With the exception of Wilentz, all of these American historians criticized the 1619 Project at the World… Nor did it generate a movement inside Britain in opposition to either slavery or the slave trade. Wilentz, a Princeton professor, previously signed a letter alongside four other historians urging the NYT to issue corrections to parts of the project. One of the false assertions, according to Wilentz, is that Hannah-Jones suggested “by 1776, Britain had grown deeply conflicted over its role in the barbaric institution that had reshaped the Western Hemisphere.” He wrote that, in fact, “Britain was hardly conflicted at all in 1776 over its involvement in the slave system,” providing key historical details to back up his argument. Although the project is not a conventional work of history and But the Americans who attempted to end the trade did not believe that they were committing economic suicide. What we _don’t_ do is tell someone else that their interpretation contains “serious inaccuracies” just because they don’t arrange the evidence in the same way we might. Sean Wilentz: A Matter of Facts - The Atlantic 3/6/20, 1140 AM https: ... Our letter applauded the project’s stated aim to raise public awareness and understanding of slavery’s central importance in our history. Historian Sean Wilentz dissected key details in the NYT’s “1619 Project” that he said taint the project. The colonials’ motives were not always humanitarian: Virginia, for example, had more enslaved black people than it needed to sustain its economy and saw the further importation of Africans as a threat to social order. ... Major Problems in the Early Republic Plus Text Letter by. The Five Historians’ Letter, and the New York Times Response – On December 20, 2019, the Times published a short letter critiquing the project by historians Victoria Bynum, James McPherson, James Oakes, Gordon Wood, and Sean Wilentz. “This would have upended the economy of the colonies, in both the North and the South,” Hannah-Jones wrote. Next, Wilentz moves on the Hannah-Jones’ claims about Lincoln. Reviewed: No Property in Man: Slavery and Antislavery at the Nation’s Founding. After meeting with Lincoln at the White House, Sojourner Truth, the black abolitionist, said that he “showed as much respect and kindness to the coloured persons present as to the white,” and that she “never was treated by any one with more kindness and cordiality” than “by that great and good man.”, Wilentz writes, “particularly with regard to the ideas and actions of Abraham Lincoln, Hannah-Jones’s argument is built on partial truths and misstatements of the facts, which combine to impart a fundamentally misleading impression.”. Twenty-one years later, Wilentz has penned another statement, which offers a very different message on impeaching a president. The historian’s article in The Atlantic followed Silverstein’s letter and pointed out key details that taint the “1619 Project.” Titled “A Matter Of Facts,” it delved into exactly how, in his view, the project is failing the American people and the country’s history. In a formal public letter, NYT’s editor in chief Jake Silverstein responded December 20. It included Sean Wilentz and Gordon Wood, eminent historians respectively at Princeton and Brown, who are not conservative, and who joined three other renowned historians in firing off a letter to the New York Times requesting that it correct its many factual errors, starting with the falsehood that the colonists had waged war to protect slavery from Britain. — Brent Staples (@BrentNYT) January 7, 2020. Guyatt seems to admit that Hannah-Jones hasn’t really substantiated it’s claim, it’s just that he believes it could do so given time and space. (See also Katherine Paugh’s fascinating work on the Mary Hylas case for a sense of how parallel legal decisions regarding gender and marriage freaked out planters in the colonies.) Or “lose the House and the Senate overwhelmingly in 2022.”, “Right here is dangerous. During that time, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Rhode Island either outlawed the trade or imposed prohibitive duties on it. But the movement in London to abolish the slave trade formed only in 1787, largely inspired, as Brown demonstrates in great detail, by American antislavery opinion that had arisen in the 1760s and ’70s. In fact, he argues convincingly that British efforts to stop the international slave were inspired by prior colonial efforts: “By 1776, Britain had grown deeply conflicted over its role in the barbaric institution that had reshaped the Western Hemisphere,” Hannah-Jones wrote. It’s one thing to say ‘there might be an alternative way to look at this which has validity.’ It’s something else to state in America’s leading newspaper “one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.” That does sound like a claim about undeniable facts rather than a point open to vigorous debate. I hope to have something to share on this before too long, and would love to hear from others working in this area. We can debate and respectfully disagree about this stuff — that’s what historians do. There were no “growing calls” in London to abolish the trade as early as 1776. Harvard University Press, 350 pp., $26.95. Five prominent historians penned a letter to the Times in December 2019, ... One was Sean Wilentz, ... Sean Collins is a writer based in New York. The article Wilentz wrote, published in The Atlantic Wednesday, follows up a letter written to the NYT urging it to correct various errors. Lincoln asserted on many occasions, most notably during his famous debates with the racist Stephen A. Douglas in 1858, that the Declaration of Independence’s famous precept that “all men are created equal” was a human universal that applied to black people as well as white people. Sean Wilentz’s most popular book is The Conscience of a Conservative. https://www.theatlantic.com/.../1619-project-new-york-times-wilentz/605152 Save this story for later. American democracy is in a perilous condition, and the Times can report on that danger only by upholding its standards “without fear or favor.” That is why it is so important that lapses such as those pointed out in our letter receive attention and timely correction. For newlyweds Caroline Cleaves and Sean Wilentz, there is a lot of common ground. Sharp played a key role in securing the 1772 Somerset v. Stewart ruling, which declared that chattel slavery was not recognized in English common law. “In the interest of historical accuracy, it is worth examining his denials and new claims in detail,” Wilentz began in Wednesday’s article. Sean Wilentz’s ‘No Property in Man: Slavery and Antislavery at the Nation’s Founding’ June 6, 2019 issue. Nor was Lincoln, who had close relations with the free black people of Springfield, Illinois, and represented a number of them as clients, known to treat black people as inferior. Why does a U.S. congressman side with Communist China? Beyond Granville Sharp, he thinks there wasn’t much antislavery sentiment in GB before _American_ abolitionists got going in the 1780s. There’s much more to this section dealing with the Times’ response to this criticism, all of which is worth a look. Some of you will remember Sean Wilentz's letter to The New York Times criticizing the newspaper's 1619 Project. All this has occurred even as practicing historians expressed skepticism about the relative historical value of the Project. organized the drafting and signing of the letter, together with Arthur Schlesinger jr (City Univ. “That is a striking claim built on three false assertions.”. One side of this ongoing argument (the critics) are trying to talk about a handful of specific facts while the other side (the NY Times) is trying to spin a grand narrative. pic.twitter.com/vXyPkc6J1K, It’s impossible to say how many enslaved people already knew about Somerset; based on the work of Julius Scott & esp. Plus, he's a darned… He led 2,100 historians in signing a letter regarding President Trump’s impeachment, and has written op-eds and articles for The Atlantic and The New Republic as well as The New York Review of Books. “In London, there were growing calls to abolish the slave trade,” Hannah-Jones continued. Sean Wilentz is the George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History at Princeton. The letter is signed by Wilentz, Victoria Bynum, James McPherson, James Oakes, and Gordon Wood. When describing history, more is at stake than the past. That ruling did little, however, to reverse Britain’s devotion to human bondage, which lay almost entirely in its colonial slavery and its heavy involvement in the Atlantic slave trade. The idea has company: Over 850 legal scholars signed a letter earlier this month arguing that the president had engaged in “impeachable conduct.” Sean Wilentz. Princeton’s Sean Wilentz is one of five historians who sent a letter to the NY Times last month requesting that the paper address factual errors in the 1619 Project. The five signatories assert their “strong reservations about important aspects of … John SextonPosted at 1:01 pm on January 22, 2020. Isn't some equally detailed response to his points needed at some point? Graham Hodges (below), we can conclude that Black maritime networks had already seeded the idea among African Americans that Britain was a liberating force. Mostly peaceful protest in Olympia, Wash., turns less peaceful as protesters mix