Tag: July Fourth

Member Post

 

Who was Phyllis Wheatley?  She was an African-American who was a slave but taught to read and write and showed a natural gift toward poetry.  According to Wikipedia, she was born in West Africa, enslaved at about seven or eight, brought to the colonies where she was sold to the Wheatley family in Boston.  This […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are joined by Gordon Wood, Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Radicalism of the American Revolution. Professor Wood shares his wisdom about the many ways in which the Revolution marked a new beginning for humanity, reversing the centuries-old, top-down understanding of government and society. They begin with the efforts of Founders such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Rush to institute universal public education to nurture the well-educated and enlightened citizenry that they viewed as the backbone of the Republic. They discuss why George Washington’s “disinterest” in political rewards for military victory was so unique and extraordinary among his international contemporaries. Professor Wood also explains how the American Revolution gave rise to the first anti-slave movements in world history, and how actions taken to abolish slavery led to its eventual demise as a result of the Civil War. They also delve into the lives of the Revolutionary era’s often less well-known female figures, including Abigail Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Judith Sargent Murray, and the inspirational freed slave poet, Phillis Wheatley. Professor Wood concludes with observations on Aaron Burr, popularized through “Hamilton,” the phenomenally successful musical, and the character traits and actions that have cast Burr as one of American history’s most notorious Founding era figures. The Learning Curve team would like to wish everyone a Happy Fourth of July!

Stories of the Week: A Good Morning America feature story highlights how African-American history will likely see greater traction across the nation’s classrooms, thanks to teachers’ efforts to move beyond outdated textbooks and create their own culturally-sensitive learning materials. The supervisory group for the Nation’s Report Card announced this week that it is cancelling national assessments of U.S. history or civics in 2021 for eighth graders. Is this decision reflective of a legitimate concern about spreading COVID, or merely a concession to the country’s growing anti-testing movement?

A Declaration to Be Read

 

founding-fathers-declaration-of-independence“Since well before 1787, liberty has been understood as freedom from government action, not entitlement to government benefits.” — Justice Clarence Thomas, dissenting opinion Obergefell v. Hodges 2015

On July 4, 1776, the final language of the formal Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress. The official vote for independence from Great Britain had taken place two days earlier, so it is somewhat confusing that the 4th has become known as Independence Day. To my mind, July 2nd should be Independence Day, but July 4th would be better understood as Liberty Day, a celebration of the most concise and complete explanation of liberty published before or since, anywhere on the globe.

Both the document and the actions produced by the Continental Congress in the summer of ’76 were turning points in the history of mankind that had taken thousands of years to reach. It is a common suggestion at this time of year to sit down and read the Declaration of Independence, individually or as a family, to remember the day beyond the standard family BBQ. But reading without understanding it is to miss the point, and treating the Declaration as something that fell out of the air — or Thomas Jefferson’s head — is to miss the thousands of years of thought, failed experiments, hopes, bloody struggles, and of progress measured in inches and human lives that preceded it.