co-stars at the awards ceremony at the Coconut Grove she and her escort were made to sit at a separate table at the back of the room. [62] Meanwhile, screenwriter Sidney Howard became the first posthumous Oscar winner and Selznick personally received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for his career achievements. [10] [56]

Academy Awards and nominations
Award Recipient(s) Result
Outstanding Production David O. Selznick (for Selznick International Pictures) Won
Best Director Victor Fleming Won
Best Actor Clark Gable Nominated
Best Actress Vivien Leigh Won
Best Supporting Actress Olivia de Havilland Nominated
Hattie McDaniel Won
Best Screenplay Sidney Howard Won
Best Art Direction Lyle Wheeler Won
Best Cinematography – Color Ernest Haller and Ray Rennahan Won
Best Film Editing Hal C. Kern and James E. Newcom Won
Best Original Score Max Steiner Nominated
Best Sound Recording Thomas T. Moulton (Samuel Goldwyn Studio Sound Department) Nominated
Best Visual Effects Jack Cosgrove, Fred Albin and Arthur Johns Nominated
Special Award William Cameron Menzies
For outstanding achievement in the use of color for the enhancement of dramatic mood in the production of Gone with the Wind.
Honorary
Technical Achievement Award Don Musgrave and Selznick International Pictures
For pioneering in the use of coordinated equipment in the production Gone with the Wind.
Honorary

Reactions from African-Americans Edit

Some black commentators criticized the film for its depiction of black people and "whitewashing" of the issue of slavery they have done so since the release of the film, but initially, newspapers controlled by white Americans did not report on these criticisms. [63] Carlton Moss, a black dramatist, observed in an open letter that whereas The Birth of a Nation was a "frontal attack on American history and the Negro people", Gone with the Wind was a "rear attack on the same". He went on to characterize it as a "nostalgic plea for sympathy for a still-living cause of Southern reaction". Moss further called out the stereotypical black characterizations, such as the "shiftless and dull-witted Pork", the "indolent and thoroughly irresponsible Prissy", Big Sam's "radiant acceptance of slavery", and Mammy with her "constant haranguing and doting on every wish of Scarlett". [64]

Following Hattie McDaniel's Oscar win, Walter Francis White, leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, accused her of being an Uncle Tom. McDaniel responded that she would "rather make seven hundred dollars a week playing a maid than seven dollars being one" she further questioned White's qualification to speak on behalf of blacks, since he was light-skinned and only one-eighth black. [62]

Opinion in the black community was generally divided upon release, with the film being called by some a "weapon of terror against black America" and an insult to black audiences, and demonstrations were held in various cities. [62] Even so, some sections of the black community recognized McDaniel's achievements to be representative of progression: some African-Americans crossed picket lines and praised McDaniel's warm and witty characterization, and others hoped that the industry's recognition of her work would lead to increased visibility on screen for other black actors. In its editorial congratulation to McDaniel on winning her Academy Award, Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life used the film as a reminder of the "limit" put on black aspiration by old prejudices. [62] [64] Malcolm X later recalled that "when Butterfly McQueen went into her act, I felt like crawling under the rug". [65]

Audience response Edit

Upon its release, Gone with the Wind broke attendance records everywhere. At the Capitol Theatre in New York alone, it averaged eleven thousand admissions per day in late December, [37] and within four years of its release had sold an estimated sixty million tickets across the United States—sales equivalent to just under half the population at the time. [66] [67] It repeated its success overseas, and was a sensational hit during the Blitz in London, opening in April 1940 and playing for four years. [68] By the time MGM withdrew it from circulation, at the end of 1943, its worldwide distribution had returned a gross rental (the studio's share of the box office gross) of $32 million, making it the most profitable film ever made up to that point. [10] [19] It eventually opened in Japan in September 1952 and became the highest-grossing foreign film there. [69] [70]

Even though it earned its investors roughly twice as much as the previous record-holder, The Birth of a Nation, [71] [72] the box-office performances of the two films were likely much closer. The bulk of the earnings from Gone with the Wind came from its roadshow and first-run engagements, where the distributor received 70 percent and 50 percent of the box-office gross respectively, rather than its general release, which at the time typically saw the distributor's share set at 30–35 percent of the gross. [37] In the case of The Birth of a Nation, its distributor, Epoch, sold off many of its distribution territories on a "states rights" basis—which typically amounted to 10 percent of the box-office gross—and Epoch's accounts are only indicative of its own profits from the film, and not the local distributors. Carl E. Milliken, secretary of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association, estimated that The Birth of a Nation had been seen by fifty million people by 1930. [73] [74]

When it was re-released in 1947, it earned an impressive $5 million rental in the United States and Canada, and was one of the top ten releases of the year. [38] [71] Successful re-releases in 1954 and 1961 enabled it to retain its position as the industry's top earner, despite strong challenges from more recent films such as Ben-Hur, [75] but it was finally overtaken by The Sound of Music in 1966. [76]

The 1967 reissue was unusual in that MGM opted to roadshow it, a decision that turned it into the most successful re-release in the history of the industry. It generated a box-office gross of $68 million, making it MGM's most lucrative picture after Doctor Zhivago from the latter half of the decade. [77] MGM earned a rental of $41 million from the release, [78] with the U.S. and Canadian share amounting to over $30 million, placing it second only to The Graduate for that year. [71] [78] Including its $6.7 million rental from the 1961 reissue, [79] it was the fourth highest-earner of the decade in the North American market, with only The Sound of Music, The Graduate and Doctor Zhivago making more for their distributors. [71] A further re-release in 1971 allowed it to briefly recapture the record from The Sound of Music, bringing its total worldwide gross rental to about $116 million by the end of 1971—more than trebling its earnings from its initial release—before losing the record again the following year to The Godfather. [43] [80]

Across all releases, it is estimated that Gone with the Wind has sold over 200 million tickets in the United States and Canada, [66] generating more theater admissions in that territory than any other film. [81] The film was phenomenally successful in Western Europe too, generating approximately 35 million tickets in the United Kingdom and over 16 million in France, respectively becoming the biggest and sixth-biggest ticket-sellers in those markets. [82] [83] [84] In total, Gone with the Wind has grossed over $390 million globally at the box office [85] in 2007 Turner Entertainment estimated the gross to be equivalent to approximately $3.3 billion when adjusted for inflation to current prices, [10] while Guinness World Records arrived at a figure of $3.44 billion in 2014, making it the most successful film in cinema history. [86]

The film remains immensely popular with audiences into the 21st century, having been voted the most popular film in two nationwide polls of Americans undertaken by Harris Interactive in 2008, and again in 2014. The market research firm surveyed over two thousand U.S. adults, with the results weighted by age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income so their proportions matched the composition of the adult population. [87] [88]

Critical re-evaluation Edit

    – #2
    • Rhett Butler, Hero – Nominated
    • Scarlett O'Hara, Hero – Nominated
    • "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." – #1
    • "After all, tomorrow is another day!" – #31
    • "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again." – #59
    • "Fiddle-dee-dee." – Nominated
    • "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies." – Nominated

    In revisiting the film in the 1970s, Arthur Schlesinger believed that Hollywood films generally age well, revealing an unexpected depth or integrity, but in the case of Gone with the Wind time has not treated it kindly. [90] Richard Schickel argued that one measure of a film's quality is to ask what the viewer can remember of it, and the film falls down in this regard: unforgettable imagery and dialogue are simply not present. [91] Stanley Kauffmann, likewise, also found the film to be a largely forgettable experience, claiming he could only remember two scenes vividly. [92] Both Schickel and Schlesinger put this down to it being "badly written", in turn describing the dialogue as "flowery" and possessing a "picture postcard" sensibility. [90] [91] Schickel also believes the film fails as popular art, in that it has limited rewatch value—a sentiment that Kauffmann also concurs with, stating that having watched it twice he hopes "never to see it again: twice is twice as much as any lifetime needs". [91] [92] Both Schickel and Andrew Sarris identify the film's main failing is in possessing a producer's sensibility rather than an artistic one: having gone through so many directors and writers the film does not carry a sense of being "created" or "directed", but rather having emerged "steaming from the crowded kitchen", where the main creative force was a producer's obsession in making the film as literally faithful to the novel as possible. [91] [93]

    Sarris concedes that despite its artistic failings, the film does hold a mandate around the world as the "single most beloved entertainment ever produced". [93] Judith Crist observes that, kitsch aside, the film is "undoubtedly still the best and most durable piece of popular entertainment to have come off the Hollywood assembly lines", the product of a showman with "taste and intelligence". [94] Schlesinger notes that the first half of the film does have a "sweep and vigor" that aspire to its epic theme, but—finding agreement with the film's contemporary criticisms—the personal lives take over in the second half, and it ends up losing its theme in unconvincing sentimentality. [90] Kauffmann also finds interesting parallels with The Godfather, which had just replaced Gone with the Wind as the highest-grosser at the time: both were produced from "ultra-American" best-selling novels, both live within codes of honor that are romanticized, and both in essence offer cultural fabrication or revisionism. [92]

    The critical perception of the film has shifted in the intervening years, which resulted in it being ranked 235th in Sight & Sound ' s prestigious decennial critics poll in 2012, [95] and in 2015 sixty-two international film critics polled by the BBC voted it the 97th best American film. [96]

    Industry recognition Edit

    The film has featured in several high-profile industry polls: in 1977 it was voted the most popular film by the American Film Institute (AFI), in a poll of the organization's membership [9] the AFI also ranked the film fourth on its "100 Greatest Movies" list in 1998, [97] with it slipping down to sixth place in the tenth anniversary edition in 2007. [98] Film directors ranked it 322nd in the 2012 edition of the decennial Sight & Sound poll, [95] and in 2016 it was selected as the ninth best "directorial achievement" in a Directors Guild of America members poll. [99] In 2014, it placed fifteenth in an extensive poll undertaken by The Hollywood Reporter, which balloted every studio, agency, publicity firm and production house in the Hollywood region. [100] Gone with the Wind was one of the first twenty-five films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress in 1989 for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". [101] [102]

    Historical portrayal Edit

    Gone with the Wind has been criticized as having perpetuated Civil War myths and black stereotypes. [103] David Reynolds wrote that "The white women are elegant, their menfolk are noble or at least dashing. And, in the background, the black slaves are mostly dutiful and content, clearly incapable of an independent existence." Reynolds likened Gone with the Wind to The Birth of a Nation and other re-imaginings of the South during the era of segregation, in which white Southerners are portrayed as defending traditional values, and the issue of slavery is largely ignored. [65] The film has been described as a "regression" that promotes both the myth of the black rapist and the honorable and defensive role of the Ku Klux Klan during Reconstruction, [104] and as a "social propaganda" film offering a "white supremacist" view of the past. [103]

    From 1972 to 1996, the Atlanta Historical Society held a number of Gone with the Wind exhibits, among them a 1994 exhibit which was titled, "Disputed Territories: Gone with the Wind and Southern Myths". One of the questions which was explored by the exhibit was "How True to Life Were the Slaves in GWTW?" This section showed that slave experiences were diverse and as a result, it concluded that the "happy darky" was a myth, as was the belief that all slaves experienced violence and brutality. [105]

    W. Bryan Rommel Ruiz has argued that despite factual inaccuracies in its depiction of the Reconstruction period, Gone with the Wind reflects contemporary interpretations of it that were common in the early 20th century. One such viewpoint is reflected in a brief scene in which Mammy fends off a leering freedman: a politician can be heard offering forty acres and a mule to the emancipated slaves in exchange for their votes. The inference is taken to mean that freedmen are ignorant about politics and unprepared for freedom, unwittingly becoming the tools of corrupt Reconstruction officials. While perpetuating some Lost Cause myths, the film makes concessions with regard to others. After the attack on Scarlett in the shanty town, a group of men including Scarlett's husband Frank, Rhett Butler, and Ashley raid the town in the novel they belong to the Ku Klux Klan, representing the common trope of protecting the white woman's virtue, but the filmmakers consciously neutralize the presence of the Klan in the film by simply referring to it as a "political meeting". [106]

