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Which is it? 1619 or 1776?

Bret Stephens, in what may be his last NYT column, tracks the foundational rewriting of the 1619 Project.

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Bret Stephens wrote a column in the Times, titled The 1619 Chronicles. It may be his last. He carefully describes how the 1619 Project has been modified in a foundational way.

The 1619 Project contended that 1619, and not 1776, was the "true founding" or "moment [America] began." This position has been criticized by historians across the spectrum.

Last month, the 1619 Project was quietly edited. The passage originally read:

The 1619 project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country's history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.

The passage now reads:

The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.

The phrase "understanding 1619 as our true founding" was struck out. Without explanation.

Stephens writes:

Those concerns came to light last month when a longstanding critic of the project, Phillip W. Magness, noted in the online magazine Quillette that references to 1619 as the country's "true founding" or "moment [America] began" had disappeared from the digital display copy without explanation.

These were not minor points. The deleted assertions went to the core of the project's most controversial goal, "to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation's birth year."

Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of the 1619 Project, defended the change:

In a tweet, Hannah-Jones responded to Magness and other critics by insisting that "the text of the project" remained "unchanged," while maintaining that the case for making 1619 the country's "true" birth year was "always a metaphoric argument." I emailed her to ask if she could point to any instances before this controversy in which she had acknowledged that her claims about 1619 as "our true founding" had been merely metaphorical. Her answer was that the idea of treating the 1619 date metaphorically should have been so obvious that it went without saying.

She then challenged me to find any instance in which the project stated that "using 1776 as our country's birth date is wrong," that it "should not be taught to schoolchildren," and that the only one "that should be taught" was 1619. "Good luck unearthing any of us arguing that," she added.

Stephens has receipts:

Here is an excerpt from the introductory essay to the project by The New York Times Magazine's editor, Jake Silverstein, as it appeared in print in August 2019 (italics added):

"1619. It is not a year that most Americans know as a notable date in our country's history. Those who do are at most a tiny fraction of those who can tell you that 1776 is the year of our nation's birth. What if, however, we were to tell you that this fact, which is taught in our schools and unanimously celebrated every Fourth of July, is wrong, and that the country's true birth date, the moment that its defining contradictions first came into the world, was in late August of 1619?"

Now compare it to the version of the same text as it now appears online:

"1619 is not a year that most Americans know as a notable date in our country's history. Those who do are at most a tiny fraction of those who can tell you that 1776 is the year of our nation's birth. What if, however, we were to tell you that the moment that the country's defining contradictions first came into the world was in late August of 1619?"

Silverstein tries to defend his work:

In an email, Silverstein told me that the changes to the text were immaterial, in part because it still cited 1776 as our nation's official birth date, and because the project's stated aim remained to put 1619 and its consequences as the true starting point of the American story.

Readers can judge for themselves whether these unacknowledged changes violate the standard obligations of transparency for New York Times journalism. The question of journalistic practices, however, raises deeper doubts about the 1619 Project's core premises.

I suspect it will be Stephens, and not Silverstein, who is subjected to punishment.

Stephens also cites Sean Wilentz, who wrote a thorough book about slavery in the United States:

In a lengthier dissection, published in January in The Atlantic, the Princeton historian Sean Wilentz accused Hannah-Jones of making arguments "built on partial truths and misstatements of the facts." The goal of educating Americans on slavery and its consequences, he added, was so important that it "cannot be forwarded through falsehoods, distortions and significant omissions."

Wilentz's catalog of the project's mistakes is extensive. Hannah-Jones's essay claimed that by 1776 Britain was "deeply conflicted" over its role in slavery. But despite the landmark Somerset v. Stewart court ruling in 1772, which held that slavery was not supported by English common law, it remained deeply embedded in the practices of the British Empire. The essay claimed that, among Londoners, "there were growing calls to abolish the slave trade" by 1776. But the movement to abolish the British slave trade only began about a decade later — inspired, in part, Wilentz notes, by American antislavery agitation that had started in the 1760s and 1770s. The list goes on.

Read the rest of the column.

Randy Barnett and I are working on a book, tentatively titled Slavery and the Constitution: 1776 to 1896. We thought it appropriate to start with the Declaration, and finish with Plessy. Now, we are more confident with our starting date.

NEXT: CDC Wanted to Require Mask-Wearing on "Airplanes, Trains, Buses and Subways, and in Transit Hubs such as Airports, Train Stations and Bus Depots"

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141 responses to “Which is it? 1619 or 1776?

