As this great nation celebrates its 245th birthday, it is time to fight back, hard, against the critical race theory and 1619 Project lies claiming that the founding was motivated largely by racism and slavery. Erik H. Neil, director of the Chrysler Museum of Art, poses next to a bust of Thomas Jefferson during a tour of an exhibit titled “Thomas Jefferson, Architect: Palladian Models, Democratic Principles, and the Conflict of Ideals.” At the museum in Norfolk, Va., Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) Steve Helber/AP
Happy birthday to a great and good nation, the USA
Washington Examiner July 04, 12:01 AM July 04, 12:01 AM
As this great nation celebrates its 245th birthday, it is time to fight back, hard, against the critical race theory and 1619 Project lies claiming that the founding was motivated largely by racism and slavery.
When even the National Archives, the repository of the original Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, wastes huge amounts of time and money in a mendacious initiative adopting the 1619 Project’s slander of the founding and of the nation, it is clear that the battle for the truth of our nation’s origins must be joined.
The truth remains, as it was taught in most schools until about two decades ago, that Americans founded a nation expressly on the ideals of liberty and have done more to advance the causes of liberty and human dignity than any country in the history of mankind. And despite the bizarre narrative of the anti-American “progressives” at the New York Times and the academic Left, the founding was not something dreamed up by a small group of wealthy men to protect their privilege, but an “expression of the American mind” that encapsulated the sentiments bubbling up from localities all across what then were 13 North American colonies.
The phrase “expression of the American mind” is Thomas Jefferson’s own, as he himself said that he definitely was not “aiming at originality of principle or sentiment” when he drafted the Declaration. Instead, as was shown by historian Pauline Meier (far from a political conservative, nor an unabashed admirer of the founders), many of the ideas, much of the format, and even plenty of the words and famous phrases themselves were remarkably similar to those in at least 86 other contemporaneous documents. Those documents were “declarations,” or “instructions,” adopted by states, counties, townships, and various quasi-public groups in just three months from April to early July of 1776.
Jefferson’s opening paragraph’s “decent respect to the opinions of mankind” was presaged by Buckingham County, Virginia’s “warm and sincere regard for the interests and rights of mankind.” Jefferson’s closing “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” was previewed in multiple documents by the “lives and fortunes” phrase (with “sacred honor” perhaps being a truly original literary touch by Jefferson). And so on. Notably, the meat of most of those documents, as was also true of the Declaration, consisted of the litanies of abuses that the colonists accused the British government of inflicting on them — with very few touching at all on slavery.
In her book American Scripture, Meier exhaustively detailed these other documents and the actual drafting process of the Declaration, showing how and where John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman helped with the parameters and some of the wordings of Jefferson’s draft and how the full Continental Congress carefully, and (to Jefferson’s annoyance at the time) in some ways substantially, edited his original work.
Famously, Jefferson originally included a more-than-150-word paragraph complaining that king and crown “waged cruel war against human nature itself” by “oppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit” slavery. This paragraph restated arguments that he already had made two years earlier in a tract he wrote that was widely republished in England. As Jefferson wrote, it was rejected by the delegates — not because of widespread disagreement, but “in complaisance to South Carolina and Georgia” to keep them on board. The failure to adopt that paragraph was a cruel bargain with evil, but one that was a bitter pill to most delegates rather than a motive for their independence from Great Britain. As for the Declaration’s three main authors, Adams and Franklin opposed slavery outright, and Jefferson in 1784 drafted the seminal Northwest Ordinance (effected in 1787) that banned the expansion of slavery into new territories then belonging to the new nation.
As Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass both later said, it was the ideals of the founding itself that gave hope and impetus for the ultimate full flowering of what Jefferson envisioned as an “empire of liberty.” Yet, that love of liberty was hardly one man’s dream but the common sentiment throughout the colonies. Again citing Buckingham County’s marvelous document, one whose ideals (if not eloquence) were repeated in so many dozens of others, this was a whole new world desiring to see “a government … established in America [that is] the most free, happy, and permanent, that human wisdom can contrive, and the perfection of man maintain.”
For nearly a quarter of a millennium, this nation has largely lived up to those ideals, sacrificing more for others’ freedom and donating more for others’ aid and safety than any country on Earth.
Imperfect? Yes, as are all human endeavors. Yet, still, highly admirable and immensely worth celebrating. Happy Independence Day!
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