I received an email from a distraught parent whose daughter is being taught, in a Christian school, that America's founders were bad people who only wanted freedom and equality for themselves. I sent her the article below, which she read and immediately forwarded to the principal with an exprssion of her concern.
Her school has obviously been influenced by the New York Times' "1619 Project," which paints America as racist and evil. Proponents of the 1619 narrative claim that America was forever defined by slavery and that 1619, when the first African slaves were brought to this land, represents her true founding, not 1776.
Sadly, school children throughout America are being brainwashed by this twisted history of our country. Now, Oprah Winfrey has teamed up with Disney to produce a "docuseries" for TV that will propagate this same distortion of America's origins.
If we do not preserve our true history, the America of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, and King will be no more, for as George Orwell said, "Whoever controls the past, controls the future."
1726 is the Key for Interpreting Our History
Slavery is a horrible blight on America’s past and could have defined her had it not been for 1726. That year, a great, spiritual awakening began, which eventually engulfed colonial America in an inferno of religious fervor. Racial and cultural barriers were breached and an abolition movement was ignited that eventually brought about the end of slavery on this continent.
Instead of being defined by 1619, America became defined by 1726 as a land of faith and freedom. The key to preserving our history and confronting the 1619 myth is to understand what happened, beginning in 1726. Interpreting America's history in the light of 1726 changes everything.
In the following essay, I present 5 facts from the 1726 narrative that completely dispels the 1619 myth about America.
Slavery came into the world as a result of the Fall (Genesis 3) when our first parents rebelled against their Creator. It is a part of sinful humanity and has been practiced by peoples and civilizations for thousands of years. Slavery was common throughout the Roman Empire and it has been said that the master-slave relationship in Rome was as common as the employer-employee relationship today.
During its 400-year reign, the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire enslaved millions of white Europeans. Decades after the Emancipation Proclamation in America, white slaves were still being bought and sold in the Islamic Ottoman Empire. When the first African slaves were brought to America in 1619, slavery was being practiced in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and many parts of the world.
This is why the late Dr. Walter Williams said that slavery in America was neither odd nor strange. Williams, who happened to be black, pointed out that at the beginning of the nineteenth century, “An estimated three-quarters of all people alive were trapped in bondage against their will either in some form of slavery or serfdom.”
Williams said that what was unique about slavery in America was both the brevity of its existence and the moral outrage that arose against it. The late historians, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene Genovese, agreed, saying,
Europeans did not outdo others in enslaving people or treating slaves viciously. They outdid others by creating a Christian civilization that eventually stirred moral condemnation of slavery and roused mass movements against it.
As documented in my book, 1726, a powerful anti-slavery movement emerged out of the great, spiritual awakening that rocked colonial America in the 18th century. In this “Great Awakening,” racial and cultural barriers were breached as blacks and whites worshipped together and shared the Gospel with everyone regardless of race or status in life.
Awakening preachers began to viciously attack the institution of slavery around 1750. Samuel Hopkins (1721–1803), for example, who had been personally tutored by Jonathan Edwards, pastored for a time in Newport, Rhode Island, an important hub in the transatlantic slave trade. What he saw in Newport deeply grieved him and he wrote, “This whole country have their hands full of blood this day.”
In 1774, after the First Continental Congress had convened in Philadelphia, Hopkins sent a pamphlet to every member of the Congress, asking how they could complain about “enslavement” to England and overlook the “enslavement” of so many blacks in the Colonies.
As “Liberty” was becoming a watchword throughout the Colonies, the preachers of the Awakening began applying it to the enslaved in America. Like Hopkins, they pointed out the hypocrisy of demanding freedom from England while continuing to tolerate the institution of slavery in their midst. The Baptist preacher, John Allen, thundered,
Blush ye pretended votaries of freedom! ye trifling Patriots! who are making a vain parade of being advocates for the liberties of mankind, who are thus making a mockery of your profession by trampling on the sacred natural rights and privileges of Africans (Hyatt, 1726:The Year that Defined America, 93-94).
Out of this Great Awakening and the racial harmony it stirred, black preachers, such as Richard Allen, began to arise and saw great success with both black and white audiences. Black congegations, both slave and free, began to be formed and the American black church, that has had such a positive and profound influence on American life, was born.
The breaching of racial barriers in the Great Awakening provided the social context for George Washington to order his recruiting officers to accept free blacks into the ranks of the Continental Army. As a result, by 1781 one in every seven American soldiers was black. Blacks and whites fought together for freedom from Great Britain.
Yes, at a time when slavery was accepted and practiced throughout the world, moral outrage had arisen against it in colonial America.