  1. For Blacks and Indians, the United States of America of the late 18th and first 3/5ths of the 20th Century was a totalitarian dictatorship, a Gulag. And the real reason Nikole Hannah Jones pissed a bunch of white people like Sean Wilentz off is because they want the privilege of worshipping the framers, and teaching children to worship them, and that worship is fundamentally racist, because the only way you can do that is to erase Blacks and Indians entirely.

    Now having said that, the Times has not acquitted itself well since publication. They removed true statements from the piece since publication to appease powerful white framer worshippers like Wilentz. They should have told Wilentz that they didn’t care about his racist criticism.

    But that doesn’t mean the project was wrong. The project was right.

    1. What a load of tired, racist, ahistoric bullshit.

      1. See you in November, bigots.

        Then again in January, clingers.

        After that . . . not so much.

        1. Trump has been a better President for Blacks and Hispanics than Lincoln. These groups will deserve the consequences if Biden is President. America, welcome to Chicago, to Baltimore, and to Caracas.

          1. ” Trump has been a better President for Blacks and Hispanics than Lincoln. ”

            And the clingers stand a chance in the culture war.

            1. I quit working at shoprite and now I make $65-85 per/h. How? I’m working online! My work didn’t exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new…YRg after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn’t be happier.

              Here’s what I do…>> Click here

          2. You do realize Trump is the second consecutive president to never hit 3% GDP growth?? The decline in the unemployment rate merely followed the trend that began under Obama.

            1. Hi, Sebastian. Deniers like you do not argue in good faith. Have a blessed day.

              If Biden is elected, I look forward to the punishment of the American people. It will be, welcome to Venezuela, a-holes. Venezuela solved its toilet paper shortage. It has a food shortage.

              1. Thank you for quickly revealing you are a nitwit so I know not to reply to you going forward. Trump failed to hit 3% GDP growth…and he could have had he not engaged in his asinine trade war that has harmed American farmers.

            2. Growth this quarter alone is expected to be 19%. Also black and Hispanic employment and wages hit all time highs under Trump.

              You do realize you are either ignorant or a liar?

              1. You are definitely a moron. Obama had many quarters of over 3% GDP growth…that’s not the standard dum dum.

      1. “I meant 19th, not 20th…”

        Revising your claim to appease the white commenters already, eh?

      2. Your faithfulness to accuracy mirrors the project itself. You statists just can’t help yourself.

        Now cancel yourself like all good social justice warriors, then your mission will be complete.

    2. “For Blacks and Indians, the United States of America of the late 18th and first 3/5ths of the 20th Century was a totalitarian dictatorship, a Gulag.”

      All of history pretty much sucked for everybody, whether you were getting slaughtered by the Mongols or sending your children to be Aztec scarifies. We’re beyond a lot of that now, in no small part due to the actions of the founders. So yes, we should be taught to respect them.

      1. And even today, the US is one of the best parts of the world to be black, as is demonstrated by plenty of foot-voting.

        1. Because black people are moving to the US in vast numbers?

          1. In 2018, there were more than 2 million sub-Saharan African immigrants in the US. The US is the largest non-African destination, and is the number one desired destination for people that say that way to move to.

            I dunno about your country, but in the US, “millions of people” is considered to be vast numbers. Tell me, how many black immigrants are heading to your country?

            1. African immigrants outperformed whites in the 2010 Census. They have generated a new racism. If you see a really dark skinned person, you chase him waving cash as an employer or as an admissions official. Africans are the new Koreans, top performers.

              They come from intact patriarchal families, speak the King’s English, are Christian. And, they love America. They are more likely to register as Republican once they achieve citizenship.

              1. “Africans are the new Koreans, top performers.”

                Yup. The reason we let people from shithole countries come to the US is that people from shithole countries do very well here.

                1. Tell it those who consistently argue that we should limit immigration from those countries because the immigrants will turn the US into their home countries.

                  1. Do you truly find it shocking that people who are carefully selected and filtered through the legal immigration process perform better than those who just happened to be residing in the US at birth?

                  2. The African immigrants are legal immigrants.

      2. “I treated you terribly at the onset, but if turned to your advantage eventually!”

        Is that a good basis for lauding me?

        1. Who’s “I” and “you”? The people that treated each other terribly in history are all dead.

          And in any event, there’s no reason to make it a black/white thing. As I said, people have been treating each other terribly throughout history.

          Loads races and cultures had slavery.