    Thomas Cripps reasons that in some respects, the film undercuts racial stereotypes [107] in particular, the film created greater engagement between Hollywood and black audiences, [107] with dozens of films making small gestures in recognition of the emerging trend. [64] Only a few weeks after its initial run, a story editor at Warner wrote a memorandum to Walter Wanger about Mississippi Belle, a script that contained the worst excesses of plantation films, suggesting that Gone with the Wind had made the film "unproducible". More than any film since The Birth of a Nation, it unleashed a variety of social forces that foreshadowed an alliance of white liberals and blacks who encouraged the expectation that blacks would one day achieve equality. According to Cripps, the film eventually became a template for measuring social change. [64]

    21st-century reappraisal Edit

    In the 21st century, criticism of the film's depictions of race and slavery led to its availability being curtailed. In 2017, Gone with the Wind was pulled from the schedule at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, Tennessee, after a 34-year run of annual showings. [108] [109] At a political rally in February 2020, President Donald Trump criticized the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony, stating that Gone With The Wind and Sunset Boulevard (1950) were more deserving of the award for Best Picture than that year's winner, the South Korean film Parasite. His comments elicited commentary from critics and a backlash from pundits across the political spectrum on social media. [110]

    On June 9, 2020, the film was removed from HBO Max amid the George Floyd protests as well as in response to an op-ed written by screenwriter John Ridley that was published in that day's edition of the Los Angeles Times, which called for the streaming service to temporarily remove the film from its content library. He wrote that "it continues to give cover to those who falsely claim that clinging to the iconography of the plantation era is a matter of 'heritage, not hate'." [111] [112] [113] A spokesperson for HBO Max said that the film was "a product of its time" and as a result, it depicted "ethnic and racial prejudices" that "were wrong then and are wrong today". It was also announced that the film would return to the streaming service at a later date, although it would incorporate "a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions, but will be presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. If we are to create a more just, equitable and inclusive future, we must first acknowledge and understand our history." [114] The film's removal sparked a debate about political correctness going too far, with film critics and historians criticising HBO over potential censorship. [115] Following the film's removal, it reached the top of Amazon's best-sellers sales chart for TV and films, and fifth place on Apple's iTunes Store film chart. [116]

    HBO Max returned the film to its service later that month, with a new introduction by Jacqueline Stewart. [117] Stewart described the film, in an op-ed for CNN, as "a prime text for examining expressions of white supremacy in popular culture", and said that "it is precisely because of the ongoing, painful patterns of racial injustice and disregard for Black lives that "Gone with the Wind" should stay in circulation and remain available for viewing, analysis and discussion." She described the controversy as "an opportunity to think about what classic films can teach us." [118]

    Depiction of marital rape Edit

    One of the most notorious and widely condemned scenes in Gone with the Wind depicts what is now legally defined as "marital rape". [119] [120] The scene begins with Scarlett and Rhett at the bottom of the staircase, where he begins to kiss her, refusing to be told 'no' by the struggling Scarlett [121] [122] Rhett overcomes her resistance and carries her up the stairs to the bedroom, [121] [122] where the audience is left in no doubt that she will "get what's coming to her". [123] The next scene, the following morning, shows Scarlett glowing with barely suppressed sexual satisfaction [121] [122] [123] Rhett apologizes for his behavior, blaming it on his drinking. [121] The scene has been accused of combining romance and rape by making them indistinguishable from each other, [121] and of reinforcing a notion about forced sex: that women secretly enjoy it, and it is an acceptable way for a man to treat his wife. [123]

    Molly Haskell has argued that, nevertheless, women are mostly uncritical of the scene, and that by and large it is consistent with what women have in mind if they fantasize about being raped. Their fantasies revolve around love and romance rather than forced sex they will assume that Scarlett was not an unwilling sexual partner and wanted Rhett to take the initiative and insist on having sexual intercourse. [124]

    In popular culture Edit

    Gone with the Wind and its production have been explicitly referenced, satirized, dramatized and analyzed on numerous occasions across a range of media, from contemporaneous works such as Second Fiddle—a 1939 film spoofing the "search for Scarlett"—to current television shows, such as The Simpsons. [103] [125] [126] The Scarlett O'Hara War (a 1980 television dramatization of the casting of Scarlett), [127] Moonlight and Magnolias (a 2007 play by Ron Hutchinson that dramatizes Ben Hecht's five-day re-write of the script), [128] and "Went with the Wind!" (a sketch on The Carol Burnett Show that parodied the film in the aftermath of its television debut in 1976) are among the more noteworthy examples of its enduring presence in popular culture. [19] It was also the subject of a 1988 documentary, The Making of a Legend: Gone with the Wind, detailing the film's difficult production history. [129] In 1990, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp depicting Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh embracing in a scene from the film. [130] In 2003, Leigh and Gable (as Scarlett and Rhett) were ranked number 95 on VH1's list of the "200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons of All Time". [131]

    Sequel Edit

    Following the publication of her novel, Margaret Mitchell was inundated with requests for a sequel but she claimed not to have a notion of what happened to Scarlett and Rhett, and as a result, she had "left them to their ultimate fate". Until her death in 1949, Mitchell continued to resist pressure to write a sequel from Selznick and MGM. In 1975, her brother, Stephens Mitchell (who assumed control of her estate), authorized a sequel that would be jointly produced by MGM and Universal Studios on a budget of $12 million. Anne Edwards was commissioned to write the sequel as a novel which would then be adapted into a screenplay, and published in conjunction with the film's release. Edwards submitted a 775-page manuscript which was titled Tara, The Continuation of Gone with the Wind, set between 1872 and 1882 and focusing on Scarlett's divorce from Rhett MGM was not satisfied with the story and the deal collapsed. [19]

    The idea was revived in the 1990s, when a sequel was finally produced in 1994, in the form of a television miniseries. Scarlett was based on the novel by Alexandra Ripley, itself a sequel to Mitchell's book. British actors Joanne Whalley and Timothy Dalton were cast as Scarlett and Rhett, and the series follows Scarlett's relocation to Ireland after she again becomes pregnant by Rhett. [132]

    Explanatory notes Edit

    1. ^ Loews was the parent company of MGM. [2]
    2. ^ ab The credits at the start of the film contain an error: George Reeves is listed "as Brent Tarleton", but plays Stuart, while Fred Crane is listed "as Stuart Tarleton", but plays Brent. [1]
    3. ^ From a private letter from journalist and on-set technical advisor Susan Myrick to Margaret Mitchell in February 1939:

    George [Cukor] finally told me all about it. He hated [leaving the production] very much he said but he could not do otherwise. In effect he said he is an honest craftsman and he cannot do a job unless he knows it is a good job and he feels the present job is not right. For days, he told me he has looked at the rushes and felt he was failing. the thing did not click as it should. Gradually he became convinced that the script was the trouble. David [Selznick], himself, thinks HE is writing the script. And George has continually taken script from day to day, compared the [Oliver] Garrett-Selznick version with the [Sidney] Howard, groaned and tried to change some parts back to the Howard script. But he seldom could do much with the scene. So George just told David he would not work any longer if the script was not better and he wanted the Howard script back. David told George he was a director—not an author and he (David) was the producer and the judge of what is a good script. George said he was a director and a damn good one and he would not let his name go out over a lousy picture. And bull-headed David said "OK get out!" [22]

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    Further reading Edit

    • Bridges, Herb (1999). Gone with the Wind: The Three-Day Premiere in Atlanta. Mercer University Press. ISBN978-0-86554-672-1 .
    • Cameron, Judy Christman, Paul J (1989). The Art of Gone with the Wind: The Making of a Legend . Prentice Hall. ISBN978-0-13-046740-9 .
    • Harmetz, Aljean (1996). On the Road to Tara: The Making of Gone with the Wind. New York: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN978-0-8109-3684-3 .
    • Lambert, Gavin (1973). GWTW: The Making of Gone with the Wind. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN978-0-316-51284-8 .
    • Vertrees, Alan David (1997). Selznick's Vision: Gone with the Wind and Hollywood Filmmaking. University of Texas Press. ISBN978-0-292-78729-2 .
      at IMDb at the TCM Movie Database at the TCM Mediaroom at Rotten Tomatoes and Russell Bellman premiere films at the Atlanta History Center. web exhibition at the Harry Ransom Center article series at The Atlantic

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    Reading Group Guide

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    This reading group guide for Gone with the Wind includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

    Introduction

    Widely considered The Great American Novel, and often remembered for its epic film version, Gone With the Wind explores the depth of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it vividly depicts the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

    This Pulitzer Prize-winning story is the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, manipulative daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War forever change her way of life. A sweeping story of tangled passion and courage, in the pages of Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell brings to life the unforgettable characters that have captured readers for more than seventy years.

    Topics & Questions for Discussion
    1. Gerald O’Hara is described as “vital and earthy and coarse” (pg. 50). Why do you think society still considers him a gentleman? Is it simply because he married Ellen? Does his daughter Scarlett possess these same traits? What about her sisters, Suellen and Careen?

    2. Discuss the general attitude towards education in Gone With the Wind. Gerald, Scarlett, and others refer to Ashley Wilkes’s studies as “foolishness.” Does this surprise you? If art and literature are unimportant to so many, what qualities are admired?

    3. “To Mammy’s indignation, [Scarlett’s] preferred playmates were not her demure sisters or the well-brought-up Wilkes girls but the negro children on the plantation and the boys of the neighborhood…” (pg. 75). Why doesn’t Scarlett befriend other girls? As a young woman, whom does she show general affection and why?

    4. “Sacrilegious though it may be, Scarlett always saw through her closed eyes, the upturned face of Ellen and not the Blessed Virgin, as the ancient phrases were repeated” (pg. 87). Does Scarlett have these emotions because Ellen is her mother or because she admires her as a person? Why is Ellen so special to Scarlett? Is there anyone else Scarlett admires to the same degree?

    5. While preparing for the party at Twelve Oaks, Scarlett asks Mammy “Why is it a girl has to be so silly to catch a husband?” (pg. 95). Considering the times, do you think this statement is accurate? Does Scarlett follow these rules herself? Are there any women in the novel who don’t act “silly” in the presence of men?

    6. Several of the families frequently refer to the Slatterys and others as “white trash.” Is this simply a matter of them having less money? During the time period, which traits must one possess to be considered a member of genteel society? Are exceptions ever made?

    7. After overhearing her declaration of love to Ashley, Rhett Butler tells Scarlett “you, Miss, are no lady” (pg. 131). Is this the very reason he’s drawn to her? What is it about Scarlett that instantly attracts Rhett’s eye? Conversely, Aunt Pitty believes Rhett could be a gentleman if only he respected women. Do you agree? Are there any women he does respect? Why them as opposed to others?

    8. There is very little discussion of Scarlett’s first husband, Charles Hamilton: “Within two weeks Scarlett had become a wife, and within two months more she was a widow” (pg. 139). Why is there a jump in time from Charles’s introduction to his death? Were you at all surprised at Scarlett’s reaction to widowhood?

    9. Discuss the many complicated issues of race in this novel. Mammy and Pork consider themselves a higher status than those who work in the field. Why do they believe this? Do they also consider themselves better than “po whites” like the Slatterys? How would you describe Scarlett’s different relationships with Mammy, Pork, Dilcey, and Prissy?

    10. When Scarlett first arrives in Atlanta, she notes the city as being “as headstrong and impetuous as herself” (pg. 149). Both during wartime and afterwards, what other similarities exist between Scarlett and her adopted home?

    11. Most of her fellow Southerners will do anything for “The Cause,” and yet Scarlett admits to herself it means “nothing at all to her” (pg. 177). Is she being selfish or merely honest? Why do you think she feels this way? Does her opinion change throughout the novel? And if she doesn’t care about The Cause, why does she still hate “Yankees” so much?

    12. Rhett warns Scarlett that he “always gets paid” (pg 242). Discuss the times when this is true. Why does he have this attitude? Is Rhett ever purely generous?

    13. Considering he knows of her love, why does Ashley ask Scarlett to look after his wife, Melanie, while he’s at war? Is this a fair favor to ask? Does Scarlett agree only because she’s in love with him, or has she learned to love Melanie, as well?

