Race, Slavery, 1619, and 1776

The Story:

Last year The New York Times Magazine initiated a re-examination of the history and legacy of African slavery in the United States. This is an interactive series of articles, poems, teaching materials, etc., known collectively as the 1619 Project. (That name comes from the year when the first African slaves were brought to English mainland North America.)

The Critics:

Though the subject is of course one of enormous importance, many scholars have expressed concern that it has been mishandled, because the leaders of the product have zealously sought to make of slavery and slave-trade guilt the central pillar in US history, ignoring facts that are inconvenient in that story.

Politico last week ran an item that will surely give ammunition to the critics. The story, by Leslie M. Harris, is headlined, “I helped fact-check the 1619 Project. The Times ignored me.”

The Thing to Know:

Harris’ article begins with the issue of the causes of the American Revolution. The Project claims that the revolution came about in large part because the slave-holding founders were afraid their slaves would be freed if their masters remained within the Empire.  Harris, professor of history at Northwestern University, says flatly this was not one of the main reasons of that war.

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