Real understanding of the economic and social forces which lay behind the Civil War and which came to a head in the years immediately following was long frustrated by passionate sectional animosity and racial prejudice. In attempting to allay sectional animosity such historians as Burgess, Dunning, Rhodes, and others of lesser caliber gave an interpretation of events which beclouded the fundamental issues of the period and contributed to a perpetuation of the myths on which American race prejudice feeds. These historians envisioned the Reconstruction era as a saturnalia of black debauchery aided and abetted by white carpet-baggers from the North and scalawags of the South. They gave a picture of black barbarism bent upon the destruction of Southern white culture. It mattered little to these scientific historians that this culture, even though its harsher features were sometimes softened by the benevolence of the master class, rested in final analysis upon the degradation of human beings.