    14. “Oh, what fun! If he would just say he loved her, how she would torment him and get even…” (pg. 327). Why do Scarlett and Rhett feel the need to trick one another? Are there ever moments when they allow themselves to be vulnerable with each other? Why is honesty such a problem for them?

    15. When the Yankees arrive in Atlanta, Rhett leaves Scarlett in the wagon to take care of Melanie and the others. Why does he leave them behind, as well as a life of comfort, to join the army he claims to dislike so much?

    16. On her deathbed, Ellen calls out for her lost love, Philippe. Why does Margaret Mitchell include this seemingly insignificant back-story? Does this relationship parallel any others in the novel?

    17. When she returns to Tara to find the Yankees have destroyed all their food and cotton, Scarlett utters one of the most well-known lines from Gone With the Wind: “as God as my witness, I’m never going to be hungry again” (pg. 408). Does this moment change Scarlett? From where does she find her strength?

    18. Scarlett is often annoyed that her son, Wade Hampton, appears to prefer Aunt Melly. How would you describe her relationship with Wade? Much like his father Charles, why is he mentioned so infrequently? Do you judge Scarlett when she yells at him?

    19. After Scarlett kills the Yankee soldier, Melanie immediately helps her dispose of the body, causing Scarlett to begrudgingly admire her “thin flashing blade of unbreakable steel” (pg. 420). How would you describe Melanie—as weak or strong? Does she know about Scarlett’s feelings for Ashley? If so, why does she remain so loyal to her?

    20. Describe Atlanta once the war is over. Besides the physical damages, what are the biggest changes? Why do you think some of the newly free men remain loyal to their white families, while others try to start new lives? Do any of the former slaves now seem “successful”?

    21. When Ashley returns to Tara, he confides in Scarlett that despite his wartime heroics, he considers himself a coward. What does he mean by this statement? Do you agree with him? Does Scarlett agree?

    22. After finally finding a moment alone with each other, Scarlett and Ashley declare their love, but she admits “they were like two people talking to each other in different languages” (pg. 499). Were they ever really in love, or do they just admire each other greatly? And if he does love her, why doesn’t he stop her from offering herself to Rhett in exchange for the money to pay off the taxes?

    23. When the war leaves them all poor, Scarlett cannot believe so many respectable families “still think, in spite of everything, that nothing really dreadful can happen to any of them because they are who they are…” (pg. 517). Do you agree that the former aristocrats remain the same, or as Ashley describes it, are in a “state of suspended animation” (pg. 677)? If so, why do you think this is? What makes Scarlett different? Does she still care what they think of her?

    24. After Tara is safe, why does Scarlett remain so involved with the mill? Does she enjoy working even though it’s deemed unladylike? Where did she learn her business skills? Why is she successful when so many of the men are not? And why does she decide to do business with the Yankees, whom she continues to hate?

    25. Why do so many of the white Southern men join the Klan? Is it a matter of race, or politics, or dislike of the Yankees? Do they want some sense of control after losing the war and having “Carpetbaggers” run their local government? Why is Scarlett one of the few to speak against the Klan? And why does Rhett try to rescue Ashley and Frank from the meeting when he learns of the Yankee soldiers’ trap?

    26. Discuss the importance of religion in the novel. How important is God to Scarlett? During tough times, she often claims not to care what He thinks. Do you believe this is true? What about following the death of her second husband, Frank Kennedy? Does she feel guilt? When she tells Rhett she’s afraid of going to Hell and has many regrets, do you believe her (pg. 768)?

    27. “No, my dear, I’m not in love with you, no more than you are with me, and if I were, you would be the last person I’d ever tell” (pg. 778). If what Rhett says is true, why does he propose to Scarlett, especially after repeatedly claiming he isn’t a marrying man? And why does he choose to propose so shortly after Frank’s death? Does he make a good husband?

    28. Scarlett has one child with each of her husbands. Does she treat them differently? Does fatherhood change Rhett? If so, do you think his behavior would be different if he had a son instead of a daughter? How are Scarlett and Rhett affected by Bonnie’s death, both individually and as a couple?

    29. The novel ends with Rhett rejecting Scarlett’s love, and her thinking “tomorrow is another day” (pg. 959). Is this another example of Scarlett refusing to quit, or does she really believe she’ll win him back? Do you think he’s truly fallen out of love, or will Rhett return to Scarlett “another day”?

    30. In the beginning of the novel, Gerald tells Scarlett that land is “the only thing in the world that lasts…” (pg. 55). Is this true in Scarlett’s world? Ultimately, does she love Ashley, or Rhett, or her own children as much as she loves Tara?

    Enhance Your Book Club

    1. After your book club discussion, watch the film version of Gone With the Wind. Discuss the differences and similarities between the novel and the Oscar-winning movie. Is there one you prefer? If you had already seen the film, did you envision the actors as the book’s characters? Do you think this changed your perspective while reading?

    2. Fashion is very important to Southern society during this time period. Do research on 1860s clothing and bring in pictures or sketches to share with the group. Decide which outfits Scarlett, Melanie, and the other women might select for themselves and why.

    3. Gone With the Wind goes into great detail to describe the Civil War’s impact on society. Now research the historical aspects of the war. Have each member write a brief recap of the war’s major battles and then share with the group. Does the novel portray these battles accurately?

    4. If you’re in the Atlanta area, take a trip to the Margaret Mitchell House, where you can tour the rooms in which the famous author wrote her novel. If this trip isn’t convenient for your group, you can visit the website at: http://www.gwtw.org/.

    5. At the end of the novel Rhett leaves Scarlett, but the two never seem to stay apart for long. Do you imagine Rhett ever returns to her? Write an epilogue for the story detailing what you think happens to Scarlett, Rhett, and the others.


    The Long Battle Over ‘Gone With the Wind’

    The 1939 blockbuster once symbolized the ultimate in mass entertainment. But African-Americans have protested against it from the start, even if white America didn’t want to hear it.

    When HBO Max announced Tuesday that it was temporarily removing “Gone With the Wind” from its streaming service, it seemed as if another Confederate monument was coming down.

    “Gone With the Wind” may register with younger people today only as their grandmother’s favorite movie (or maybe, the source of a lacerating joke that opens Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman”). And for every prominent conservative accusing HBO Max of censorship, there were plenty on social media calling the movie, well, boring.

    But the 1939 classic — still the highest-grossing film of all time, adjusted for inflation — has enduringly shaped popular understanding of the Civil War and Reconstruction perhaps more than any other cultural artifact.

    “You want to have a Southern antebellum wedding — where does that come from?” said Kellie Carter Jackson, a historian at Wellesley College who teaches a course on slavery and film. “People will say they haven’t seen the movie. But they have seen it — just not in its original form.”

    HBO Max’s move came a day after The Los Angeles Times published an opinion piece by John Ridley, the screenwriter of “Twelve Years a Slave,” criticizing “Gone With the Wind” for its racist stereotypes and whitewashing of the horrors of slavery, and calling for it to be presented only with added historical context. (A few days later, the African-American film scholar Jacqueline Stewart announced in an opinion piece for CNN.com that she will be providing the introduction when the movie returns to the streaming service.)

    But it also represents a belated reckoning with African-American criticism that started immediately after the 1936 publication of Margaret Mitchell’s novel — even if it was barely noted in the mainstream white press.

    “Gone With the Wind” is one of the mythic lightning strikes of American cultural history. Mitchell, a former journalist who wrote the novel (her first and only) while recovering from an injury, expected it to sell 5,000 copies. Instead, it became a sensation, selling nearly a million copies within six months, and earning her the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

    The production of the movie version, including the casting of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, was covered breathlessly in the press. And by opening night, in 1939, seven million copies of the book had been sold.

    The frenzy around the novel and the movie also touched off a national craze for all things Dixie. Mitchell was inundated with requests to authorize “Gone With the Wind”-themed pens, hats, dolls, even chintz fabric. In 1939, Macy’s devoted several floors of its flagship store to products associated with the film, under the theme “The Old South Comes North.”

    “People just ate it up,” said Karen L. Cox, a historian at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and the author of “Dreaming of Dixie: How the South Was Created in American Popular Culture.” And the Northern embrace of Mitchell’s plantation nostalgia, with its depiction of happy, obedient slaves, wasn’t just harmless lifestyle consumerism.

    “There was nascent civil rights activity in the 1930s, but if everyone is watching this movie or reading this book, they get the idea that that’s how things were,” Cox said. “It made it easier for white Northerners to look at African-American migrants arriving in places like Chicago and say, ‘Why can’t you act like these Negroes?’”

    But even as white Americans embraced the moonlight and magnolias, African-Americans were registering objections. Soon after the producer David O. Selznick bought the rights, there were complaints that a movie version would incite violence, spread bigotry and even derail a proposed federal anti-lynching bill.

    Margaret Mitchell reacted dismissively to the criticism. “I do not intend to let any trouble-making Professional Negros change my feelings towards the race with whom my relations have always been those of affection and mutual respect,” she wrote to a friend.

    Selznick did a more complicated dance. “I for one have no desire to produce any anti-Negro film,” he wrote in a memo to the screenwriter Sidney Howard. “In our picture I think we have to be awfully careful that the Negroes come out decidedly on the right side of the ledger.”

    In 1936, Walter White, the secretary of the NAACP, wrote to him expressing concern, and suggesting he hire someone, preferably an African-American, to check “possible errors” of fact and interpretation. “The writing of history of the Reconstruction period has been so completely confederatized during the last two or three generations that we naturally are somewhat anxious,” he wrote.

    Selznick initially floated the name of one potential African-American adviser, but ultimately hired two whites, including a journalist friend of Mitchell’s, tasked with keeping the Southern speech authentic (a matter of great concern to some white fans of the novel who wrote to Selznick) and avoiding missteps on details like the appropriateness of Scarlett’s headgear at an evening party.

    Join Times theater reporter Michael Paulson in conversation with Lin-Manuel Miranda, catch a performance from Shakespeare in the Park and more as we explore signs of hope in a changed city. For a year, the “Offstage” series has followed theater through a shutdown. Now we’re looking at its rebound.

    The film tried to sanitize some of the novel’s racist elements. References to the Ku Klux Klan, which the novel calls “a tragic necessity,” were omitted. Reluctantly, Selznick also cut from the script a common but notorious racial slur (“the hate word,” as one African-American journalist who weighed in put it).

    The film also finessed a scene from the book where Scarlett, while riding alone through a shantytown, is nearly raped by a black man, which prompts a retaliatory raid by the Klan. Instead, the attacker is a poor white man, and the nature of the posse that rides out to avenge her honor is not specified.

    “A group of men can go out and ‘get’ the perpetrators of an attempted rape without having long white sheets over them,” Selznick wrote in a memo.

    But the film put the nostalgic Lost Cause mythology — by that point, the dominant national view of the Civil War — front and center, starting with the opening title cards paying tribute to “a land of Cavaliers and Cotton fields,” a “pretty world where Gallantry took its last bow.”

    Even during production, there were calls for an African-American boycott. Afterward, there were protests outside theaters in Chicago, Washington and other cities.

    While responses to the finished film in the black press were mixed, the criticism was harsh. The Chicago Defender initially published a column calling it inoffensive and the performances of Hattie McDaniel (Mammy) and Butterfly McQueen (Prissy) examples of “Negro artistry.” But a week later, it ran a scathing review calling it “a weapon of terror against black America,” a sentiment echoed in other black papers like the Pittsburgh Courier, which denounced the depiction of all blacks as “happy house servants and unthinking, helpless clods.”

    Among those who saw it around this time was a teenage Malcolm X. “I was the only Negro in the theater, and when Butterfly McQueen went into her act, I felt like crawling under the rug,” he wrote in his autobiography.

    White audiences, meanwhile, were largely swept up in celebration of the nearly four-hour Technicolor epic, with its hundreds of extras, lavish costumes and themes of grit and survival that resonated with a country emerging from the Depression.

    White newspapers, including The New York Times, carried rapturous coverage of the movie’s premieres in New York and Atlanta, where the four days of festivities included the Ebenezer Baptist Church choir (including, one film scholar has noted, a 10-year-old Martin Luther King Jr.) singing in front of a mock-up of Tara, the film’s plantation. But few noted the African-American protests, or any black criticism at all.