          The Navajo come in and kill the Pueblos. The Spanish come in and kill the Navajo. The US comes in and kills the Spanish, etc. There’s no reason to make it a white/nonwhite thing.

          1. It was officially, legally, a white/nonwhite thing for most of our history.

      3. All of history pretty much sucked for everybody, whether you were getting slaughtered by the Mongols or sending your children to be Aztec scarifies. We’re beyond a lot of that now, in no small part due to the actions of the founders. So yes, we should be taught to respect them.

        The Founders fought off the Mongols and civilized the Aztecs? Interesting.

        Yes, history is full of human misery. That does not excuse those who enslave other people. To quote an obscure Republican politician:

        It is the eternal struggle between these two principles — right and wrong — throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time, and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, ‘You work and toil and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.’ No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.

        1. “The Founders fought off the Mongols and civilized the Aztecs? Interesting.”

          Reading is fundamental. You should learn.

          “Yes, history is full of human misery. That does not excuse those who enslave other people.”

          Those who enslaved other people are dead. They don’t need to be excused.

          1. “They don’t need to be excused.” But we should “respect them”? Make up your mind.

      4. It wasn’t due to the founders. Other countries didn’t have our founders and banned slavery long before we did.

        Our founders set us back.

    3. For Blacks and Indians, the United States of America of the late 18th and first 3/5ths of the 20th Century was a totalitarian dictatorship, a Gulag.

      I’m sorry, but you lose all credibility with this statement. A Gulag from 1789 through 1960; a totalitarian dictatorship? Sorry Dilan, but the word ahistorical does not begin to describe it; mal-historical is more fitting. Supposing it were even true, which it isn’t, why would blacks have fought for the Union Gulag and the Confederacy Gulag in the Civil War…for totalitarian America in WWI….and for totalitarian America in WWII….and for totalitarian America in Korea? C’mon.

      What annoys me is the deliberate misrepresentation of American history in service of a malign agenda.

      1. As someone who finds the Soviet Gulag appalling, you really think the horrors of US slavery comparable?

        1. As someone who finds the Soviet Gulag appalling, you really think the horrors of US slavery comparable?

          For many slaves, it was as physically brutal. Except that slavery was in a warm climate.

      2. Keep in mind paying reparations would be very easy because pretty much every Black American citizen in 1960 was a descendant of an American slave. So in 2021 just give every American ages 30-50 $40k if they had a Black citizen ancestor in 1960–that would be the best $1 trillion we ever spent as a country…much better than the $10 trillion W Bush and Trump flushed down a toilet through sheer incompetence.

        1. Blacks descended from slavery have been significantly diluted over the last 50 years by unbridled immigration.

          1. That’s why you simply go with anyone that had a Black citizen ancestor in 1960 as well as an income limit. So Kamala and Obama don’t qualify because they make too much AND they didn’t have a Black citizen ancestor in 1960.

        2. I do not have an issue with the principle of reparations. You suffer a direct injury, you are compensated for that. For instance, POTUS Reagan paid Japanese internees from WWII. That was appropriate. The reparations were paid directly to the person who suffered the direct injury.

          So….where are the slaves who would receive reparations? The problem is, they are all dead. The time for reparations for slavery passed long ago. The time to pay former slaves reparations was 155 years ago. Personally, I feel that would have been appropriate.

          Now, in the intervening 150+ years since the end of the Civil War, the United States has done much to address the aftermath of slavery, racism, and racial inequality; legally, socially, culturally, financially and politically. Slowly and imperfectly, but undeniably that is the case; this country did address that.

          1. Trump has thrown billions of government money at farmers and coal miners and steel magnates and the Kushner family…descendants of American slaves are just as deserving as those groups of people.

            1. Trump has? You should go tell Ilya.

          2. How much have black people disproportionately received in welfare? Why isn’t that enough?

      3. 1860, XY.

        Dilan made a typographical error, as he admits. We see a lot of complaints here about the lack of an edit or preview function.

        Why is it necessary to pounce on a typo?

    4. ‘For Blacks and Indians, the United States of America of the late 19th and first 3/5ths of the 20th Century was a totalitarian dictatorship, a Gulag,’ evidence shows this to be untrue. If by ‘Indians,’ you mean First Nations, Indigenous Peoples, or American Indians, then say so. The rest of your ‘historical’ claims are simply rhetoric and bias on your part. Your argument about Hannah-Jones intent is similar, based in biases, and I suspect you have no way of knowing what here ‘real reason’ was, so you project your own beliefs.

