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Thomas Dixon, Jr.
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    (January 11, 1864-April 3, 1946)
    Born in Shelby, North Carolina
    Lawyer, North Carolina state legislator, Baptist minister and author
    Wrote 22 novels
    Best known novel was 'The Clansman' (1905)
    He tried to launch a career as a stage actor, but failed, largely because of his extremely lanky appearance (6'3 tall, while weighing only 150 pounds).
    He claimed that he literally wept at 'the misrepresentation of southerners' in a drama based on Harriet Beecher Stowe's 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' -- and apparently decided the best way to rectify the situation was to misrepresent the south from the opposite end of the spectrum.
    His works glorified the Ku Klux Klan.
    He seems to have had an obsession about black men raping white women.
    His description of the KKK burning crosses (which the Klan did not actually do during the Reconstruction era) was adopted by the revived Klan of the 1920s.
    He also campaigned against anti-lynching laws and voting rights for women.
    He made a fortune on the lecture circuit, lost it in the Panic of 1907, made another fortune by investing in the motion picture 'The Birth of a Nation,' lost that in bad real estate investments, and died broke.
    Shortly before his death he said, 'I have outlived my fame.'
    He got elected to the North Carolina state legislature at age 20, before he was even able to vote.
    He left the legislature in protest over corruption, referring to politicians as 'the prostitutes of the masses.'
    As a preacher in New York City, he helped Teddy Roosevelt's campaign for governor.
    'The Clansman' inspired D.W. Griffith's influential film 'The Birth of a Nation' (1915).
    He refused to join the revived KKK, objecting to its anti-semitic and anti-Catholic positions.

Credit: C. Fishel

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