    Even past the 1960s, the film endured for many white Americans as a beloved cultural touchstone, a symbol of golden age Hollywood — and even American identity itself.

    In 1974, NBC paid a record-smashing $5 million dollars (more than $26 million today) for the right to show the film once, as part of its Bicentennial programming. Broadcast over two nights, it was watched by 47 percent of all American households.

    Some African-American artists have made direct challenges to its whitewashed nostalgia. In 2001, the Mitchell estate fought a losing copyright battle against “The Wind Done Gone,” the novelist Alice Randall’s parody from the point of view of the enslaved. The authorized sequels, meanwhile, have tried, sometimes awkwardly, to update the book’s racial politics, while keeping the white-centered romance intact.

    In Alexandra Ripley’s “Scarlett,” from 1991, Scarlett lovingly tends to the dying Mammy, who is ushered offstage (along with most of the black characters) early on. “Rhett Butler’s People,” by Donald McCaig, from 2007, focused on the post-Civil War struggle over the re-establishment of white supremacy, but glossed over the issue of the Klan (and Rhett’s possible membership).

    Other institutions have changed their approaches. Since the Atlanta History Center took over the Margaret Mitchell House from a private group in 2006, the focus has shifted from a literary view that downplayed racial controversy to an emphasis on the story’s racist tropes and distorted history — and the fact that African-Americans objected from the beginning.

    Jessica VanLanDuyt, the center’s vice president for guest experience, said the house has seen declining visitor numbers in recent years, though there remains a strong contingent from other countries where “Gone With the Wind” is popular.

    But even in America, it retains its allure, including among audiences “who know better,” as the New York Times critic Vincent Canby put it in a mostly rapturous 1998 reassessment of the movie.

    Jackson, the Wellesley historian, said students usually come to her class having never seen the film. But it ends up being one of the offerings they respond to the most.

    “Students will say, ‘I love ‘Gone With the Wind’ and ‘I hate ‘Gone With the Wind,’” she said. “They love the aesthetics, which are so over the top, it’s like candy. But they know I’m going to make them dig deeper. And when they do, they say, ‘This is awful.’”


    “Gone with the Wind” published - HISTORY

    ATLANTA, Aug. 16--Margaret Mitchell, author of "Gone With the Wind," died today at Grady Hospital of injuries received when she was struck down by a speeding automobile on Peachtree Street last Thursday.

    Not once since the accident had the 49-year-old Miss Mitchell fully regained consciousness, according to hospital attaches. At infrequent intervals, she had murmured vague, incoherent responses to spoken questions.

    Shortly after Miss Mitchell died, the driver of the auto which struck her surrendered voluntarily to police and Atlanta Police Chief Herbert Jenkins said an "immediate murder indictment" would be sought. Hugh D. Gravitt, 29, the driver, had been out on bond of $5,450, after having been arrested at the scene of the accident and charged with drunken driving, speeding and driving on the wrong side of the street.

    Gravitt, an Atlanta taxi driver, was off duty and driving a private car when Miss Mitchell was struck as she and her husband, John R. Marsh, were crossing Peachtree at Thirteenth Street on the way to a neighborhood movie. Mr. Marsh was the "J.R.M." to whom "Gone With the Wind" was dedicated.

    Skull and Pelvis Fractured

    Physicians said X-rays revealed Miss Mitchell&aposs skull was fractured from the top of her head to the top of the spine and that her pelvis was fractured in two places.

    Miss Mitchell suffered a sudden sinking spell shortly after 11 A. M. today. Three physicians were in attendance when death came at 11:59.

    Gov. Herman Talmadge ordered the flag over the State Capitol lowered to half-staff until after the funeral.

    The Governor also announced the state would act to tighten regulations in the licensing of taxi drivers. The driver of the car which killed Miss Mitchell had twenty-three previous traffic violations on police records.

    A private funeral service will be held at 10 A. M. Thursday at Spring Hill, Atlanta funeral home, with Dean Raimundo de Ovies of St. Philip&aposs Cathedral, Atlanta, officiating. Burial will be in Oakland Cemetery here.

    Besides her husband Miss Mitchell leaves a brother, Stephens Mitchell, and two nephews, Eugene and Joseph Mitchell of Atlanta.

    A Housewife in Atlanta

    Margaret Mitchell was an Atlanta housewife, a former newspaper woman, when she showed a suitcase full of manuscript to a talent scout for the Macmillan Company in 1935. The publication, the next June, of her 1,037-page novel of the South in reconstruction days, "Gone With the Wind," made her an international personage.

    The fame which came with her book brought her an estimated $1,000,000 in book royalties, movie payments and other allied returns in less than four years, but disrupted her way of living. She said one day, in a fit of exasperation as she left for a mountain hideaway from the throngs which besieged her by telephone, telegraph and in person, that she had determined never to write another word as long as she lived.

    The novel, her first, was such a phenomenal success, its characters so gripped the imagination of the book&aposs readers, that it might almost be labeled a Frankenstein which overwhelmed its maker. She was almost lost in the confusion which greeted the premiere of the movie of her book in Atlanta on Dec. 15, 1939.

    Miss Mitchell in private life was Mrs. John R. Marsh, wife of the retired advertising manager of the Georgia Power Company. She was born in Atlanta soon after the turn of the century, the daughter of a lawyer. The family was descended from the Huguenot settlers of South Carolina.

    Father Headed Bar Group

    Her father, the late Eugene M. Mitchell, was an attorney and former president of the Atlanta Bar Association, former president of the Atlanta Historical Society and a recognized authority on Atlanta and Georgia history.

    Her mother was the late Maybelle Stephens Mitchell. She had one brother, Stephens Mitchell, also an attorney, editor of the Atlanta Historical Society Bulletin, former president of the Atlanta Bar Association and of the Atlanta Lawyers Club. Her family has been living in or near Atlanta since before the town originated.

    She attended the Atlanta public schools, was graduated from Washington Seminary, an Atlanta preparatory school, and attended Smith College at Northampton, Mass., for about a year, leaving because of the death of her mother. She made her society debut in Atlanta.

    Miss Mitchell became a member of the staff of The Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine in 1922 and worked there until 1926, writing under the name of Peggy Mitchell. She was forced to abandon this position, however, because of an injured ankle. It was then that she began writing her famous novel, "Gone With the Wind." She had been married the year before.

    Miss Mitchell was familiar with stories of the Old South, of the burning of Atlanta by Sherman on his march to the sea, of the dreary days of reconstruction. She once said that she was 10 years old before she learned that Robert E. Lee did not win the Civil War.

    The stories her father told, those she heard from Negro servants, from relatives and from friends finally began to form into a novel in her mind. With her marriage and her injured ankle making her life sedentary, she began to write.

    When she was a reporter on The Journal, she said, she always had trouble framing the opening paragraphs to her stories, so she always wrote the last part first.

    "You can imagine how my city editor loved me," she explained.

    So, when she started her book, she wrote the last chapter and then started working back from there.

    In her Atlanta apartment the manuscript piled up for nine years. Some of it was typewritten, some of it was scribbled on the backs of laundry lists. It was in desks, bureau drawers and on closet shelves. Friends had read parts of it, but she had never shown it to a publisher.

    In the fall of 1935 H. S. Latham, a vice president of the Macmillan Company, made a trip through the South looking for new authors. He had luncheon in Atlanta with Miss Mitchell and Mrs. Medora Perkerson, who also had worked on The Journal. They were suggesting writers he should see. Finally, he recalled later, Mrs. Perkerson said to him, "Peggy has written a book."

    Miss Mitchell was bashful about it, waved the suggestion aside, said the book wasn&apost finished. They went driving to look at the dogwood.

    That night, after he had returned to his hotel, Miss Mitchell went to see him. She had changed her mind after going home, had gathered her manuscript together and had taken it down to him. He had to buy a new suitcase to hold it.

    A few days later he wired Miss Mitchell that his company had accepted the book for publication, subject to some revision. For six months she labored at the job of rewriting, editing, pulling the threads of the story together.

    "Gone With the Wind" went on the bookstands June 30, 1936. She had hoped for a sale of 5,000 copies. On one day that summer it sold 50,000.

    Scarlett O&aposHara and Rhett Butler became national characters, and then international. In two years the book was translated and printed in sixteen foreign languages. The sales passed 500,000, then a million, then a million and a half, and on up. David O. Selznick paid her $50,000 for the movie rights and spent several millions making the picture. The question of who would play Scarlett and Rhett and the other characters was discussed all over the world.

    Early in 1949 it was announced that 8,000,000 copies of the book had been sold in thirty languages in forty countries, and that 50,000 copies were still being sold yearly in the United States. The motion-picture version, with Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, became America&aposs most popular movie and was shown throughout the country to big audiences in 1947 for the fourth time.

    Won 1937 Pulitzer Prize

    The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937. Miss Mitchell received an honorary degree from Smith College, medals and decorations, and was besieged for her autograph and the story of her life. Two years after the book was published, when she granted her first formal interview to New York reporters, she was asked if she was writing anything else, or intended to. She said she had been so busy answering the phone, the doorbell and her fan mail that she had not had time. A Danish bookseller gave a trip to Atlanta to the winner of a raffle. She was impersonated all over the country and in Europe. Rumors about her and her mode of life were as thick, and as unpredictable, as bees in a clover patch.

    When, in 1943, Gov. Ellis Arnall of Georgia wanted to appoint her to the State Board of Education, Miss Mitchell declined the appointment in a letter in which she wrote, "My time is not my own. It has not been my own since &aposGone With the Wind&apos was published. The very fact that since 1936 I have never had the time to sit down to my typewriter and write--or try to write--another book will give you some indication of what I mean."

    She added that "being the author of &aposGone With the Wind&apos is a full-time job, and most days it is an overtime job filling engagements and meeting visitors. In addition, I am giving all the time I can to war activities and future commitments in this field which will take me out of the city."

    Asked about her ambitions at the height of the fame of "Gone With the Wind" she said that she hoped to put on weight, become "fat and amiable," grow old gracefully.

    The criticism which greeted her book was not all in praise, although much of it was lavish. Whatever posterity may decide as to its merits, Miss Mitchell wrote a book which was the most phenomenal best seller ever written by an unknown author of a first novel.


    HBO Max Pulls ‘Gone With the Wind,’ Citing Racist Depictions

    HBO Max has removed from its catalog “Gone With the Wind,” the 1939 movie long considered a triumph of American cinema but one that romanticizes the Civil War-era South while glossing over its racial sins.

    The streaming service pledged to eventually bring the film back “with a discussion of its historical context” while denouncing its racial missteps, a spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday.

    Set on a plantation and in Atlanta, the film won multiple Academy Awards, including best picture and best supporting actress for Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American to win an Oscar, and it remains among the most celebrated movies in cinematic history. But its rose-tinted depiction of the antebellum South and its blindness to the horrors of slavery have long been criticized, and that scrutiny was renewed this week as protests over police brutality and the death of George Floyd continued to pull the United States into a wide-ranging conversation about race.

    “‘Gone With the Wind’ is a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American society,” an HBO Max spokesperson said in a statement. “These racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today, and we felt that to keep this title up without an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be irresponsible.”

    HBO Max, owned by AT&T, pulled the film on Tuesday, one day after John Ridley, the screenwriter of “12 Years a Slave,” wrote an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times calling for its removal. Mr. Ridley said he understood that films were snapshots of their moment in history, but that “Gone With the Wind” was still used to “give cover to those who falsely claim that clinging to the iconography of the plantation era is a matter of ‘heritage, not hate.’”

    “It is a film that, when it is not ignoring the horrors of slavery, pauses only to perpetuate some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color,” he wrote.

    By several measures, the film was one of the most successful in American history. It received eight competitive Academy Awards and remains the highest-grossing film ever when adjusting for inflation. In 2007, it placed sixth on the American Film Institute’s list of greatest films of all time.

    There was little criticism of the film when it was released, though in 1939 an editorial board member of The Daily Worker, a newspaper published by the Communist Party USA, called it “an insidious glorification of the slave market” and the Ku Klux Klan.

