Ed introduces the 1619 Project to the discussion, which outlines when America's "true" founding began as it relates to slavery.
Other topics fleshed out during the hour include Critical Race Theory, Covid-19 expenses, Coronavirus infection rates on the Cape and Islands, President Biden's handling of the Covid surge, and the aptitude of Dr. Fauci.
Former Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School History Teacher Jim Coogan's letter in response to the 1619 project
To George Will:
I don’t make a regular practice of responding to punditry that I find in my local paper. But your column, “The historically illiterate 1619 Project keeps rolling on,” moved me to comment. What you have done in this column is add to the hysteria being expressed by conservatives over what is an academic study of racial history, the basis of which has been around for decades. It is not something that is being taught in our public schools and while that claim has been used by some to win elections, it is false. I’m a retired high school history teacher and I still substitute in my school system. The 1619 Project is not part of the curriculum. What I will say is that an historical consciousness about the history of race in America is being taught. And I think it is a good thing.
As a student, my exposure to slavery was it was something that happened in the South and it took the North to end it. I was not made aware that Thomas Jefferson was forced to remove references to slavery in the Declaration of Independence. That all men are created equal did not include black people. The southern colonies would not have endorsed the Declaration otherwise. Similar was the Constitution. To get southern states to agree to it, the 3/5th rule was included. Again, I didn’t hear much about this in my history classes. Like most northerners, I was pretty smug about that history. After all, didn’t we hold the high moral ground on the issue of slavery? We freed the slaves.
What I didn’t know is that the Plymouth Colony legalized chattel slavery in 1649 – just a few years after the Massachusetts Bay Colony did the same. Slaves were common in the North, mostly held by the social and economic elites – even members of the clergy. Certainly it was not on the scale found in the South. But fortunes here were made in the slave trade right through the end of the 18th century. Abolition was very much a minority movement, supported mainly by Quakers, Methodists, and Unitarians. Numerous examples exist to show where anti-slavery meetings in Massachusetts were broken up by rioters who didn’t support emancipation. I would submit that most northern soldiers did not fight to end slavery, but rather to force the rebel states back into the federal union.
So is the 1619 Project exaggerated? One could argue that it is over the top. Most historians, including me, reject the idea that the Revolution was fought to keep slavery. There is a political agenda at work, no doubt. But facing the history of slavery and racism in this country is a positive step. Too often the stark reality of how this country developed in blood and conquest is ignored and the so-called idea of “American Exceptionalism” has been used to justify horrific events. Beginning with Jim Crow laws and policies affecting Native Americans, the list is long. It doesn’t mean that we have to carry a lot of guilt about what happened in our past. That we are a great nation is beyond doubt. But our greatness should be tempered by an acknowledgement that in achieving this greatness, many were hurt in the process. The 1619 Project is there for mature students of history to weigh against the more traditional interpretations that whitewash the truth of what happened. Flawed as it may be, that is a useful thing.