Academia and the media have continued to promote the falsehood that America is an endemically racist society, with its unjust roots going back to our founding. We’ve seen this narrative at work through the New York Times’s 1619 Project, as well as petitions from college students that demand their school acknowledge the part they have played in aiding and abetting racism. Kneeling for the National Anthem has also become a common way of indicting the entire country for being ignobly prejudiced.
“…We have these lyrics that talk about ‘land of the free and home of the brave’ but it’s not,” one North Central College student explained when talking about her reasons for kneeling for the Anthem. “America was founded on racism and oppression and people just don’t get that….Why do we value a flag and a song so much, but not the people that make up the flag, not the people that are dying on the streets (who) are not finding justice?”
America may be imperfect, but this is not true. Our history must be understood if we’re to convince anyone they live in a country worth defending and preserving. Rather than correct injustices, this destructive falsehood that America is, at its core, an immoral country, will merely create disunity. The symbols of our country have meaning and if we do not correct the untruths being taught at an academic level, then how can we aspire to have a shared society?
Slavery and the American Founders
Despite the proclamations of liberty found in the Declaration of Independence that were then emboldened in the United States Constitution, the Founders did not abolish slavery when they established this nation. Does this render the government they constructed unjust?
It must be made clear that slavery is a moral evil. Contrary to popular belief, many of the Founders believed this as well.
Benjamin Franklin, alongside Benjamin Rush, founded the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery in 1774. One of the authors of the Federalist Papers, John Jay said on the matter of slavery, “To contend for our own liberty, and to deny that blessing to others, involves an inconsistency not to be excused.”
But they were not the only ones. Throughout the entirety of his life, John Adams abhorred the practice, decrying slavery as a “foul contagion in the human character.” In 1786, George Washington wrote about how he wished to see slavery abolished. When his presidency ended, Washington freed several of his household slaves and, within his will, he decreed that his slaves were to be freed upon his wife’s death. Until 1833, Washington’s estate paid for the care of the elderly and infirm slaves, as well as the education of children until they were 25.
Though he had inherited slaves, in his original draft of the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson condemned the British king for introducing slavery to the colonies and continuing the slave trade. Jefferson attempted to propose legislation to emancipate Virginian slaves, but the bill was defeated. In 1774, Jefferson drafted A Summary View of the British Rights of America, which called for an end to the slave trade.
To gather unified support for the Constitution, the Founders compromised with those who had an interest in maintaining the practice. But the main idea of all men being created equal would severely cripple the institution of slavery, instead of strengthen it. The colonists declaring freedom from British tyranny helped with this erosion. After gaining independence, multiple states would take measures to restrict slavery, or ban it altogether.
America did not always live up to its founding principles, but it certainly is a nation that sought to make it right.
The American Revolution Was Not About Slavery
The 1619 Project alleges that the primary purpose of the American Revolution was the preservation of slavery, but this fails to take into consideration that many states assumed slavery would come to a natural end, and that abolishing the slave trade had soldified the institution’s extinction. This is not to say there were not colonists who supported slavery, but to claim the entirety of the revolution was based on a defense of slavery is innacurate.
Further calling this claim into question is the fact that the first anti-slavery meeting in history took place in Philadelphia in 1775. Also, if the American Revolution was truly about the right to own slaves, then why didn’t the British West Indies join our cause? Their slave system was far larger than that of the 13 colonies.
Corrupting our nation’s history merely divides our country, and it shames those who would defend America’s freedoms.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.