    5. I remember a Vox writer saying he would have preferred America remain a British colony because England abolished slavery before America. So if England had such a big problem with slavery why were they importing so much cotton from the South?? And why was the South under the impression the British would come to their aid in 1861 when they seceded??

    6. You have a child’s understanding of history. The turning point in Indian history was the plagues which caused the vast majority of whatever deaths occurred long before the US existed. Blaming the US or saying it had any hand in this is like blaming Babe Ruth for the American Revolution. They were also inevitable unless we somehow found a way to delay the Age of Exploration till the development of germ theory. Assigning blame to what basically is a natural disaster again shows a child’s grasp of history.

      As for blacks the only thing that would change had the US never existed would be that they’d have been enslaved and sent to the Middle East or be necklaced in some civil war today instead of participating in a BLM rally.

      1. I have to hand it to you. Both of those paragraphs are complete, unvarnished bullshit. My favorite part is where you suggest that the US government is blameless in their treatment of native tribes, because plagues killed off a lot of them before the US government existed. Love it!

        1. Sure the US government treated the indians badly. But its quite a leap to go from that to ‘lol the US was founded primarily on slavery as its central engine’. You can make a similar but much stronger argument that Stalin founded modern progressivism.

          1. No conquered people have been treated as well as the Indians. Which other received sovereign territories, government aid, and their own governments? No other in human history.

            On the other hand, they tortured people, including other tribal members, took no captives, except for blond little girls as sex slaves, and ate each other.

            1. No conquered people have been treated as well as the Indians. Which other received sovereign territories, government aid, and their own governments? No other in human history.

              That sound you hear is everyone in Germany and Japan laughing.

    7. As demonstrated many times by many people, the project was wrong from start to finish. Individual facts may have some variable percentage of truth to them, but the project uncovered no new facts, did no original research, and was a sham from beginning to end.

    8. Life in the Americas was all peaches and cream before the white man came and enslaved everybody. The natives all lived in peace and harmony, nary a single ornery word was ever spoken, no one ever hurt anybody else, food was plentiful, no carnivoric practices to disturb wild life, grasses were woven into warm cloaks for winter so animals could keep theirs for themselves, and there were no forest fires or earthquakes or tornadoes or hurricanes.

      Then the white man kicked down the door to Eden in a no-knock SWAT raid, and it’s been hell ever since.

    9. GULAG, Glavnoe Upravlenie LAgere, Soviet main directorate of labor camps.

    10. Her basic premise is ridiculous: there is no evidence that the movement for independence was driven by fear of Britain abolishing slavery in the colonies. Also it’s possible to admire the work of the framers without ignoring their moral failings. Calling Wilentz’ criticism as racist is just silly.

  2. It’s all a deliberate lie.
    No slaves to Jamestown in 1619.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Casor

  3. The American Revolution was a major lawyer mistake, a catastrophe for our nation. It caused the Civil War. Taxes went from 1% of GDP to 2%. Lawyer land owners flipped out. Those taxes were to finance wars against Indians to protect the property of these idiots.

    If we had stayed a colony, slavery would have ended in 1833, not in 1863. It would have been enforced by a sheriff, not by the mass slaughter of 800000 Americans (like 4 million today).

    We are sick of lawyer idiocy.

    1. Except England was a huge importer of cotton grown on the South’s plantations. Great Britain abolished slavery because their sugar producing islands were no longer competitive with Cuba and Brazil.

    2. “If we had stayed a colony, slavery would have ended in 1833, not in 1863.”

      Slavery didn’t end in 1863, that was the year of the Emancipation Proclamation, which outlawed slavery only in rebellious states, not all states. It took the 13th Amendment, in December, 1865, to end it generally.

      This should point out the lie that the Civil War was fought to end slavery. If it was, why didn’t Lincoln Issue an Emancipation Proclamation at the outset, that freed all slaves?

      1. Yes, and why was the Emancipation Proclamation itself actually a contingent offer to the South to keep slavery, if only they would give up on the idea of independence and submit to the federal taxes that Lincoln was actually focused on? And why did Lincoln make this offer not once, but three times? And why on Earth did the South reject it?

  4. The United States is as unimaginable without 250 years of slavery as it would be had the colonists been subjects of the Tsar rather than the King of England. It’s like trying to imagine how different someone would be with half their DNA replaced. It can’t be done.

