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Lewis Morris / Jan. 21, 2021

Biden Disbands Trump’s 1776 Commission

But not before its report landed, helping to frame American history in proper context.

Earlier this week we witnessed one of the concluding achievements of Donald Trump’s presidency — the report from his 1776 Commission. Given life by executive order the day before the 2020 election, the commission’s role was to give future generations a chance to understand the principles and history of America’s founding.

The 1776 Commission provided a counterbalance to the overwhelming trend of anti-Americanism in the teaching of history and civics in our schools. It’s as important for people to learn the troubling facts of America’s past as it is to learn of the nation’s successes, but the Left focuses only on the bad.

Ever since leftists began infiltrating America’s education system in the 1960s and ‘70s, they have been pushing a politically charged narrative of the nation’s history that paints a distorted and often false picture of a racist, imperialist nation. Now that public education and institutions of higher learning are predominantly run by the Left, that narrative has become part of the curriculum. The New York Times’s 1619 Project, an anti-American polemic that traded scholarship for propaganda, is the culmination of the leftist reeducation movement in America.

The result of that miseducation? Only 24% of 8th graders are at least “proficient” in U.S. history, while only 15% are proficient in government and civics.

The 1776 Commission is about more than providing “patriotic education,” as Trump termed it. It’s about studying American history in context and learning about America’s founding, recognizing that a country that does not possess a true understanding of its founding will not long survive.

The commission submitted its report Monday, but it will be the last report of the group. By 1:00 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, just one hour after Trump officially left office, the White House website had been scrubbed of all mentions of the commission. President Joe Biden signed an executive order to kill the commission as one of his first acts in office. The media predictably savaged the report, misrepresenting it in headlines and stories.

Unity.

Fortunately, The Heritage Foundation has the full report and will continue to host it.

But the commission’s work is out there now, and it cannot be wished away. In a meeting conducted on January 5, the group discussed how best to understand and communicate the nation’s founding principles. Among the conclusions they reached was that religion and Judeo-Christian tradition need to be part of any effort to understand the country’s history.

“There’s no way you can look at the constitutions of the 13 colonies … and say that our nation was not deeply influenced by religion,” said Dr. Carol Swain, a former law professor at Vanderbilt University. “And that is a part of who we are, part of history, we shouldn’t try to erase.”

The report is worth reading and sharing. It lays out an honest and reasoned approach to the study of America’s founding and what that means for each of us. It’s hard to encapsulate all that is shared in this document and convey its importance, but this statement in the conclusion comes close:

“America’s founding principles are true not because any generation — including our own — has lived them perfectly, but because they are based upon the eternal truths of the human condition. They are rooted in our capacity for evil and power for good, our longing for truth and striving for justice, our need for order and our love of freedom. Above all else, these principles recognize the worth, equality, potential, dignity, and glory of each and every man, woman, and child created in the image of God.”


Footnote: Historian Victor Davis Hanson, a member of the commission, gives his thoughts here.

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