Cultural Revolution - Part IX
Efforts to rewrite America’s history have taken root in many public schools and colleges. The spurious propaganda of the 1619 Project is now taught as fact in classrooms throughout America. Released in 2019 in a special edition of The New York Times, the 1619 Project claims to be the true story of America’s birth. It recalls the four hundredth anniversary of African slaves arriving on the shores near the Jamestown Colony. The 1619 Project quickly gained acceptance and financial backing. The 1619 Project was released in book form in late 2021.
Winston Churchill once said, “A nation that forgets its past has no future.” But what happens if the past is changed and/or perverted? Churchill also said, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Progressives are determined to destroy not just statues, but historical memories, because they know American history is incompatible with their goals.
The 1619 Project claims the alleged importance of the 1619 date was when a ship arrived at Point Comfort in the British colony of Virginia, bearing a cargo of twenty enslaved Africans.
The 1619 Project introduction reads, “Their arrival inaugurated a barbaric system of chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. This is sometimes referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that: it is the country’s very origin.”1 It further proclaims, “Out of slavery…grew nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional: its economic might, its industrial power, its electoral system.”2
1619 was not the nation’s birth date. Neither was it the beginning of chattel slavery. And it was certainly not the first time African slaves were brought to continental America. Slavery existed in America long before the Europeans traversed across the Atlantic. Slavery was already deeply entrenched in the indigenous peoples, as Columbus discovered.
Slavery was so abundant that the European conquistadors found its evidence wherever they explored in America. War captives and slaves permeated every aspect of indigenous tribal societies.
Modern estimates suggest that 20 to 40 percent of the Native American cultures were enslaved, according to Fernando Santos-Granero, in his book, Vital Enemies.3 African slaves were brought by the Spanish as early as 1526. Several vessels arrived off the Carolina coast with six hundred men and women, including several slaves. Panfilo de Narvaez led another Spanish expedition in 1528 to explore the continental mainland and with him traveled four hundred men, both black and white, among whom was the famed African slave from Morocco, named Estevanico.
In 1565, the Spanish founded the colony of St. Augustine with nearly five hundred African slaves. Furthermore, the African slaves that were brought to Jamestown in 1619 weren’t sold into slavery but were indentured slaves. At the end of their indentured term, the African indentured slaves would be freed just like the white indentured slaves from England. One of the original African slaves brought in 1619, Anthony Johnson, became a substantial landowner once he was freed. He became a tobacco farmer in Maryland. Once released from his indentured service, he became free and had five indentured servants of his own—four white and one black.
John Casor claimed his servanthood expired and was being held illegally by Johnson. A neighbor of Johnson’s, Robert Parker, persuaded Johnson to release Casor. Parker then offered Casor work and had him sign an indenture to him.
Upon learning this, Johnson sued Parker. Initially, the court favored Parker, but Johnson appealed the decision. The court reversed its ruling and found Johnson still owned John Casor. The court ordered Parker to return Casor to Johnson.
This became the first instance of a judicial determination holding that a person who had committed no crime could be held in servitude for life. Casor was declared the first person in a civil case to be a slave, although there were both black and white indentured servants sentenced to lifetime servitude before him.
Misapplying The Past
Six years ago, as part of a broader nationwide effort to rewrite American history, Princeton University students mounted a campaign to remove President Woodrow Wilson’s name from the school because of his racist views and his efforts to prevent the enrollment of black students. Princeton formed a committee to evaluate Wilson’s insensitive past and gave their opinion.
They concluded that both the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Woodrow Wilson College should retain their current names and that the University needs to be honest and forthcoming about its history. This requires transparency in recognizing Wilson’s failings and shortcomings as well as the visions and achievements that led to the naming of the school and the college in the first place.
What the Princeton incident reminds us of, however, is how little that progressives care for progress. Instead, they avoid real progress and fail to recognize the progress the university had made toward diversity, which the school noted in its 2016 report, in rejecting Wilson’s racist policies and championing the enrollment of black students.
Author and former First Lady Michelle Obama was a Princeton graduate. Obviously, she benefitted from Princeton’s progress.
Elihu Yale of Yale University actively participated in trading slaves, including purchasing and shipping slaves to the English colony of St. Helena. Many American universities were filled with this type of slave activity: William Marsh Rice, the Lowell family of Boston, Thomas Jefferson, and Jesuit priests in Maryland all used the profits derived from slave labor to build some of the most prestigious universities in the country.
Will the tearing down of these institutions achieve the goal of progressives? Yes! It enables them to recreate the past and supply support to their agenda.
Slavery is a dreadful part of American history. Despite what progressives say, the abolition of slavery occurred because of, not in spite of, our history and foundation. America is a nation formed with liberty as its chief objective. Individuals who feared God developed a form of government that was on the right path. To this point, there was a unity of voices of Christians who joined the fight in opposition to slavery and prayed for God’s intervention against its evil. By God’s grace and mercy slavery was legislatively abolished after a horrible civil war. Although this did not stamp out racism, it did create a necessary means to develop change and new opportunities for minorities.
Liberals and progressives, in their interpretations of America’s history, view progress as a gradual, complex process that requires skilled political leadership that can navigate messy complexities within a highly partisan political system. The mobilizing for broad popular support is sought with protests from organized advocates of reform. To them, progress invariably involves conflict and must overcome deep-seated prejudices, public apathy, entrenched interests with a vested stake in the status quo. The heroes in their story are the visionaries, reformers and writers who identify societal problems, and the political figures who ultimately translate public outrage into practical policies.
Has America finally reached a turning point in its willingness to serve God and His ways and instead use Marxist principles to decisively address racism, discrimination and gross disparities in income, wealth, health, education, and policing, and extend a sense of belonging and ownership to all Americans, irrespective of their race, gender, ethnicity, immigration status or sexuality?
Do we want social justice or God’s grace and mercy?
1 The 1619 Project. New York Times. August 18, 2019: https://pulitzercenter.org/sites/default/files/full_issue_of_the_1619_project.pdf Accessed March 7, 2022.
3 Santos-Granero, F. Vital Enemies. Austin: UT Press, 2009.