    What would the balance of power between the 13 colonies have been without slavery? Certainly not what it was, with Virginia (and Virginians) playing so dominant a role. Would the Revolution even have happened – much less been won by the colonists – without the wealth accrued by slaveowners? Would there have been large-scale agriculture in the South without slavery? (Southerners didn’t think so.) Would the Deep South even been settled without slave labor? Certainly not the way it was. How would the North have developed without the textile industry? How would other industries have developed without the massive export profits derived from cotton? Would the US have been wealthy enough to survive the War of 1812?

    That’s why 1619 is a more foundational date than is 1776. Without 1776, America would probably have ended up like Australia or Canada or other parts of the British Empire settled by English-speaking people steeped in the English common law tradition but without slavery. Without 1619 and slavery, though – what? Certainly not the country we see today only with fewer black people.

    1. The is an over simplistic take on history. And while alternative history might be “fun” to write, it is impossible to predict what might have happened. And to most practical considerations, it doesn’t even matter. The world we live in now is what we have to deal with, not the imagined world of some academic.

      1. The argument is about history; not about the world we live in, which is as unlike 1776 as it is 1619.

    2. This ignores the many people who made it without slaves for labor -they did what the rest of the nation would have done were there no chattel slavery. Worked harder. Your argument that the nation is ‘unimaginable’ implies that you cannot imagine it, not that it would not occur. Chattel slavery, for all your in-group’s insistence, is not in this country’s ‘DNA.’ It is in our past, but it is the lens through which all things are seen for only those who cannot consider nuance.

      1. Most of the Western states never had slavery and the West was “conquered” by free men (those being some Black and Asian as well) which is a huge portion of the United States. Again, “inconvenient” for the race baiting left.

      2. Large-scale agriculture in the South (ie cotton) would have been unprofitable at a minimum and perhaps impossible without cheap forced labor.

        1. A lot of people bandy this about as though it is true. But ignore the fact that keeping slaves was far from cheap. Some economists that have dared study the cost of maintaining a slave as opposed to having an employee compensated at a market rate at the same time shows the employee model (which the Northern economies were largely based off of and more vibrant as a result) was far cheaper.

          Liberal Myth/Lie #4982: Slavery was a cheap source of labor that whites exploited.

          1. A lot of people bandy this about as though it is true. But ignore the fact that keeping slaves was far from cheap. Some economists that have dared study the cost of maintaining a slave as opposed to having an employee compensated at a market rate at the same time shows the employee model (which the Northern economies were largely based off of and more vibrant as a result) was far cheaper.

            Which of courser is why slave owners were just fine not being able to expand into the western territories, right? You do know that the Civil War was fought over the expansion of slavery, right?

            Southerners believed that slavery was essential to their economic model. They were likely right. Slavery only thrived in a plantation system. Slaves were imported into the Americas by Europeans as a plantation labor force – because no free people would work in such conditions as slaves endured on the Caribbean sugar plantations.

            Of course slaves were not “free labor.” But both North and South believed that slave labor was cheaper. That’s why the North was threatened by the expansion of slavery into the territories. That’s why the South wanted it.

            1. Yeah…no….

              There is something to be said about being locked into an economic model and a slave driven workforce definitely was that. Doesn’t mean it was an efficient workforce by any means. “Change management” is hard especially when it comes to transforming economic systems. Just because one type of workforce management system persisted does not mean it was the only viable one or that it was even efficient. All that it means is that it kept the ledger balanced and sustained the people it needed to sustain. There is a lot of economic info that suggests that the South was really poor because of the inefficient system it kept perpetuating.

          2. the employee model (which the Northern economies were largely based off of and more vibrant as a result) was far cheaper.

            That’s idiotic. If having employees would have been cheaper why didn’t the planters free the slaves and just hire them

            1. They were just keeping the slaves to own the abolitionists.

            2. It is more accurate to say that the employee model was more productive, but the capitalist cannot extract as much of the excess value created by production as the slave owner.

              Thus society and the workers are better off under capitalism, while those in charge are better off under command economies like slavery, feudalism, and communism.

    3. Slavery was a huge mistake for everybody. Its disgusting that you progs keep praising it. It held back progress for short term gain then cost us untold blood, sweat, and treasure in the end. We probably would be flying UFOs across Alpha Centauri without all the nonsense associated with it.

      1. Is someone praising it? I sure wasn’t.

        1. If you say its responsible for this country and all the good things and creature comforts we have now which is the central argument of people behind 1619. You are basically mirroring stormfront arguments.

          1. If you say its responsible for this country and all the good things and creature comforts we have now which is the central argument of people behind 1619. You are basically mirroring stormfront arguments.