    But the world in which it is viewed has changed, and with each decade discomfort has grown as people revisit its racial themes and what was omitted. In 2017, the Orpheum theater in Memphis said it would stop showing the film, as it had done each year for 34 years, after receiving complaints from patrons and other commenters. The president of the theater said it could not show a film “that is insensitive to a large segment of its local population.”

    Based on a 1936 book by Margaret Mitchell, the film chronicles the love affair of Scarlett O’Hara, the daughter of a plantation owner, and Rhett Butler, a charming gambler. Critics have long said that the slaves are depicted as well-treated, content and loyal to their masters, a trope that rewrites the reality of how enslaved people were forced to live. Ms. McDaniel won an Oscar for her performance as Mammy, an affable slave close to Scarlett O’Hara.

    The nationwide protests of recent weeks have caused other entertainment companies to reconsider how their content is viewed in the current climate. The Paramount Network said on Tuesday that it had removed “Cops,” the long-running reality show that glorified police officers, from its schedule before its 33rd season.

    There have also been similar moves in Britain. On Monday, the BBC removed episodes of the comedy series “Little Britain” — which featured one character in blackface — from its streaming service.

    “Times have changed since ‘Little Britain’ first aired so it is not currently available on BBC iPlayer,” a BBC spokesperson said. The show had already been removed from Netflix and was also taken off the BritBox streaming service.

    “Little Britain,” which was shown in the early 2000s, was created by David Walliams and Matt Lucas. Mr. Lucas, who was recently named the new host of “The Great British Baking Show,” has said in interviews that he would not make “Little Britain” today.


    Contents

    They say that history is written by the victors, but the Civil War has been the rare exception. Perhaps the need for the country to stay together made it necessary for the North to sit silently and accept the South's conception of the conflict. In any case, for most of the past 150 years, the South’s version of the war and Reconstruction has held sway in our schools, our literature and, since the dawn of feature films, our movies.

    Though the idea of the Lost Cause has more than one origin, it mainly argues that slavery was not the primary cause of the Civil War. [13] This ignores the declarations of secession by the Confederate states, the declarations of congressmen who left the US Congress to join the Confederacy, and the treatment of slavery in the Confederate Constitution. [14] It also denies or minimizes the wartime writings and speeches of Confederate leaders, such as CSA Vice President Alexander Stephens's Cornerstone Speech, instead favoring the leaders' postwar views. [15] It stresses the idea of secession as a defense against a Northern threat to Southern way of life and says that the threat violated the states' rights guaranteed by the Constitution. It says that any state had the right to secede, a point strongly denied by the North. The Lost Cause portrays the South as more adherent to Christian values than the allegedly greedy North. It portrays slavery as more benevolent than cruel, alleging that it taught Christianity and "civilization". Stories of happy slaves are often used as propaganda in an effort to defend slavery the United Daughters of the Confederacy had a "Faithful Slave Memorial Committee" and erected the Heyward Shepherd monument in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. These stories would be used to explain slavery to Northerners. The Lost Cause portrays slave owners being kind to their slaves. In explaining Confederate defeat, it says that the main factor was not qualitative inferiority in leadership or fighting ability but the massive quantitative superiority of the Yankee industrial machine. [16] At the peak of troop strength in 1863, Union soldiers outnumbered Confederate soldiers by over two to one, and financially the Union had three times the bank deposits of the Confederacy. [17]

    19th century Edit

    The defeat of the Confederacy devastated many Southerners economically, emotionally, and psychologically. Before the war, many white Southerners proudly felt that their rich military tradition would enable them to prevail in the forthcoming conflict. When that did not happen, many white Southerners sought consolation in attributing their loss to factors beyond their control, such as physical size and overwhelming brute force. [8]

    The architects of the Lost Cause acted from various motives. They collectively sought to justify their own actions and allow themselves and other former Confederates to find something positive in all-encompassing failure. They also wanted to provide their children and future generations of white Southerners with a 'correct' narrative of the war. [8]

    The Lost Cause became a key part of the reconciliation process between North and South around 1900 [ further explanation needed ] and formed the basis of many white Southerners' postbellum war commemorations. The United Daughters of the Confederacy, a major organization, has been associated with the Lost Cause for over a century. [18] Yale University history professor Rollin G. Osterweis summarizes the content that pervaded "Lost Cause" writings:

    The Legend of the Lost Cause began as mostly a literary expression of the despair of a bitter, defeated people over a lost identity. It was a landscape dotted with figures drawn mainly out of the past: the chivalric planter the magnolia-scented Southern belle the good, gray Confederate veteran, once a knight of the field and saddle and obliging old Uncle Remus. All these, while quickly enveloped in a golden haze, became very real to the people of the South, who found the symbols useful in the reconstituting of their shattered civilization. They perpetuated the ideals of the Old South and brought a sense of comfort to the New. [19]

    The Louisiana State University history professor Gaines Foster wrote in 2013:

    Scholars have reached a fair amount of agreement about the role the Lost Cause played in those years, although the scholarship on the Lost Cause, like the memory itself, remains contested. The white South, most agree, dedicated enormous effort to celebrating the leaders and common soldiers of the Confederacy, emphasizing that they had preserved their and the South's honor. [20]

    The term Lost Cause first appeared in the title of an 1866 book by the Virginian author and journalist Edward A. Pollard, The Lost Cause: A New Southern History of the War of the Confederates. [21] He promoted many of the aforementioned themes of the Lost Cause. In particular, he dismissed the role of slavery in starting the war and understates the cruelty of American slavery, even promoting it as a way of improving the lives of Africans:

    We shall not enter upon the discussion of the moral question of slavery. But we may suggest a doubt here whether that odious term "slavery" which has been so long imposed, by the exaggeration of Northern writers, upon the judgement and sympathies of the world, is properly applied to that system of servitude in the South, which was really the mildest in the world which did not rest on acts of debasement and disenfranchisement, but elevated the African, and was in the interest of human improvement and which, by the law of the land, protected the negro in life and limb, and in many personal rights, and, by the practice of the system, bestowed upon him a sum of individual indulgences, which made him altogether the most striking type in the world of cheerfulness and contentment. [22] [ full citation needed ]

    However, it was the articles written by General Jubal A. Early in the 1870s for the Southern Historical Society that firmly established the Lost Cause as a long-lasting literary and cultural phenomenon. The 1881 publication of The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government by Jefferson Davis, a two-volume defense of the Southern cause, provided another important text in the history of the Lost Cause. Davis blamed the enemy for "whatever of bloodshed, of devastation, or shock to republican government has resulted from the war". He charged that the Yankees fought "with a ferocity that disregarded all the laws of civilized warfare". The book remained in print and often served to justify the Southern position and to distance it from slavery. [23]

    Early's original inspiration for his views may have come from General Robert E. Lee. When Lee published his farewell order to the Army of Northern Virginia, he consoled his soldiers by speaking of the "overwhelming resources and numbers" that the Confederate army had fought against. In a letter to Early, Lee requested information about enemy strengths from May 1864 to April 1865, the period in which his army was engaged against Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant (the Overland Campaign and the Siege of Petersburg). Lee wrote: "My only object is to transmit, if possible, the truth to posterity, and do justice to our brave Soldiers." [24] In another letter, Lee wanted all "statistics as regards numbers, destruction of private property by the Federal troops, &c." because he intended to demonstrate the discrepancy in strength between the two armies and believed it would "be difficult to get the world to understand the odds against which we fought". Referring to newspaper accounts that accused him of culpability in the loss, he wrote, "I have not thought proper to notice, or even to correct misrepresentations of my words & acts. We shall have to be patient, & suffer for awhile at least. At present the public mind is not prepared to receive the truth." [24] All of the themes were made prominent by Early and the Lost Cause writers in the 19th century and continued to play an important role throughout the 20th. [25]

    In a November 1868 report, U.S. Army general George Henry Thomas, a Virginian who had fought for the Union in the war, noted efforts made by former Confederates to paint the Confederacy in a positive light:

    [T]he greatest efforts made by the defeated insurgents since the close of the war have been to promulgate the idea that the cause of liberty, justice, humanity, equality, and all the calendar of the virtues of freedom, suffered violence and wrong when the effort for southern independence failed. This is, of course, intended as a species of political cant, whereby the crime of treason might be covered with a counterfeit varnish of patriotism, so that the precipitators of the rebellion might go down in history hand in hand with the defenders of the government, thus wiping out with their own hands their own stains a species of self-forgiveness amazing in its effrontery, when it is considered that life and property—justly forfeited by the laws of the country, of war, and of nations, through the magnanimity of the government and people—was not exacted from them.

    Memorial associations such as the United Confederate Veterans, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and Ladies Memorial Associations integrated Lost-Cause themes to help white Confederate-sympathizing Southerners cope with the many changes during the era, most significantly Reconstruction. [27] [28] The institutions have lasted to the present and descendants of Southern soldiers continue to attend their meetings.

    In 1879, John McElroy published Andersonville: A Story of Rebel Military Prisons, which strongly criticised the Confederate treatment of prisoners and implied in the preface that the mythology of the Confederacy was well established and that criticism of the otherwise-lionized Confederates was met with disdain:

    I know that what is contained herein will be bitterly denied. I am prepared for this. In my boyhood I witnessed the savagery of the Slavery agitation – in my youth I felt the fierceness of the hatred directed against all those who stood by the Nation. I know that hell hath no fury like the vindictiveness of those who are hurt by the truth being told to them. [29]

    In 1907, Hunter Holmes McGuire, physician of Stonewall Jackson, published in a book papers sponsored by the Grand Camp of Confederate Veterans of Virginia, supporting the Lost Cause tenets that "slavery [was] not the cause of the war" and that "the North [was] the aggressor in bringing on the war". The book quickly sold out and required a second edition. [30]

    Reunification of North and South Edit

    Nolan states that the Lost Cause "facilitated the reunification of the North and the South". [32] He quotes Foster, who wrote that "signs of respect from former foes and northern publishers made acceptance of reunion easier. By the mid-eighties, most southerners had decided to build a future within a reunited nation. A few remained irreconcilable, but their influence in southern society declined rapidly." [33] Nolan mentioned a second aspect: "The reunion was exclusively a white man's phenomenon and the price of the reunion was the sacrifice of the African Americans." [34]

    The historian Caroline Janney stated:

    Providing a sense of relief to white Southerners who feared being dishonored by defeat, the Lost Cause was largely accepted in the years following the war by white Americans who found it to be a useful tool in reconciling North and South. [35]

    The Yale historian David W. Blight wrote:

    The Lost Cause became an integral part of national reconciliation by dint of sheer sentimentalism, by political argument, and by recurrent celebrations and rituals. For most white Southerners, the Lost Cause evolved into a language of vindication and renewal, as well as an array of practices and public monuments through which they could solidify both their Southern pride and their Americanness. In the 1890s, Confederate memories no longer dwelled as much on mourning or explaining defeat they offered a set of conservative traditions by which the entire country could gird itself against racial, political, and industrial disorder. And by the sheer virtue of losing heroically the Confederate soldier provided a model of masculine devotion and courage in an age of gender anxieties and ruthless material striving. [36]

    In exploring the literature of reconciliation, the historian William Tynes Cowa wrote: "The cult of the Lost Cause was part of a larger cultural project: the reconciliation of North and South after the Civil War." He identified a typical image in postwar fiction: a materialistic, rich Yankee man marrying an impoverished spiritual Southern bride as a symbol of happy national reunion. [37] Examining films and visual art, Gallagher identified the theme of "white people North and South [who] extol the American virtues both sides manifested during the war, to exalt the restored nation that emerged from the conflict, and to mute the role of African Americans". [38]

    Bruce Catton argued that the myth or legend helped achieve national reconciliation between North and South. He concluded that "the legend of the lost cause has served the entire country very well", and he went on to say: [39]

    The things that were done during the Civil War have not been forgotten, of course, but we now see them through a veil. We have elevated the entire conflict to the realm where it is no longer explosive. It is a part of American legend, a part of American history, a part, if you will, of American romance. It moves men mightily, to this day, but it does not move them in the direction of picking up their guns and going at it again. We have had national peace since the war ended, and we will always have it, and I think the way Lee and his soldiers conducted themselves in the hours of surrender has a great deal to do with it.

