1776 vs. 1619: a symbol of simmering disagreements

Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Billy Davis (OneNewsNow.com)

Black Civil War soldiersA congressman is vowing to speak up for America’s founding, and for our country’s flawed-but-special history, after the new Democratic president killed a scholarly effort to teach about the best of America.

Among the flurry of moves by President Joe Biden in his first week was dissolving the 1776 Commission, a committee formed last fall to promote “patriotic education” in classrooms.

According to news reports, the 18-person commission managed to create a 40-page document that was released by the White House just two days before Joe Biden's inauguration. 

The effort appeared to be the Trump administration’s answer to the 1619 Project, the controversial history project authored by New York Times writer Nicole Hannah-Jones that claims America’s founding should be rolled back to 1619, the year slavery came to America’s shores.

Responding to Biden’s executive order, Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) is introducing legislation that would reinstate the commission. Such an effort has little chance of passage in the Democratic-led House, Budd says, but American voters deserve to know the GOP minority is aware of what is happening in the country and not watching from the sidelines. 

New York Times building“No country is perfect,” he tells One News Now, “but we have taught a generation, unfortunately, all the evils that just aren't true. They've tried to fundamentally transform our country by tearing down and rewriting our history.”

The fight between the 1619 Project and the 1776 Commission easily symbolizes the fractured state of the country. The "patriotic" report was denounced and mocked for its hasty publication, and for criticizing feminism and identity politics, for example, and yet numerous scholars also ripped apart the 1619 project only to watch it win a Pulitzer Prize.

“Scholars are eviscerating The New York Times’ 1619 Project,” happily reads the Jan. 2020 headline from rival New York Post.

Respected historians who study the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and post-war Reconstruction accused Hannah-Jones and the Times of publishing “dangerous tropes” about Reconstruction and an “unbalanced, one-sided account” of slavery in the U.S.

U.S. Constitution“I don’t know of any colonist who said that they wanted independence in order to preserve their slaves,” Brown University historian Gordon Wood, an expert on the Revolutionary War, told the Times in a letter to the editor. “No colonist expressed alarm that the mother country was out to abolish slavery in 1776.”

Yet news articles slamming the 1776 Commission as sloppy, dangerous, and silly praised the 1619 Project as serious and scholarly but failed to note the numerous corrections the Times was forced to publish, seven months later, at the same time U.S. classrooms were using the Project as a trusted resource.   

"In attempting to summarize and streamline, journalists can sometimes lose important context and nuance. I did that here," Hannah-Jones eventually said of her effort to reimagine American history.  

“We want to teach people that this is a great country. This is not a country to be ashamed of,” Rep. Budd says. “We want to codify this commission into law to preserve American history. This is a country we can be proud of.”

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