it up with Antifa (video), McConaughey, Russell Brand Sound Off on the Left's Elitist Attitude Toward Trump Voters. “…I’ve actually had a physically difficult working-class job”, Atlanta news station debunks “smoking gun” voter-fraud video, Twitter spat between Marco Rubio, AOC and Sarah Palin over hard work, Socialist Seattle City Councilmember’s recall appeal heads to Washington Supreme Court. Assertions that a primary reason the Revolution was fought was to protect slavery are as inaccurate as the assertions, still current, that southern secession and the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery. The other signatories were historians Victoria Bynum, James McPherson, Sean Wilentz and James Oakes. “In place of Hannah-Jones’s statement that ‘the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain … because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery,’ Silverstein substituted ‘that uneasiness among slaveholders in the colonies about growing antislavery sentiment in Britain and increasing imperial regulation helped motivate the Revolution,'” Wilentz explained. Despite this, many on the left clearly see these criticisms as a revanchist attempt to undo progressive gains in the retelling of American history. “There is a notable gap between the claim that the defense of slavery was a chief reason behind the colonists’ drive for independence and the claim that concerns about slavery among a particular group, the slaveholders, ‘helped motivate the Revolution,'” he continued. This doesn’t strike me as a definitive rebuttal of Wilentz so much as a plea for further discussion. opinion, none of these assertions is marred by factual error. At the moment, the narrative seems to be winning out over the inconvenient facts. All Rights Reserved. Regarding the Civil War, Wilentz reported that Hannah-Jones’ argument based on former President Abraham Lincoln “is built on partial truths and misstatements of the facts, which combine to impart a fundamentally misleading impression.” He also pointed out specific falsehoods peddled by the project regarding the Jim Crow era. Hopefully that won’t always be the case. Sean Wilentz (Princeton Univ.) pic.twitter.com/whhto05JrR, This GB offer of freedom panicked and stiffened the spines of Patriots – including those in northern states who were told that the British were unleashing Black and Native violence on white people. The article notes numerous other instances where both the “1619 Project” and Silverstein’s defenses are incorrect. of New York) and C. Vann Woodward (Yale Univ.). “When describing history, more is at stake than the past,” according to Wilentz, who then invoked sociologist and civil rights activist W. E. B. Rumor has it that Princeton professor Sean Wilentz wrote the letter and lined up four others to co-sign: Victoria Bynum, James M. McPherson, James Oakes, and Gordon S. Wood. Princeton’s distinguished liberal historian Sean Wilentz absolutely pile-drives Jake Silverstein, Nikole Hannah-Jones, & the 1619 project: “No effort to educate the public…to advance social justice can afford to dispense with a respect for basic facts.” https://t.co/twvMmQVhF5 pic.twitter.com/GKoEmXM1X0, — Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) January 22, 2020. He has written a lengthy thread replying to the piece. To her credit, she replied (but has since deleted, here’s a screenshot): Nicholas Guyatt is a professor of American history at Cambridge. His most recent book is No Property in Man: Slavery and Antislavery at the Nation’s Founding. “There’s obviously nothing in the Constitution about it.”“This is a contingency that no one would have actively contemplated until … Update: I asked Nikole Hannah-Jones if she planned to respond to Wilentz’ criticism: Granted this is the same critic, but his argument rebutting your claim about the causes of the Revolutionary War seems fairly clear cut and convincing. The letter from Professors Bynum, McPherson, Oakes, Wilentz and Wood differs from the previous critiques we have received in that it contains the first major request for correction. Again, this section is long so I’ll just consider a portion of his response to one specific claim from the 1619 Project: “Like many white Americans,” she wrote, Lincoln “opposed slavery as a cruel system at odds with American ideals, but he also opposed black equality.” This elides the crucial difference between Lincoln and the white supremacists who opposed him. Today, Wilentz has written a piece for the Atlantic in which he addresses three false claims in the 1619 Project in more detail. “Before, during, and after the Civil War, some white people were always an integral part of the fight for racial equality,” Wilentz