The following essay is part of The Federalist’s 1620 Project, a symposium exploring the connections and contributions of the early Pilgrim and Puritan settlers in New England to the uniquely American synthesis of faith, family, freedom, and self-government.
In recent years, some prominent voices on the left have contended that America is and has been from its inception a nation established on racism and racial subjugation. This judgment implicitly informs The New York Times’s 1619 Project. According to its introductory blurb, the project “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery … at the very center of our national narrative.”
The American Civil Liberties Union is more direct: “America was founded on white supremacy.” What are we to make of such a disturbing claim?
Before examining its intrinsic merits, we might begin by noting — and rejecting — the improper use that is sometimes made of this interpretation of our country’s character. The assertion that America