When and where was America founded? Was it in Virginia in 1619, when a pirate ship landed a group of captive Africans at Jamestown? So asserted the New York Times in August 2019 when it announced its 1619 Project. The Times set out to transform history by tracing American institutions, culture, and prosperity to that pirate ship and the exploitation of African Americans that followed. A controversy erupted, but the Times didn't back down. Instead, the authors ballooned their original magazine supplement into a 600-page book. Peter Wood offers a point-by-point response to the 1619 Project in this volume. He argues that the proper starting point for the American story is 1620, with the signing of the Mayflower Compact aboard ship before the Pilgrims set foot in the wilderness of the New World. The quintessential American ideas of self-government and ordered liberty grew from the deliberate actions of those Mayflower immigrants. In this new edition of 1620, Woodbrings the story up to date, including the glittering prizes for 1619 pseudohistory, the deepening disputes, and the roles played by Presidents Trump and Biden.Much of the controversy involves education. Schools across the country raced to adopt the Times' radical revision of history as part of their curricula. Parents in many districts have rebelled. Should children be taught that America is a 400-year-old system of racist oppression? No, says Wood, our nation's future depends on our children learning a true history centered on what has always made America exceptional: our pursuit of liberty and justice for all.
About the Author
Peter W. Wood is the president of the National Association of Scholars. A former professor of anthropology and college provost, he is the author of several books about American culture, including Diversity: The Invention of a Concept (2003) and Wrath: America Enraged (2021). He is the editor in chief of the journal Academic Questions and a widely published essayist. In 2019 he received the Jeane Kirkpatrick Prize for contributions to academic freedom.