argued. Du Bois. Let’s take a look. Rob Parkinson thinks this racial ‘othering’ was the glue of the Revolution. I posted this example previously: Less influential publications that would never have thought of such a project on their own are desperate to bring down/steal shine from #the1619Project – and to reassert the traditional status quo. But the colonists had themselves taken decisive steps to end the Atlantic slave trade from 1769 to 1774. They are each plausible historical arguments which can be grounded in evidence and existing scholarship. Gordon Wood. by Sean Wilentz. Princeton’s Sean Wilentz is one of five historians who sent a letter to the NY Times last month requesting that the paper address factual errors in the 1619 Project. He insisted, however, that “in the right to eat the bread without the leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns, [the Negro] is my equal, and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every other man.” To state flatly, as Hannah-Jones’s essay does, that Lincoln “opposed black equality” is to deny the very basis of his opposition to slavery. He begins with the claim by lead-author Nikole Hannah-Jones that “one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.” Not so, says Wilentz. But apart from the activity of the pioneering abolitionist Granville Sharp, Britain was hardly conflicted at all in 1776 over its involvement in the slave system. Measures to abolish the trade also won approval in Massachusetts, Delaware, New York, and Virginia, but were denied by royal officials. Save this story for later. LA restaurant owner rips Garcetti hypocrisy: Why shut me down while allowing a Hollywood canteen in my parking lot? He's a Democrat, an egalitarian, and generally progressive. “No, the framers did not envisage a president refusing to step down or discuss what should be done in such a situation,” Princeton historian Sean Wilentz said. The Times responded on December 20 in a letter … Sean Wilentz has 51 books on Goodreads with 42020 ratings. He denied that the project, which aims to “reframe” American history, contained any errors and offered evidence to disprove the historians’ case. Jul 10, 2020 Contributors in the News. A Letter on Justice and Open Debate. 1619’s power is to shatter the complacency behind the freedom narrative and to invite us — especially those of us who are white – to consider how these historical experiences look from the perspectives of those who were treated most harshly by America. Sean Wilentz, the George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History at Princeton University, is not a conservative. Like the majority of white Americans of his time, including many radical abolitionists, Lincoln harbored the belief that white people were socially superior to black people. “The essay argues that ‘one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery,'” according to Wilentz. Monuments to a Complicated Past. — Nicholas Guyatt (@NicholasGuyatt) January 22, 2020. WHISTLEBLOWER: I Drove 'Thousands of Ballots' From New York to Pennsylvania, CCPA - Do Not Sell My Personal Information, Princeton historian: The 1619 Project is ‘built on partial truths and misstatements of the facts’ (Update). — John Sexton (@verumserum) January 22, 2020. Sean Wilentz. I won’t include all of it but I will refer to the portions that are responsive to the criticisms I quoted above (you can click on any tweet and read the whole thing): In my professional (!) (RELATED: ‘It’s Embarrassing That The New York Times Is Doing This’: Conservatives React To The NYT ‘1619 Project’). The paths of transmission of these ideas — & of Somerset itself — require a greater & more careful analysis than keyword searching of newspaper databases. “No historian better expressed this point, as part of the broader imperative for factual historical accuracy, than W. E. B. The signatories included academic historians from across the country at large universities and small colleges, as well as a few independent historians. You can read it here. That’s fair enough I guess but it’s a lot less cut and dried than the flat claims (about the Revolutionary War, about Lincoln) made in the 1619 Project. A letter in response to Sean Wilentz’s article (October 18, 2010) November 1, 2010. Sean Wilentz in the Wall Street Journal. Last December, five historians—Gordon Wood, Victoria Bynum, James McPherson, Sean Wilentz, and James Oakes—took issue with the 1619 Project’s central and most contentious claim: that the nation’s founding date is not 1776 but a century and a half earlier. Biden’s virtual inauguration is “going to have to be more imaginative” than the dreadful Democrat convention, Benjamin Wittes: Barr’s