When it Was Accepted Around the World
As a result of the Great Awakening and the abolition movement it launched, virtually all of America’s founders turned against slavery at a time it was accepted and practiced throughout the world. Dr. Thomas Sowell, who happens to be black, has written about this, saying,
Slavery was just not an issue, not even among intellectuals, much less among political leaders, until the 18th century–and then it was an issue only in Western civilization. Among those who turned against slavery in the 18th century were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and other American leaders. You could research all of 18th century Africa or Asia or the Middle East without finding any comparable rejection of slavery there (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 90).
Many of America's founders were passionate abolitionists. For example, Dr, Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia was a member of the Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He helped form America’s first Abolition Society in his hometown and he called on the ministers of America to take a bold stand against slavery, saying, “Slavery is a Hydra sin and includes in it every violation of the precepts of the Laws and the Gospels” (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 101).
Two years before the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin liberated his two slaves and began advocating for abolition. He joined the Abolition Society in Philadelphia and later served as its president.
George Washington’s situation was more complex. He had inherited a large plantation with a large number of slaves, and he realized that to thrust them suddenly and unprepared into the world would have been unwise, and perhaps, harmful to them.
To remedy the situation, Washington set up a compassionate program to disentangle Mt. Vernon from the institution of slavery. Those slaves who wanted to leave were free to do so. Those who chose to remain were paid wages, and he began a program to educate and prepare the children of slaves for freedom. Concerning abolition, he declared,
Not only do I pray for it, on the score of human dignity, but I can clearly foresee that nothing but the rooting out of slavery can perpetuate the existence of our union by consolidating it in a common bond of principle (Hyatt, 1726: The Year thatDefined America, 103).
Even those founders, such as Patrick Henry, who did not free their slaves admitted that it was sinful and wrong. By the time of the writing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the Constitution in 1787, virtually every founder agreed with John Adams who declared,
Every measure of prudence ought to be assumed for the eventual total extirpation of slavery from the United States. I have throughout my whole life held the practice of slavery in abhorrence (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 101).
Yes, America’s founders were at the forefront of the fight to end slavery in the 18th century.
Because of the Great Awakening that began in 1726, there are no classifications based on race or skin color in America’s founding documents. Slavery is not mentionted. Nothing in either the Declaration of Independence or the United States Constitution indicates that the freedoms guaranteed do not apply to every individual.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968) understood this and in his stirring, I Have a Dream speech, he challenged America, not to dispense with her founding documents, but instead, to live up to them. Speaking from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he declared,
When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Then quoting from the Declaration of Independence, he proclaimed,
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 122).
Yes, America’s founding documents are colorblind even if her history has not been. According to James Madison, the chief architect of the Constitution, this was purposeful for they felt it wrong to even mention slavery and thereby admit that there could be such a thing as human property.
Sacrificed Their Lives to End Slavery
Where would a nation get the moral fortitude to sacrifice a million of its citizens in order to end slavery? The Civil War was, by far, the most costly war America has ever fought. There was an incredible loss of livelihood as cities were burned and crops destroyed, but nothing could compare with the loss of life that occurred.
It is estimated that at least 700,000 soldiers lost their lives, and all on Ameican soil. Add to this the civilian casualties and the thousands who were permanently maimed and injured and we arrive at the estimate of one million casualties. The magnitude of the loss is amplified by the fact that the United States population at the time was only 31 million.
By way of comparison, in WWII around 290,000 American soldiers lost their lives. In the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan less than 10,000 Americans have died. More lives were lost in the Civil War than in all wars combined from the American Revolution through the Korean Conflict.
It was truly a devastating time. Weeping could be heard in homes throughout America. In many homes both father and sons were missing. Hardly a family could be found that had not lost multiple family members.
It was the moral conviction that slavery was abhorrent in the sight of God that led hundreds of thousands of white Americans to join black Americans and put their lives on the line to abolish slavery in their homeland. This moral outrage was a product of 1726 and the Awakening that began that year and the Awakenings that came afterwards.
The Summation of it All
Yes, America’s history has been far from perfect, but where sin has abounded God’s grace has abounded much more (Romans 5:20b). Americans of all races and creeds can, therefore, sing together the words of the patriotic hymn, “America! America! God shed His grace on thee.”
This grace has come in the form of spiritual awakenings that have awakened the best in the American populace, inspiring individuals to love God with all their hearts and their neighbors as themselves. As a result, society has been transformed from within and the nation has prospered.
America stands in desperate need of another such Awakening. Because of 1726, Christian awakening is in our national DNA. We can, therefore, pray with confidence that another Great Awakening will sweep across our land, renewing our faith and bringing hope, healing, and reconciliation.
This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's book, 1726: The Year that Defined America, available fromAmazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. He is the founder of the "1726 Project" dedicated to informing America about her Christian roots out of Spiritual Awakening.