The commission of 1776 clearly stalled in conception and execution, but the basic requirement of a government commission for our founding history has a long precedent. The federal government has created many of these since the 19th century Commissionsespecially in relation to the American Revolution and the founding period. They have broadened the focus of American history, strengthened national unity, and even promoted concepts of freedom internationally. For example, in 1924 President Calvin Coolidge signed the George Washington Bicentennial Celebration Commission, established six years before the event, trying to: “ensure intellectual rigorThrough the involvement of historians and the American Historical Association. It resulted in public commemorations around the world, presentations by historians in the capital, and the publication of an edited collection of Washington’s letters. It took place during the Great Depression and woke them upwhole country“Despite economic hardship,” said Commission Director Sol Bloom, “and it has done more to maintain national health in these troubled times than anything else could have done,” the Muncie reported Post democrat.
In 1973, Congress created the Bicentenary Government of the American Revolution, which was an opportunity to revisit American history. As President Gerald Ford said 1976: “We Americans should stop and think about what our country means to us – and what it means to the world.” Following the resignation of Watergate and Richard Nixon (some previously accused Nixon of politicizing the commemoration), the bicentenary spurred on, which included public events and academic components unit and Inclusivity Almost the entire population was involved in some way, coupled with a significant expansion of various public historical sites.
Celebrations of history were also used to sow the seeds of division. In 1876 during the centenary During the American Revolution in and around Boston, patriotic descendants excluded African Americans, Irish Americans, and female suffragists from positions of social importance and political power. The heirs of the patriots called those without “common blood” un-American, while the minorities called their accusers “unworthy descendants”[s]. “This was a struggle between a literal and a symbolic legacy of the American Revolution – could its ideals be extended to all? This led to years of bitter social and political feuds over, for example, which monuments were erected, whether certain types of protests were acceptable, and which political candidates adequately represented the beliefs of the founders and current citizens. (Does this sound familiar to you?) Certain revolutionary events, such as the Battle of Bunker Hill, were known by the Bostonians as “a glorious act of the patriots, ” while the Boston massacre, in which the mixed race Crispus Attucks was the first American killed, was remembered as a “lowly and nefarious mob”.
The United States is currently experiencing a “Decline of historical thought,” as the New Yorker called it. This can be seen in the confrontation with the word “patriot” in relation to those who got upset at the Capitol, in the overwhelming push towards STEM in education (accompanied by the seemingly daily closings of university history departments) and in state representatives Illinois, LaShawn K. Ford’s call for the abolition from teaching history in Illinois schools to “instead paying more attention to citizenship,” which confusingly, cannot be effectively taught without history. Similarly, there has been an unfortunate anti-founder movement recently. When history makes the news, it has often been politicized. The 1776 commission was an example, with its anachronistic references to the “pro-life movement” and comparing American progressives with Mussolini. But the New York Times The “1619 Project” was also problematic – although it was journalism, not a government report. The project claims The “The founding ideals of our democracy were wrong when they were written“Based on the questionably supported and slightly controversial original claim” that the colonists declared their independence from Great Britain … to protect the institution of slavery in the colonies “(although the Times“Later made a “Clarification” and other Changes). Princeton historian Sean Wilentz, recently a critic of both projects written down this connection: “[The 1776 Commission report is] The flip side of this polemic, presented as history and which the nation accuses, was established as a Slavocracy. … It is basically a political document, not a story. ”
Neither project contains articles by early American historians (although “1619” had fact-checkers and advisers like Leslie M. Harris – whose advice was “ignored”). Both offer big, bold claims that leave out conflicting evidence and often ignore the broader historical record. (For example, each omits essential references to American Indians, loyalty, or colonial history beyond the British 13.) Both of them also want to shape the future of American education.
Despite this criticism, the “Report of 1776” and the “Project of 1619” each have valuable elements. You cannot accurately tell the story of America without slavery and racism, nor can you do it without the founders’ understanding and promise of freedom. An inherent contradiction? Yes. But can both be avoided? Is the declaration of independence flawed? Yes, but its evolution, content, and impact are still important for every American to know. Hence, the conclusions of the “Report of 1776” that “our Declaration is worth preserving and our Constitution is worth defending” provide a legitimate and productive starting point for discussion. “Our story has been a constant battle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear and demonization have long torn us apart,” Biden said on Wednesday. To understand and grapple with American history, the nation must consider these legacies and many more.
This is where a new historical commission – hopefully with support from both parties – can come into play. The aim of this new commission, which will be set up when our nation begins preparations for its 250th birthday on July 4th, 2026, should be to produce a report It sets out important foundation topics with additional suggestions for discussion questions and primary sources that offer different perspectives. It must be suitable for a general reader and adaption to the classroom. It should The aim is objectivity and should help establish basic facts. It should also try to update and expand the narrative of our country and correct mistakes (especially in widely available textbooks).
The commission should include historians and scholars of mixed opinions, K-12 teachers, and museum staff from places like George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the National Park Service. And it should include students of different perspectives, races, genders, and ages. It is important for educators to find out the stories that students actually want to learn in order to inspire and inform future generations.
A national discussion will not and should not take place overnight and should not take place in isolation. But it should be done – for national unity and to produce informed citizens who can protect themselves from misinformation, regardless of whether they come from within the country or from a foreign enemy.
Whether or not a new commission is convened, the politicization of history is going nowhere. Partisan struggles over the meaning and history of the American Revolution have existed from the start; Even the founders themselves were not a unified voice. However, they agreed that American ideals were important and worthy of public discourse. And we can make sure the nation is getting the facts right if we continue this discussion today. By trying to find common ground in our past, we may develop a shared appreciation for what we can still achieve.