The 1620 Project
Puritanism & the Ideological Founding of America
by John B. Carpenter
In August 2019 the New York Times set out to revolutionize American history by re-centering the origin of the United States not on the Declaration of Independence signed in 1776 but on the arrival of the first African slaves in Virginia in 1619. The paper boldly proclaimed that it "aim[ed] to reframe the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative." According to the Times, 1619 was not just a landmark in American history but "the country's very origin" (Jake Silverstein, "Why We Published The 1619 Project," December 20, 2019). Is that a center that can hold?
Those with even a superficial knowledge of American history should immediately notice some problems. For one thing, 1619 is twelve years after the founding of Jamestown. Though not exactly thriving, that colony had been established and had survived for a dozen years without slaves.
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John B. Carpenter is the pastor of Covenant Reformed Baptist Church in Danville, Virginia. He holds a Ph.D. in church history from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and an M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary.
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