Something About the New York Times 1619 Project

What do you think about this? The question referred to the multiple articles comprising the New York Times “1619 Project,” appearing mainly in the August 18th Magazine Section. In the following days, we noticed echos of the series in many other publications such as USA Today, other Gannet Papers, the Washington Post, and The Week magazine. To our mind they all sought to make two major points, Slavery is “Americas Original Sin” so all whites are still sinners and Slavery underpinned our Free Enterprise success. Matthew Desmond’s contribution to 1619 is titled “To Understand the Brutality of American Capitalism, you have to start on the plantation”, while the Week’s Briefing Section on 1619 is titled “America’s original sin.” Reading through the articles, we concluded the Project was a lot of effort to produce a pile of bad history. However, we felt others would see the obvious errors and therefore no reason for us to pile on. We were wrong. What we saw was a lot of people saying the project was right on but maybe we did better later. For instance, one would think Eric Erickson of the Resurgent would be one to take on the NY Times about almost anything. Instead, he agrees right off the bat,” Slavery is America’s Original Sin”. The Headline of Reason Magazine’s rebuttal is “The Founders Were Flawed. The Nation Is Imperfect. The Constitution Is Still a ‘Glorious Liberty Document.” If you confess you’re a sinner and the US was badly flawed from the onset, you’ve already lost the argument. We think America has a much better case. A simple timeline should help set the record straight:

  • 3500 BC 1st record of slavery in Sumer Mesopotamia
  • 73-71 BC Spartacus’s Slave Revolt
  • 650 AD Arab African Slave Trade begins
  • 1501 1st Enslaved African arrived in the New World
  • 1619 1sr slaves sold in Virginia
  • 1651 Hobbes “Leviathan” Published
  • 1689 Locke’s 2nd Treatise on Government” published
  • 1772 The Somerset Case helps launch British Abolitionism
  • 1776 Declaration of Independence
  • 1776 Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” published
  • 1780-4 5 States abolish slavery (AS= Abolishes Slavery or serfdom)
  • 1787 Constitutional Convention
  • 1787 US bans slavery in NW Territory
  • 1791 Bill of Rights ratified
  • 1794 Cotton Gin Patented
  • 1807 UK outlaws International Slave trade
  • 1808 US outlaws International Slave trade
  • 1839 UK AS takes effect
  • 1846 UK Repeals Corn Laws
  • 1848 Austria ,France & Denmark AS
  • 1852 Argentina AS
  • 1853 Peru & Venezuela AS
  • 1860 British Raj Indian indenture System Abolished
  • 1861 Russia AS
  • 1864 Poland AS
  • 1865 US passes 13th Amendment AS
  • 1866 US Indian Territory Tribes AS
  • 1874 Gold Coast AS
  • 1888 Brazil AS
  • 1895 Egypt AS
  • 1896 China AS
  • 1906 French West Africa AS
  • 1922 Morocco AS
  • 1924 Turkey AS
  • 1936 British Bechuanaland (Modern Botswana) AS
  • 1948 Kuwait AS
  • 1962 Saudi Arabia &Yemen AS
  • 1970 Oman AS

The first thing evident from the timeline, slavery is hardly an American original. In fact, slavery had been around for over 5,000 years before the first slave set foot in Virginia. Can you imagine asking for a patent on something in use worldwide for that length of time? Nor as we can plainly see, was it in any way unique to America.

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