            I’m doing no such thing. It’s impossible to know how the British colonies in North America would have developed without slavery. But it would have been very, very different than what actually happened. That’s why the introduction of slavery into those colonies – by the British Crown and its government, by the way – was so foundational to its future history.

            Personally, I think if we had developed like Canada or New Zealand – neither of which had plantation slavery – that would have been a substantial improvement over what actually did happen.

            1. You are using a truism then baiting and switching to the implication of the 1619 project and Stormfront that slavery was overall beneficial and we owe modern America to slavery. Of course things would be different if there had been no slavery. Things would have been different if George Washington had an attack helicopter but it has no bearing on the issue at hand.

    4. Dude, you’re just wrapping a bunch of high-sounding words around the butterfly effect. Stuff in the present wouldn’t be the way it is save stuff in the past. You can chase that back as far in time as you choose. The choice to go back to — and stop at — 1619 was politically driven. Full stop.

      1. Dude, you’re just wrapping a bunch of high-sounding words around the butterfly effect. Stuff in the present wouldn’t be the way it is save stuff in the past. You can chase that back as far in time as you choose. The choice to go back to — and stop at — 1619 was politically driven. Full stop.

        And the choice to stop at 1776 isn’t?

        There’s the butterfly effect, and then there’s the elephant effect.

        1. And the choice to stop at 1776 isn’t?

          That’s the difference between describing the time that something actually happened, and trying to divine the time that other stuff happened that supposedly caused/allowed the thing that happened to happen.

          That doesn’t seem very difficult.

  5. Randy Barnett and I are working on a book, tentatively titled Slavery and the Constitution: 1776 to 1896

    For or against?

    1. For right-wingers, against liberals, noncommittal on slavery (Blacks’ liberty interests vs. slaveholders’ liberty interests ‘a tough call’).

      1. Overt and covert racists would ask ‘for or against.’ Or make this into a but ‘right-wingers’ X argument.

    2. “For or against?”

      Very fine people on both sides.

      1. The only fine people were the lefties, right? That’s your assertion? Not possible for any other, more realistic, interpretation. TDS is totes not real.

    3. You will have to buy the book to find out – – – – – – – –

  6. There are many many stupid things about the 1619 propaganda project, but probably the foremost is that the colonies that later became America didn’t even fully develop their identities until the mid 1700’s. Some were not even colonies of Britain at the time both indentured servants (who were usually white and treated as poorly as slaves) and slaves were being used as labor in the colonies.

    Other then the fact it includes cherry picked facts, inflated for political purposes, it is simply impossible to say that slavery was an “American” problem on that date because America was 150+ years away from even existing in the minds of some colonists.

    Also if you want to have a real conversation about slavery, perhaps you should also loop in the Africans who sold enemy tribes to Muslim slave traders that later sold a small subset of those slaves to Europeans. That is a pretty big gap in the whole history of the African slave trade.

    1. What was going on in America wasn’t even really “slavery”…it was more white supremacy with a permanent underclass based on skin color. So once cities pop up a white indentured servant can simply run away to a city and disappear…but people with black skin weren’t able to do that because a white person could simply say they are a slave and the authorities would take the white person’s side. Btw, the reason England abolished slavery around 1800 was because people were moving to the cities and whites needed jobs…so English whites would have revolted had slaves been brought into the country to work.

      1. There are stories of indentured servants escaping, but there are also many of ones being caught trying to hide out in those cities and then being treated exceptionally cruelly when returned. These are not “convenient” pieces of history though if the lens you are trying to view everything through is only taking a look at the thin aspect of African American slavery.

        1. In 1800 only 5% of the population lived in urban areas but Americans knew the big cities would get bigger even as America expanded west.

    2. Also if you want to have a real conversation about slavery, perhaps you should also loop in the Africans who sold enemy tribes to Muslim slave traders that later sold a small subset of those slaves to Europeans. That is a pretty big gap in the whole history of the African slave trade.

      No trade in slaves without eager European buyers.

      1. Yeah that is really putting the cart before the horse. The supply existed well before Europeans tapped into it. But yeah continue ignoring the role Muslim slave traders and Asian demand for African slaves had on the whole African slave trade….

  7. Why do you think the Times will sack Stephens? They gave him this gig after he wrote columns denying climate change.

    1. He will go the way of Bari Weiss.

      1. Quit in a huff — as part of a lifelong pattern — consequent to being a disaffected, disingenuous malcontent?

  8. Actual mass human slavery=not that bad, why harp on it?
    Having to wear masks in some areas to fight a respiratory pandemic=the worst, the real slavery amirite?

