Volume I of the “Reconstruction Trilogy” set of historically accurate novels designed to tell the post Civil War story from the Southern side. Dixon, a Baptist preacher, was driven to write The Leopard’s Spots after seeing a stage version of Harriet Beeche Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Offended at the many lies and anti-Southern slander in that book, Dixon set about writing a comparative story told from the other side.
Written in the colorful (and now very politically incorrect) style of the time, this book tells a very unreconstructed account of Reconstruction, in which the villains are Simon Legree, Northern liberals and emancipated slaves, and the heroes are the white Southerners and the original Ku Klux Klan.
Although Dixon personally condemned slavery and Klan activities after Reconstruction ended, he argued that blacks must be denied political equality because that leads to social equality and miscegenation, and thus the destruction of civilization.
The Leopard’s Spots follows the story of Charles Gaston, son of a famous Confederate colonel, who leads his state of North Carolina on to a victory over the Reconstructionists who sought to create a Haiti-type situation in the South.
Although it was the author’s intention to set the balance straight, the book highlights the madness of slavery, the impossibility of segregation and that physical racial geographical separation is the only answer to the race problem.
The other two volumes in this trilogy, Vol. II: The Clansman and Vol. III: The Traitor, were equally as successful, with The Clansman being made into DW Griffiths’ smash movie hit, Birth of a Nation.
“Man! are you conscious of your immense responsibility? You have deliberately undone the work of Harriet Beecher Stowe!”—Dr Max Nordau, letter to Dixon.