    New South Edit

    Historians have stated that the "Lost Cause" theme helped white Southerners adjust to their new status and move forward into what became known as "the New South". Hillyer states that the Confederate Memorial Literary Society (CMLS), founded by elite white women in Richmond, Virginia, in the 1890s, exemplifies that solution. The CMLS founded the Confederate Museum to document and to defend the Confederate cause and to recall the antebellum mores that the new South's business ethos was thought to be displacing. By focusing on military sacrifice, rather than on grievances regarding the North, the Confederate Museum aided the process of sectional reconciliation, according to Hillyer. By depicting slavery as benevolent, the museum's exhibits reinforced the notion that Jim Crow laws were a proper solution to the racial tensions that had escalated during Reconstruction. Lastly, by glorifying the common soldier and portraying the South as "solid", the museum promoted acceptance of industrial capitalism. Thus the Confederate Museum both critiqued and eased the economic transformations of the New South and enabled Richmond to reconcile its memory of the past with its hopes for the future and to leave the past behind as it developed new industrial and financial roles. [40]

    The historian Jacquelyn Dowd Hall stated that the Lost-Cause theme was fully developed around 1900 in a mood not of despair but of triumphalism for the New South. Much was left out of the Lost Cause:

    [N]either the trauma of slavery for African Americans nor their heroic, heartbreaking freedom struggle found a place in that story. But the Lost Cause narrative also suppressed the memories of many white southerners. Memories of how, under slavery, power bred cruelty. Memories of the bloody, unbearable realities of war. Written out too were the competing memories and identities that set white southerners one against another, pitting the planters against the up-country, Unionists against Confederates, Populists and mill workers against the corporations, home-front women against war-besotted, broken men. [41]

    Statues of Moses Jacob Ezekiel Edit

    The Virginian Moses Jacob Ezekiel, the most prominent Confederate expatriate, was the only sculptor to have seen action during the Civil War. From his studio in Rome, where a Confederate flag hung proudly, he created a series of statues of Confederate "heroes" which both celebrated the Lost Cause in which he was a "true believer", [42] and set a highly visible model for Confederate monument-erecting in the early 20th century.

    "Ezekiel's work is integral to this sympathetic view of the Civil War." [42] His Confederate statues included:

    • Virginia Mourning Her Dead (1903), for which Ezekiel declined payment, but another source says that he charged half of his usual fee. [43] : 83 The original is at his alma mater, Virginia Military Institute, honoring the 10 cadets (students) who died, one (Thomas G. Jefferson, the president's great-great-nephew) in Ezekiel's arms, at the Battle of New Market. [44] : 109–111 It stands adjacent to the graves of six of the cadets. [43] : 83 In 1914 Ezekiel gave a 3/4-size replica to the Museum of the Confederacy (since 2014 part of the American Civil War Museum) in his native Richmond. [43] : 84
    • Statue of Stonewall Jackson (1910), West Virginia State Capitol, Charleston, West Virginia. [45] A replica is at the Virginia Military Institute.
    • Southern, also called The Lookout (1910), Confederate Cemetery, Johnson's Island, Ohio. Commissioned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy Ezekiel asked only to be reimbursed the cost of the casting. [43] : 94
    • Tyler Confederate Memorial Gateway (1913), City Cemetery, Hickman, Kentucky. Commissioned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. [43] : 120
    • Statue of John Warwick Daniel (c. 1913), Lynchburg, Virginia. (1914), Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, which Ezekiel called New South. [46] "But no monument exemplifies the Lost Cause narrative better than Ezekiel's Confederate Memorial in Arlington, where the woman representing the South appears to be protecting the black figures below." Ezekiel included "faithful slaves" because he wanted to undermine what he called the "lies" told about the South and slavery in. Uncle Tom's Cabin, and wished to rewrite history "correctly" (his word) to depict black slaves' support for the Confederate cause. [47] According to his descendant Judith Ezekiel, who has headed a group of his descendants calling for its removal, "This statue was a very, very deliberate part of revisionist history of racist America." According to historian Gabriel Reich, "the statue functions as propaganda for the Lost Cause.… It couldn't be worse." [42]

    Kali Holloway, Director of the Make It Right Project, devoted to the removal of Confederate monuments, points out the influence of Ezekiel:

    What stands out most is the lasting impact of Ezekiel's tributes to the Confederacy—his homage to 'Stonewall' Jackson in West Virginia his 'loyal slave' monument in Arlington his personification of Virginia mourning for her soldiers who died fighting for a treasonous nation created in defense of black chattel slavery. Confederate monuments, including Ezekiel's highly visible sculptures, were part of a campaign to terrorize black Americans, to romanticize slavery, to promote an ahistorical lie about the honor of the Confederate cause, to cast in granite what Jim Crow codified in law. The consequences of all those things remain with us. [48]

    Works of Thomas Dixon Jr. Edit

    No writer did more to establish the Lost Cause than Thomas Dixon Jr. (1864–1946), a Southern lecturer, novelist, playwright, and filmmaker, and Baptist minister. [ citation needed ]

    Dixon, a North Carolinian, has been described as

    a professional racist who made his living writing books and plays attacking the presence of African Americans in the United States. A firm believer not only in white supremacy, but also in the "degeneration" of blacks after slavery ended, Dixon thought the ideal solution to America's racial problems was to deport all blacks to Africa. [49] : 510

    Dixon predicted a "race war" if current trends continued unchecked that he believed white people would surely win, having "3,000 years of civilization in their favor". [50] He also considered efforts to educate and civilize African Americans futile, even dangerous, and said that an African American was "all right" as a slave or laborer "but as an educated man he is a monstrosity". [51] In the short term, Dixon saw white racial prejudice as "self preservation", [52] and he worked to propagate a pro-Southern view of the recent Reconstruction period and spread it nationwide. He decried portrayals of Southerners as cruel and villainous in popular works such as Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), seeking to counteract these portrayals with his own work. [49] : 510

    He was a famous lecturer, often getting many more invitations to speak than he was capable of accepting. [53] Moreover, he regularly drew very large crowds, larger than any other Protestant preacher in the United States at the time, and newspapers frequently reported on his sermons and addresses. [54] : 389 [55] : 18 He resigned his minister's job so as to devote himself to lecturing full-time and supported his family that way. He had an immense following, and "his name had become a household word." [55] : 30 In a typical review, his talk was "decidedly entertaining and instructive. There were great beds of solid thought, and timely instruction at the bottom." [56]

    Between 1899 and 1903, he was heard by more than 5,000,000 people his play The Clansman was seen by over 4,000,000. [57] He was commonly referred to as the best lecturer in the country. [58] : 50–51 He enjoyed a "handsome income" from lectures and royalties on his novels, [53] especially from his share of The Birth of a Nation. He bought a "steam yacht" and named it Dixie. [53]

    After seeing a theatrical version of Uncle Tom's Cabin, "he became obsessed with writing a trilogy of novels about the Reconstruction period." [58] : 64 The trilogy comprised The Leopard's Spots. A Romance of the White Man's Burden—1865–1900 (1902), The Clansman: A Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan (1905), and The Traitor: A Story of the Fall of the Invisible Empire (1907). "Each of his trilogy novels had developed that black-and-white battle through rape/lynching scenarios that are always represented as prefiguring total racewar, should elite white men fail to resolve the nation's 'Negro Problem'." [59] Dixon also wrote a novel about Abraham Lincoln: The Southerner (1913), "the story of what Davis called 'the real Lincoln'", [58] : 80 another, The Man in Grey (1921), on Robert E. Lee, and one on Jefferson Davis, The Victim (1914).

    Dixon's method is hard-hitting, sensational, and uncompromising: it becomes easy to understand the reasons for the great popularity of these swiftly moving stories dealing with problems very close to people who had experienced the Civil War and Reconstruction and thousands of persons who had experienced Reconstruction were still alive when the trilogy of novels was published. Dixon's literary skill in evoking old memories and deep-seated prejudices made the novelist a respected spokesman—a champion for people who held bitter resentments." [58] : 75

    Dixon's most famous novels, The Leopard's Spots and The Clansman, and their even more famous and influential product, The Birth of a Nation (1915), the first film shown in the White House, shown the next day to the entire Supreme Court, 38 Senators, and the Secretary of the Navy, [60] : 171–172 [61] [62] [63] [64] are discussed below.

    From the 20th century to the present Edit

    The basic assumptions of the Lost Cause have proved durable for many in the modern South. The Lost Cause tenets frequently emerge during controversies surrounding public display of the Confederate flag and various state flags. The historian John Coski noted that the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), the "most visible, active, and effective defender of the flag" "carried forward into the twenty-first century, virtually unchanged, the Lost Cause historical interpretations and ideological vision formulated at the turn of the twentieth". [65] Coski wrote concerning "the flag wars of the late twentieth century":

    From the . early 1950s, SCV officials defended the integrity of the battle flag against trivialization and against those who insisted that its display was unpatriotic or racist. SCV spokesmen reiterated the consistent argument that the South fought a legitimate war for independence, not a war to defend slavery, and that the ascendant "Yankee" view of history falsely vilified the South and led people to misinterpret the battle flag. [66]

    The Confederate States used several flags during its existence from 1861 to 1865. Since the end of the American Civil War, the personal and official use of Confederate flags and flags derived from them has continued under considerable controversy. The second state flag of Mississippi, adopted in 1894 after the state's so-called "Redemption" and relinquished in 2020 during the George Floyd protests, included the Confederate battle flag. The city flag of Trenton, Georgia, which incorporates the Confederate battle flag, was adopted in 2001 as a protest against the Georgia General Assembly voting to significantly reduce the size of the Confederate battle flag on their state flag. [67] The city flag of Trenton greatly resembles the former state flag of Georgia. [68] [69]

    On March 23, 2015, a Confederate-flag-related case reached the Supreme Court of the United States. Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans centered on whether or not the state of Texas could deny a request by the SCV for vanity license plates that incorporated a Confederate battle flag. The Court heard the case on March 23, 2015. [70] On June 18, 2015, the Supreme Court, in a 5–4 vote, held that Texas was entitled to reject the SCV proposal. [70]

    In October 2015, outrage erupted online following the discovery of a Texan school's geography textbook, which described slaves as "immigrants" and "workers". [71] [72] The publisher, McGraw-Hill, announced that it would change the wording.

    Charles Wilson argues that many white Southerners, most of whom were conservative and pious evangelical Protestants, sought reasons for the Confederacy's defeat in religion. They felt that the Confederacy's defeat in the war was God's punishment for their sins and motivated by this belief, they increasingly turned to religion as their source of solace. The postwar era saw the birth of a regional "civil religion" which was heavily laden with symbolism and ritual clergymen were this new religion's primary celebrants. Wilson says that the ministers constructed

    Lost Cause ritualistic forms that celebrated their regional mythological and theological beliefs. They used the Lost Cause to warn Southerners of their decline from past virtue, to promote moral reform, to encourage conversion to Christianity, and to educate the young in Southern traditions in the fullness of time, they related to American values. [73]

    On both a cultural and religious level, white southerners tried to defend what their defeat in 1865 made impossible for them to defend on a political level. The Lost Cause, the South's defeat in a holy war, left southerners to face guilt, doubt, and the triumph of evil and they faced them by forming what C. Vann Woodward called a uniquely-Southern sense of the tragedy of history. [74]

    Poole stated that in fighting to defeat the Republican Reconstruction government in South Carolina in 1876, white Democrats portrayed the Lost Cause scenario through "Hampton Days" celebrations and shouted, "Hampton or Hell!" They staged the contest between Reconstruction opponent and Democratic candidate Wade Hampton and incumbent Governor Daniel H. Chamberlain as a religious struggle between good and evil and called for "redemption". [75] Indeed, throughout the South, the conservatives who overthrew Reconstruction were frequently called "Redeemers," echoing Christian theology. [76]

    Among writers on the Lost Cause, gender roles were a contested domain. Men typically honored the role which women played during the war by noting their total loyalty to the cause. Women, however, developed a much different approach to the cause by emphasizing female activism, initiative, and leadership. They explained that when all of the men left, the women took command, found substitute foods, rediscovered their old traditional skills with the spinning wheel when factory cloth became unavailable, and ran all of the farm or plantation operations. They faced apparent danger without having men to perform the traditional role of being their protectors. [77]

    The popularization of the Lost Cause interpretation and the erection of monuments was primarily the work of Southern women, the center of which was the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). [78] : 198

    UDC leaders were determined to assert women's cultural authority over virtually every representation of the region's past. They did this by lobbying for the creation of state archives and the construction of state museums, the preservation of national historic sites, and the construction of historic highways compiling genealogies interviewing former soldiers writing history textbooks and erecting monuments, which now moved triumphantly from cemeteries into town centers. More than half a century before women's history and public history emerged as fields of inquiry and action, the UDC, along with other women's associations, strove to etch women's accomplishments into the historical record and take history to the people, from the nursery and the fireside to the schoolhouse and the public square.