  9. Well, it’s good they dropped the bunk from the intro.

    1776 makes sense for a book about slavery and the Constitution. If the book were about the history of slavery in the Americas, 1619 makes a better starting point.

    There’s a lot of revisionism in the 1619 Project, but much of what they’re revising hasn’t been accurate, either.

    1. If you want to start a history of slavery in the colonies you would need to start back WAY BEFORE 1619. It would really start with the history of the Ottoman empire establishing the African slave trade and its persistence through the East. Europeans didn’t adopt African slave practices under centuries after many other civilizations did.

    2. Slavery started in the Americas only in 1619? *puts hands in head* Uh…..You do know that slavery was widespread among the Indians right? Some of the earliest European explorers were actually enslaved.

      What a fine education system we have nowadays.

      1. And Muslims practiced some of the more cruel forms of slavery (like killing slaves who were no longer productive), but won’t find any of that in a history book these days.

        1. Buh Muslims…Buh Hunter Biden

  10. @ Jimmy Dane. The difference between Westerners and everybody else when it comes to slavery is that Westerners ended it earlier and forced everybody else to as well.

  11. Slavery was great! We wouldn’t have all the wonderful things we do now if it wasn’t for slavery!-New Leftist mantra 2020

  12. Also people ignore that we have a new class of indentured servants. People bound with debt that is largely unmanageable which is creating a new permanent underclass. And this isn’t “evil corporations” doing the deed but most left wing indoctrination centers (colleges) that provide absolutely no services of value in exchange for large sums of money. But by all means lets harp on slavery from 400 years ago and not this problem.

    1. There are also the undocumented workers.

  13. The 1619 project has never been anything but an attempt to gaslight the American people by falsifying the parts of history which give the lie to Critical Race Theory. Its authors and supporters need to be dismissed as liars along with the rest of CRT.

    1. In a more sane time we would have just branded them traitors and tried them as such.

      1. Yeah, that’s very sane if you’re a fascist.

        1. Or just someone who cares about truth and cares about the subversion of the state. But, to each their own…

          1. Jimmy, principled non-fascist commitment is to the Constitution, not the state. (As for the “truth” part, put that aside for now because lol.)

            1. I think you are ignoring that leftist propaganda such as 1619 is designed to subvert our Constitutional Republic in a not so subtle fashion. If you had any commitment to the Constitution you would recognize the true enemies of it and the weapons they use.

              1. Your conception of what 1619 is designed to do is delusional, Jimmy, but let’s let that slide for now. 1619 is constitutionally protected speech. Advocating criminal prosecution for exercising a constitutionally protected right is legit fascism.

                1. How is my take on the 1619 propaganda project delusional? Seems like it is pretty accurate given what the project itself is publishing.

                  Also I don’t think you understand fascism either.

                  1. In a more sane time we would have just branded them traitors and tried them as such.

          2. You don’t sound very secure about your “truth” at all.

  14. The 1619 Project was not very well done historical analysis, as pointed out by many more people than just Sean Wilentz. But the statement that 1619 is more significant than 1776 is a value judgment, an opinion that isn’t really right or wrong, just their opinion. A rhetorical way to emphasize the centrality of slavery to the foundation of this country. Kind of a stupid thing to argue about. Like debating whether July 4 1776 is really the right day to memorialize as the birthdate of the country.

    1. Damn. Serves me right for taking a bathroom break before hitting “post.”

  15. What a dumb argument. There isn’t one right answer. It’s like asking, “Is Donald Trump the most shamelessly dishonest president, the most stubbornly ignorant, or the cruelest?” Those aren’t mutually exclusive. They’re all correct.

    Anyone who can’t understand why a relatively recent descendant of 400 yrs of slavery and apartheid could honestly and legitimately view the beginning of that thing as the true founding of the system they were born into… well… let’s just say they have issues. But that doesn’t mean, viewed through a different lens, 1776 isn’t also legitimate. It isn’t a question of historical accuracy. It’s a purely subjective matter of what resonates more with your lived experience and values.

    The 1619 people who removed the implication that there’s one right answer have apparently conceded this point. Why are Bret Stephens and Josh Blackman so hot to keep the fight going?

    1. Something has to keeping Blackman blogging several times a day…

    2. “Why are Bret Stephens and Josh Blackman so hot to keep the fight going?”