appointment of Durham was ‘devilishly clever’, How a Georgia Republican reached his breaking point with Trump, Dem pollster: Dump this progressive slogan if you want to win elections, Joe Biden pulled his dog’s tail and that’s when he broke his foot, The party that failed: An insider breaks with Beijing. But just walk over there and eat.”, “If the nation truly wants to have a DACA program, it is up to Congress to say so.”, “seems designed to make it awkward for a Democratic attorney general to come in and remove Durham”, “The contestants failed to meet their burden to provide credible and relevant evidence …”. In Wilentz’s view, the decision of Lord Mansfield in 1772 to free James Somerset had little impact in the colonies and less in Britain. As the historian Christopher Leslie Brown writes in his authoritative study of British abolitionism, Moral Capital, Sharp “worked tirelessly against the institution of slavery everywhere within the British Empire after 1772, but for many years in England he would stand nearly alone.” What Hannah-Jones described as a perceptible British threat to American slavery in 1776 in fact did not exist. Gordon Wood, Victoria Bynum, James McPherson, Sean Wilentz, and James Oakes The historians’ letter. pic.twitter.com/14Km1wGiVZ, Lincoln’s views on colonization & Black citizenship surely evolved; & as I’ve argued elsewhere colonization failed partly because Black people themselves refused to play the role they’d been offered by those ‘liberal’ whites who wanted them out of the U.S. https://t.co/NX65Vl2O8S. (May 2020) Du Bois … In exposing the falsehoods of his racist adversaries, Du Bois became the upholder of plain, provable fact against what he saw as the Dunning School’s propagandistic story line.”, (RELATED: ‘It’s Embarrassing That The New York Times Is Doing This’: Conservatives React To The NYT ‘1619 Project’). I’m sure you saw the letter from Sean Wilentz and others, along with my response, both of which were published in our Dec 29 issue. Wilentz also ripped Silverstein in the article, noting that he “ignored the errors we had specified and then imputed to the essay a very different claim.” Silverstein’s claim came after the historians disagreed with the project’s argument that the Revolution was largely fought “to protect slavery.”. 0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings. Submit a letter: Email us firstname.lastname@example.org. His ethic background is both Jewish and Irish, so chances are he is not a Reformed Protestant and so does not have a Christian w-w. Wilentz’s main issues focus on “the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the long history of resistance to racism from Jim Crow to the present.” Wilentz ripped NYT writer Nikole Hannah-Jones’ lead essay about the Revolution to begin his analysis of the project’s faults. Copyright HotAir.com/Salem Media. Near the end of the piece Wilentz reaffirms his own liberal bona fides and fondness for the NY Times: The New York Times has taken a lead in combatting the degradation of truth and assault on a free press propagated by Donald Trump’s White House, aided and abetted by Vladimir Putin’s Russia, and spun by the far right on social media. Is There Another Scenario That Makes Justice Alito's Dec. 9 Response Date Meaningful in Different Way? Silverstein’s substitution “makes a large concession … about the errors in Hannah Jones’s essay,” Wilentz wrote. I don’t think the critics are trying to “bring down” the 1619 Project. The historian ended his article in The Atlantic by once again urging the publication to consider the errors in its project. Disagree with them if you wish, but “serious inaccuracies”? Wilentz pointed out specific cases where the project’s reconstruction of the Civil War and Jim Crow contain “factual errors.”. In 1998, University professor Sean Wilentz drafted a letter — signed by over 400 historians — opposing the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton. Historian Sean Wilentz dissected the New York Times’ controversial “1619 Project” in an article published Wednesday by The Atlantic after the publication refused to acknowledge its “factual errors.”. In response, the NY Times published the letter along with a lengthy response denying that any corrections were necessary. Every one of them, including Wilentz, has said they think the Project is a worthy goal. Sean Wilentz, the George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History, won the Bancroft Prize for his 2005 “The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln.” The other signatories of the letter are Victoria Bynum of Texas State University, James Oakes of the City University of New York, and Gordon S. Wood of Brown University.