    The duty of memorializing the Confederate dead was a major activity for Southerners who were devoted to the Lost Cause, and chapters of the UDC played a central role in performing it. [80] The UDC was especially influential across the South in the early 20th century, where its main role was to preserve and uphold the memory of Confederate veterans, especially the husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers who died in the war. Its long-term impact was to promote the Lost Cause image of the antebellum plantation South as an idealized society which was crushed by the forces of Yankee modernization, which also undermined traditional gender roles. [81] In Missouri, a border state, the UDC was active in setting up its own system of memorials. [82]

    The Southern states set up their own pension systems for veterans and their dependents, especially for widows, since none of them was eligible to receive pensions under the federal pension system. The pensions were designed to honor the Lost Cause and reduce the severe poverty which was prevalent in the region. Male applicants for pensions had to demonstrate their continued loyalty to the "lost cause". Female applicants for pensions were rejected if their moral reputations were in question. [83]

    In Natchez, Mississippi, the local newspapers and veterans played a role in the maintenance of the Lost Cause. However, elite white women were central in establishing memorials such as the Civil War Monument which was dedicated on Memorial Day 1890. The Lost Cause enabled women noncombatants to lay a claim to the central event in their redefinition of Southern history. [84]

    The UDC was quite prominent but not at all unique in its appeal to upscale white Southern women. "The number of women's clubs devoted to filiopietism and history was staggering," stated historian W. Fitzhugh Brundage. He noted two typical club women in Texas and Mississippi who between them belonged to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, the Daughters of the Pilgrims, the Daughters of the War of 1812, the Daughters of Colonial Governors, and the Daughters of the Founders and Patriots of America, the Order of the First Families of Virginia, and the Colonial Dames of America as well as a few other historically-oriented societies. Comparable men, on the other hand, were much less interested in belonging to historical organizations, instead, they devoted themselves to secret fraternal societies and emphasized athletic, political, and financial exploits in order to prove their manhood. Brundage notes that after women's suffrage came in 1920, the historical role of the women's organizations eroded. [85]

    In their heyday in the first two decades of the 20th century, Brundage concluded:

    These women architects of whites' historical memory, by both explaining and mystifying the historical roots of white supremacy and elite power in the South, performed a conspicuous civic function at a time of heightened concern about the perpetuation of social and political hierarchies. Although denied the franchise, organized white women nevertheless played a dominant role in crafting the historical memory that would inform and undergird southern politics and public life. [86]

    [W. H. F. Lee] objected to the phrase too often used—South as well as North—that the Confederates fought for what they thought was right. They fought for what they knew was right. They, like the Greeks, fought for home, the graves of their sires, and their native land.

    [The negroes'] servile instincts rendered them contented with their lot, and their patient toil blessed the land of their abode with unmeasured riches. Their strong local and personal attachment secured faithful service . never was there happier dependence of labor and capital on each other. The tempter came, like the serpent of Eden, and decoyed them with the magic word of 'freedom' . He put arms in their hands, and trained their humble but emotional natures to deeds of violence and bloodshed, and sent them out to devastate their benefactors.

    Tenets of the Lost Cause movement include: [89] [ full citation needed ] [90]

    • Just as states had chosen to join the federal union, they can also choose to withdraw.
    • Defense of states' rights, rather than the preservation of chattel slavery, was the primary cause that led eleven Southern states to secede from the Union, thus precipitating the War.
    • Secession was a justifiable and constitutional response to Northern cultural and economic aggression against the superior, chivalric Southern way of life, which included slavery. The South was fighting for its independence. Many still want it.
    • The North was not attacking the South out of a pure, though misguided motive: to end slavery. Its motives were economic and venal.
    • Slavery was not only a benign institution but a "positive good". It was not based on economic greed, and slaves were happy and loyal to their kind masters (see: Heyward Shepherd). Slavery was good for the slaves, whose lives were much better than they would be in Africa, or what they would have as free blacks in the North, where there were numerous anti-black riots. (Blacks were perceived as foreigners, immigrants taking jobs away from whites by working for less, and also as dangerously sexual.) It was not characterized by racism, rape, barbarous working conditions, brutality, whipping, forced separation of families, and humiliation. [91]
    • Allgood identifies a Southern aristocratic chivalric ideal, typically called "the Southern Cavalier ideal", in the Lost Cause. It especially appeared in studies of Confederate partisans who fought behind Union lines, such as Nathan Bedford Forrest, Turner Ashby, John Singleton Mosby, and John Hunt Morgan. Writers stressed how they embodied courage in the face of heavy odds, as well as horsemanship, manhood, and martial spirit. [92]
    • Confederate generals such as Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, and Stonewall Jackson represented the virtues of Southern nobility and fought bravely and fairly. On the other hand, most Northern generals were characterized as possessing low moral standards, because they subjected the Southern civilian population to indignities like Sherman's March to the Sea and Philip Sheridan's burning of the Shenandoah Valley in the Valley Campaigns of 1864. Union General Ulysses S. Grant is often portrayed as an alcoholic. [93]
    • Losses on the battlefield were inevitable, given the North's superiority in resources and manpower. Battlefield losses were also sometimes the result of betrayal and incompetence on the part of certain subordinates of General Lee, such as General James Longstreet, who was reviled for doubting Lee at Gettysburg.
    • The Lost Cause focuses mainly on Lee and the Eastern Theater of operations, in northern Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. It usually takes Gettysburg as the turning point of the war, ignoring the Union victories in Tennessee and Mississippi, and that nothing could stop the Union army's humiliating advance through Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, ending with the Army of Northern Virginia's surrender at Appomattox.
    • General Sherman destroyed property out of meanness. Burning Columbia, South Carolina, before the war a hotbed of secession, served no military purpose. It was intended only to humiliate and impoverish. was a political disaster. They were incapable of voting intelligently and were easily bribed or misled. Reconstruction was a disaster, only benefitting Northern scoundrels (scalawags). It took great effort by chivalrous Southern gentlemen to reestablish white dominance, which was, among other things, what God wanted.

    Confederate generals Edit

    The most powerful images and symbols of the Lost Cause were Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, and Pickett's Charge. David Ulbrich wrote, "Already revered during the war, Robert E. Lee acquired a divine mystique within Southern culture after it. Remembered as a leader whose soldiers would loyally follow him into every fight no matter how desperate, Lee emerged from the conflict to become an icon of the Lost Cause and the ideal of the antebellum Southern gentleman, an honorable and pious man who selflessly served Virginia and the Confederacy. Lee's tactical brilliance at Second Bull Run and Chancellorsville took on legendary status, and despite his accepting full responsibility for the defeat at Gettysburg, Lee remained largely infallible for Southerners and was spared criticism even from historians until recent times." Victor Davis Hansen points out that Albert Sidney Johnston was the first officer to be appointed a full general by Jefferson Davis and to lead Confederate forces in the Western Theater. His death during the first day of the battle at Shiloh arguably led to the Confederacy's defeat in that conflict. [27]

    In terms of Lee's subordinates, the key villain in Jubal Early's view was General Longstreet. Although Lee took all responsibility for the defeats (particularly the one at Gettysburg), Early's writings place the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg squarely on Longstreet's shoulders by accusing him of failing to attack early in the morning of July 2, 1863, as instructed by Lee. In fact, however, Lee never expressed dissatisfaction with the second-day actions of his "Old War Horse". Longstreet was widely disparaged by Southern veterans because of his postwar cooperation with US President Ulysses S. Grant with whom he had shared a close friendship before the war and for joining the Republican Party. Grant, in rejecting the Lost Cause arguments, said in an 1878 interview that he rejected the notion that the South had simply been overwhelmed by numbers. Grant wrote, "This is the way public opinion was made during the war and this is the way history is made now. We never overwhelmed the South. What we won from the South we won by hard fighting." Grant further noted that when comparing resources, the "4,000,000 of negroes" who "kept the farms, protected the families, supported the armies, and were really a reserve force" were not treated as a southern asset. [94]

    "War of Northern Aggression" Edit

    One essential element of the Lost Cause movement was that the act of secession itself had been legitimate otherwise, all of the Confederacy's leading figures would have become traitors to the United States. To legitimize the Confederacy's rebellion, Lost Cause intellectuals challenged the legitimacy of the federal government and the actions of Abraham Lincoln as US President. That was exemplified in "Force or Consent as the Basis of American Government" by Mary Scrugham in which she presented frivolous arguments against the legality of Lincoln's presidency. [95] They include his receiving a minority and unmentioned plurality of the popular vote in the 1860 election and the false assertion that he made his position on slavery ambiguous. The accusations, though thoroughly refuted, gave rise to the belief that the North initiated the Civil War, making a designation of "The War of Northern Aggression" possible as one of the names of the American Civil War. [ citation needed ]

    Thomas Dixon Jr.'s novels Edit

    The Leopard's Spots Edit

    On the title page, Dixon cited Jeremiah 13:23: "Can the Ethiopian change his color, or the Leopard his spots?" He argued that just as the leopard cannot change his spots, the Negro cannot change his nature. The novel aimed to reinforce the superiority of the "Anglo-Saxon" race and advocate either for white dominance of black people or for the separation of the two races. [58] : 68 According to historian and Dixon biographer Richard Allen Cook, "the Negro, according to Dixon, is a brute, not a citizen: a child of a degenerate race brought from Africa." [58] : 68 Dixon expounded the views in The Times of Philadelphia while he discussed the novel in 1902: "The negro is a human donkey. You can train him, but you can't make of him a horse." [96] Dixon described the "towering figure of the freed negro" as "growing more and more ominous, until its menace overshadows the poverty, the hunger, the sorrows and the devastation of the South, throwing the blight of its shadow over future generations, a veritable black death for the land and its people." [96] Using characters from Uncle Tom's Cabin, he shows the "happy slave" who is now, free and manipulated by carpetbaggers, unproductive and disrespectful, and he believed that freedmen constantly pursued sexual relations with white women. [58] : 68 In Dixon's work, the heroic Ku Klux Klan protects American women. "It is emphatically a man's book," said Dixon to The Times. [96]

    The novel, which "blazes with oratorial fireworks", [96] "attracted attention as soon as it came from the press", and more than 100,000 copies were quickly sold. [53] "Sales eventually passed the million mark numerous foreign translations of the work appeared and Dixon's fame was international." [58] : 70

    Dixon insisted that the novel was based on reality:

    In an author's note. Mr. Dixon says: "In answer to hundreds of letters I wish to state that all of the incidents used in Book 1, which is properly the prologue of my story, were selected from authentic records, or came within my personal knowledge. The only serious liberty I have taken with history is to tone down the facts — to make them credible in fiction. [53]

    The Clansman Edit

    In The Clansman, the best known of the three novels, Dixon similarly claimed, "I have sought to preserve in this romance both the letter and the spirit of this remarkable period. The Clansman develops the true story of the 'Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy', which overturned the Reconstruction regime." [97]

    "Lincoln is pictured as a kind, sympathetic man who is trying bravely to sustain his policies despite the pressures upon him to have a more vindictive attitude toward the Southern states." [58] : 71 Reconstruction was an attempt by Augustus Stoneman, a thinly-veiled reference to US Representative Thaddeus Stevens of Pennnsylvania, "the greatest and vilest man who ever trod the halls of the American Congress", [58] : 71 to ensure that the Republican Party would stay in power by securing the Southern black vote. Stoneman's hatred for US President Andrew Johnson stems from Johnson's refusal to disenfranchise Southern whites. Stoneman's anger towards former slaveholders is intensified after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and Stoneman vows revenge on the South. His programs strip away the land owned by whites and give it to former slaves, as with the traditional idea of "forty acres and a mule". Men claiming to represent the government confiscate the material wealth of the South and destroy plantation-owning families. Finally, the former slaves are taught that they are superior to their former owners and should rise against them. These alleged injustices were the impetus for the creation of the Ku Klux Klan. "Mr. Dixon's purpose here is to show that the original formers of the Ku Klux Klan were modern knights errant, taking the only means at hand to right wrongs." [98] Dixon's father belonged to the Klan, and his maternal uncle and boyhood idol, [60] : 21 Col. Leroy McAfee, to whom The Clansman is dedicated, was a regional leader or, in the words of the dedication, "Grand Titan of the invisible Empire of the Ku Klux Klan".