      The answer is found in the tale of the frog and the scorpion.

    3. So black people cannot be patriotic or love the country and see it as their own? Their entire view of the country is supposed to be defined by slavery?

      That is going to come as a hell of a surprise to the black people I know who serve in the military. Like all liberals you have no idea how racist and patronizing racist and ultimately dehumanizing your thinking is. For people like you benevolent white supremacy is just the air you breath.

      1. So black people cannot be patriotic or love the country and see it as their own?

        That’s a lot of willful mischaracterization and question begging for so few words.

        That is going to come as a hell of a surprise to the black people I know who serve in the military.

        I doubt it. I’ll bet their reading comprehension is a lot better than yours.

        Like all liberals you have no idea how racist and patronizing racist and ultimately dehumanizing your thinking is.

        Get over yourself, you tribal goon. Then get back to me when you learn how to read.

        1. That is exactly what your points assumed and implied. You don’t like it because the truth hurts. And for you after making such appalling racist generalizations to call anyone a tribal goon is projection at its most obvious

          Thanks for letting me know I hit the target. Your misery and anger are both lovely to hear and perhaps a start towards you becoming a better person.

          1. My misery and anger? Lol.

  16. Smells very jewish.

    1. Butthurt Ukraninan Nazi?

  17. American without slavery is like the Bible without original sin. It drives the whole story.

  18. America without slavery is like the Bible without original sin. It drives the whole story.

    1. America didn’t invent racism…we just perfected it. 😉

      1. If you want to see actual racism, go to any other country in the world. It is pretty stark by comparison.

        1. It’s the argument of someone that has never left the white-majority First World nations of North America and Western Europe.

  19. Which is it? 1619 or 1776?

    Judging from the arguments offered, it’s 1984.

  20. 1619 introduced a new and major change in the Anglo-American legal system. 1776 did not.

    1. Ok, I call BS. Name the specific new and major change in the legal system.

      1. The claim is that this is the year slaves started to be legally sold. That was new in the Americas.

        I’ll stick with 1776, but this pushback is pretty knee-jerk. Pointing elsewhere, leaning on American exceptionalism…

        Soon it’ll be GOP dogma that blacks should be grateful for slavery for bringing them to the USA.

      2. Go into old Westlaw digests and you will see the key number topic “Slaves”. Reading through the key notes is a jarring experience. The disputes over sale price, who gets what in a past will, who gets possession of babies (or maybe “puppies in the litter”), the owner’s liability for injuries caused — it reminds one of the body of law on domesticated animals, and one gets no sense that these are actual people that they’re talking about. They might as well be horses.

        By contrast, the revolutionaries of 1776 merely wanted restored the rights that they had enjoyed as Englishmen. It was mostly a matter of changing the people in charge, and conceptually a smooth transition.

        1. I will do that = Go into old Westlaw digests and you will see the key number topic “Slaves”. Reading through the key notes is a jarring experience. – no joke…I will absolutely do that. I’ve been meaning to do some research into that time period (1600-1650). A lot of things happened in that time period that transformed social mores.

          But aren’t the laws/ruling you reference merely a reflection of what they brought from England? When you say ‘new and major’ – I think something completely novel and existential. Relying on legal precedent from England does not fit the bill – to me. There were already slavery laws on the books.

          1. I don’t think England had a law of slavery. It might have had laws as to poverty, and indentured servants, but not even they were treated like cattle, for purposes not only of bestial labor but also breeding, purchase and sale, and bequests in wills, across generations.

            My search into Westlaw took place in law school (1989, prompted by the knowledge that my then girlfriend was the great granddaughter of a slave) so it might not be readily accessible now but I’m sure it’s findable somewhere.

  21. You don’t get to be outraged over Bret Stephens departing the New York Times unless Bret Stephens actually departs the New York Times. Not getting outraged over things that didn’t happen is kind of the point of the criticism of the 1619 Project.

  22. I would point out that many forms of forced service existed in many places, including Great Btitian where people became legaly obligated for life. The Spanish had peonage, similar in some respects to serfdom, and in others to sharecroppeing. In parts of the counrty it was common for enterprises to develop company towns arround a resource and control the ostensibly free population by manipulating their “employees”, see Tennesee Ernie Ford’s song, 16 Tons.

  23. It’s hard to truly get behind libertarianism after reading the dumpster-fire comments section here. A central authority enforcing basic rules would go a long way to making this a more useful discussion.

  24. Single Mom With 4 Kids Lost Her Job but..READ MORE