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Conquest by Context in the History Wars

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Corinne Federici of Boston takes pictures of her sons Tyler, 9, and Dylan, 11, in front of the statue of Thomas Jefferson at The Jefferson Memorial in Washington, U.S., July 3, 2021. REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert

In today’s bitter battles over telling America’s story, the Left seeks to emphasize shame and shortcomings, while the Right hopes to block the most negative depictions of the nation’s past. What both sides should demand instead is expansion, not restriction, of the history we teach—with a deeper, richer perspective on our republic’s place in the world.

Yes, of course students must learn that the first slaves—an estimated 23 of them—arrived in Virginia in 1619, a year before the Mayflower. But they should also understand that at the time of this fateful encounter, the African slave trade to the New World had already been well established for more than a century, and that the United States played a relatively minor role in the cruel commerce in human beings that Madison denounced as “unnatural traffic” and “the barbarism of modern policy….Click here to read Michael’s full column at Newsweek.com

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