    The depiction of the Klan's burning of crosses, as shown in the illustrations of the first edition, is an innovation of Dixon. It had not previously been used by the Klan, but was later taken up by them.

    "In Dixon's passionate prose, the book also treats at considerable length the poverty, shame, and degradation suffered by the Southerners at the hands of the Negroes and unscrupulous Northeners." [58] : 72 Martial law is declared, US troops are sent in, as they were during Reconstruction. "The victory of the South was complete when the Klan defeats the federal troups throughout the state." [58] : 72

    To publicize his views further, Dixon rewrote The Clansman as a play. Like the novel, it was a great commercial success there were multiple touring companies presenting the play simultaneously in different cities. Sometimes, it was banned. Birth of a Nation is actually based on the play, which was unpublished until 2007, [ clarification needed ] rather than directly on the novel.

    The Birth of a Nation Edit

    Another prominent and influential popularizer of the Lost Cause perspective was D. W. Griffith's highly-successful The Birth of a Nation (1915), which was based on Dixon's novel. Noting that Dixon and Griffith collaborated on Birth of a Nation, Blight wrote:

    Dixon's vicious version of the idea that blacks had caused the Civil War by their very presence, and that Northern radicalism during Reconstruction failed to understand that freedom had ushered blacks as a race into barbarism, neatly framed the story of the rise of heroic vigilantism in the South. Reluctantly, Klansmen—white men—had to take the law into their own hands in order to save Southern white womanhood from the sexual brutality of black men. Dixon's vision captured the attitude of thousands and forged in story form a collective memory of how the war may have been lost but Reconstruction was won—by the South and a reconciled nation. Riding as masked cavalry, the Klan stopped corrupt government, prevented the anarchy of 'Negro rule' and most of all, saved white supremacy. [99]

    In both The Clansman and the film, the Klan is portrayed as continuing the noble traditions of the antebellum South and the heroic Confederate soldier by defending Southern culture in general and Southern womanhood in particular against rape and depredations at the hands of the freedmen and Yankee carpetbaggers during Reconstruction. Dixon's narrative was so readily adopted that the film has been credited with the revival of the Klan in the 1910s and 1920s. The second Klan, which Dixon denounced, reached a peak membership of 2-5 million members. [100] The film's legacy is widereaching in the history of American racism, and even the now-iconic cross burnings of the KKK were based on Dixon's novel and the film made of it. (The first KKK did not burn crosses, which was originally a Scottish tradition, "Crann Tara", designed to gather clans for war. [101] )

    Later literature and films Edit

    The romanticization of the Lost Cause is captured in film, such as The Birth of a Nation, Gone With the Wind, Song of the South, and Tennessee Johnson—the latter of which the San Francisco Chronicle called "the height of Southern mythmaking". Gods and Generals reportedly lionizes Jackson and Lee. [12] CNN reported that these films "recast the antebellum South as a moonlight and magnolia paradise of happy slaves, affectionate slave owners and villainous Yankees". [102]

    Post-1920s literature Edit

    In his novels about the Sartoris family, William Faulkner referenced those who supported the Lost Cause ideal but suggested that the ideal itself was misguided and out of date. [103]

    The Confederate Veteran, a monthly magazine published in Nashville, Tennessee, from 1893 to 1932, made its publisher, Sumner Archibald Cunningham, a leader of the Lost Cause movement. [104]

    Gone with the Wind Edit

    The Lost Cause view reached tens of millions of Americans in the best-selling 1936 novel Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell and the Oscar-winning 1939 film. Helen Taylor wrote:

    Gone with the Wind has almost certainly done its ideological work. It has sealed in popular imaginations a fascinated nostalgia for the glamorous southern plantation house and ordered hierarchical society in which slaves are 'family,' and there is a mystical bond between the landowner and the rich soil those slaves work for him. It has spoken eloquently—albeit from an elitist perspective—of the grand themes (war, love, death, conflicts of race, class, gender, and generation) that have crossed continents and cultures. [105]

    From this combination of Lost Cause voices, a reunited America arose pure, guiltless, and assured that the deep conflicts in its past had been imposed upon it by otherworldly forces. The side that lost was especially assured that its cause was true and good. One of the ideas the reconciliationist Lost Cause instilled deeply into the national culture is that even when Americans lose, they win. Such was the message, the indomitable spirit, that Margaret Mitchell infused into her character Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind . [106]

    Southerners were portrayed as noble, heroic figures, living in a doomed romantic society that rejected the realistic advice offered by the Rhett Butler character and never understood the risk that they were taking in going to war.

    Song of the South Edit

    The 1946 Disney film Song of the South is the first to have combined live actors with animated shorts. [107] In the framing story, the actor James Baskett played Uncle Remus, a former slave who apparently is full of joy and wisdom despite having lived part of his life in slavery. There is a common misconception that the story takes place in the antebellum period, and that the African-American characters are slaves. [108] [109] One critic said, "Like other similar films of the period also dealing with the antebellum South, the slaves in the film are all good-natured, subservient, annoyingly cheerful, content and always willing to help a white person in need with some valuable life lesson along the way. In fact, they're never called slaves, but they come off more like neighborly workers lending a helping hand for some kind, benevolent plantation owners." [107] [12] [102] Disney has never released it on DVD [107] and the film has been withheld from Disney+. [110] It was released on VHS in the UK several times, most recently in 2000. [110]

    Gods and Generals Edit

    The 2003 Civil War film Gods and Generals, based on Jeff Shaara's 1996 novel of the same name, is widely viewed as championing the Lost Cause ideology by creating a presentation that was favorable to the Confederacy [111] [112] [113] and lionizes Generals Jackson and Lee. [12]

    Writing in the Journal of American History, the historian Steven E. Woodworth derided the movie as a modern day telling of Lost Cause mythology. [111] Woodworth called the movie "the most pro-Confederate film since Birth of a Nation, a veritable celluloid celebration of slavery and treason". He summed up his reasons for disliking the movie:

    Gods and Generals brings to the big screen the major themes of Lost Cause mythology that professional historians have been working for half a century to combat. In the world of Gods and Generals, slavery has nothing to do with the Confederate cause. Instead, the Confederates are nobly fighting for, rather than against, freedom, as viewers are reminded again and again by one white southern character after another. [111]

    Woodworth criticized the portrayal of slaves as being "generally happy" with their condition. He also criticized the relative lack of attention given to the motivations of Union soldiers fighting in the war. He excoriates the film for allegedly implying, in agreement with Lost Cause mythology, that the South was more "sincerely Christian". Woodworth concluded that the film through "judicial omission" presents "a distorted view of the Civil War". [111]

    The historian William B. Feis similarly criticized the director's decision "to champion the more simplistic-and sanitized-interpretations found in post-war "Lost Cause" mythology". [112] The film critic Roger Ebert described the movie as "a Civil War movie that Trent Lott might enjoy" and said of its Lost Cause themes, "If World War II were handled this way, there'd be hell to pay." [114]

    The consensus of film critics for the movie was that it had a firm "pro-confederate slant". [113]

    Professor Gallagher contended that Douglas Southall Freeman's definitive four-volume biography of Lee, published in 1934, "cemented in American letters an interpretation of Lee very close to Early's utterly heroic figure". [115] In that work, Lee's subordinates were primarily to blame for errors that lost battles. While Longstreet was the most common target of such attacks, others came under fire as well. Richard Ewell, Jubal Early, J. E. B. Stuart, A. P. Hill, George Pickett, and many others were frequently attacked and blamed by Southerners in an attempt to deflect criticism from Lee.

    Hudson Strode wrote a widely-read scholarly three-volume biography of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. A leading scholarly journal that reviewed it stressed Strode's political biases:

    His [Jefferson Davis's] enemies are devils, and his friends, like Davis himself, have been canonized. Strode not only attempts to sanctify Davis but also the Confederate point of view, and this study should be relished by those vigorously sympathetic with the Lost Cause. [116]

    One Dallas newspaper editorial in 2018 referred to the Texas Civil War Museum as "a lovely bit of 'Lost Cause' propaganda". [117]

    While not limited to the American South specifically, the Stop the Steal movement in the wake of the 2020 US presidential election has been interpreted as a reemergence of the Lost Cause idea and a manifestation of white backlash. [118] [119] [120] [121]

    Contemporary historians overwhelmingly agree that secession was motivated by slavery. There were numerous causes for secession, but preservation and expansion of slavery was easily the most important of them. The confusion may come from blending the causes of secession with the causes of the war, which were separate but related issues. (Lincoln entered a military conflict not to free the slaves but to put down a rebellion or, as he put it, to preserve the Union.) According to the historian Kenneth M. Stampp, each side supported states' rights or federal power only when it was convenient for it to do so. [122] Stampp also cited Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens's A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States as an example of a Southern leader who said that slavery was the "cornerstone of the Confederacy" when the war began and later said after his defeat that the war had not been about slavery but states' rights. According to Stampp, Stephens became one of the most ardent defenders of the 'Lost Cause' myth. [123]

    Similarly, the historian William C. Davis explained the Confederate Constitution's protection of slavery at the national level:

    To the old Union they had said that the Federal power had no authority to interfere with slavery issues in a state. To their new nation they would declare that the state had no power to interfere with a federal protection of slavery. Of all the many testimonials to the fact that slavery, and not states' rights, really lay at the heart of their movement, this was the most eloquent of all. [124]

    Davis further noted, "Causes and effects of the war have been manipulated and mythologized to suit political and social agendas, past and present." [125] The historian David Blight said that "its use of white supremacy as both means and ends" has been a key characteristic of the Lost Cause. [9] The historian Allan Nolan wrote:

    . the Lost Cause legacy to history is a caricature of the truth. The caricature wholly misrepresents and distorts the facts of the matter. Surely it is time to start again in our understanding of this decisive element of our past and to do so from the premises of history unadulterated by the distortions, falsehoods, and romantic sentimentality of the Myth of the Lost Cause. [126]

    The historian William C. Davis labeled many of the myths which surround the war "frivolous" and these myths include attempts to rename the war by "Confederate partisans." He also stated that names such as the War of Northern Aggression and the War Between the States, the expression which was coined by Alexander Stephens, were just attempts to deny the fact that the American Civil War was an actual civil war. [127]

    The historian A. Cash Koiniger theorized that Gary Gallagher has mischaracterized films which depict the Lost Cause. He wrote that Gallagher


    Controversy

    Published in 1936, Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind has been banned on social grounds. The book has been called "offensive" and "vulgar" because of the language and characterizations. Words like "damn" and "whore" were scandalous at the time. Also, the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice disapproved of Scarlett's multiple marriages. The term used to describe enslaved people was also offensive to readers. In more recent times, the membership of lead characters in the Ku Klux Klan is also problematic.

    The book joins the ranks of other books that controversially tackled issues of race, including Joseph Conrad's The Nigger of Narcissus, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin and Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.


    Watch the video: Jack Wilkins: Gone With the Wind Intro Example - Presented By TAGA Publishing (January 2022).