1619 - an Eventful Year for Virginia


In 1948, President Truman ordered the armed forces to integrate. They resisted mightily; the process took years. But immediately in 1948, the outraged Dixiecrat senator Strom Thurmond ran against Truman for the States Rights Party - a precursor of the modern Trumpist Dixiecrat Republican Party.

And then

"The Byrd machine was alarmed by President Truman's 1948 integration of the armed forces. In 1950 the Virginia History and Government Textbook Commission took control of the curriculum from local school boards, choosing the writers and supervising the final drafts"

So what now? Oddly enough, though tens of thousands of copies of this edition and subsequent editions were printed, only a few survive in libraries, and when a copy is for sale, it fetches hundreds of dollars. Various pages can be found on the internet, mostly of the "happy slave" material, but I couldn't find the 1619 chapter I remembered so well. But I was lucky enough to locate a copy of the 1957 edition that I had used. So what were the three great changes in Virginia in 1619 that laid the foundation for America today?

The economic foundation was so strong that Virginia was able to pay off all its Revolutionary War debt itself. So it objected strongly to the Federal government paying off the Revolutionary War debt for Massachusetts. To compensate for Federal assumption of the debt, Hamilton and Jefferson agreed that the national capital would be in the slaveholding south. Politicians have been punished by the DC climate ever since.

So it seems that just as I was taught in 1960, 1619 was the real foundation of America, just as the New York Times 1619 Project reported in 2019.


The book wasn't ALL bad. I learned 1619, but I also learned the three things Jefferson wanted on his tombstone -

HERE WAS BURIED
THOMAS JEFFERSON
AUTHOR OF THE 
DECLARATION 
OF 
AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE
OF THE 
STATUTE OF VIRGINIA 
FOR 
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
AND FATHER OF THE 
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA.

Jefferson was a flawed man in many ways - he knew slavery was wrong but he didn't know how to live any other way, even though he was in debt to foreign banks most of his life. He couldn't keep his hands off Sally Hemmings - a widespread aspect of slavery the reactionaries don't like to talk about. But at his best he was quite inspiring to his own and following generations.


The 1957 edition, and the 1964 edition, can be located in university libraries by web search. Some excerpts, mostly of the "happy slaves" variety, can be found posted on the web, though not pp 79-86 cited above.


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