On this July 4th Eve, I want to remind Americans about something – this nation was founded on a choice, a choice that was eventually reflected in the Declaration of Independence, the Northwest Ordinance and the Constitution of the United States.
The dishonest 1619 project would have you believe that America was founded in 1619 when a British privateer landed at Point Comfort in Virginia with “…20. And odd Negroes, w[hich] the Governo[r] and Cape Merchant bought for victuals.” The slaves were not bought as food – food was traded for them, do not let the quirks of the language of the times trip you up.
The important thing is that these slaves were not brought to Point Comfort from Africa on purpose, it was more a accident of circumstances. British privateers were given license by the Crown to attack and confiscate vessels and cargo to slow down Spanish settlement in South America. In 1619, an estimated 350 African captives were loaded onto a Portuguese slave ship called the São João Bautista (more commonly known as the San Juan Batista) in Luanda, Angola. The San Juan Batista) was en route to the Spanish colony of Veracruz in Mexico when two English privateer ships, the White Lion and the Treasurer, intercepted it and seized some of the Angolans on board.
This is where the story of America begins – according to the New York Times – but the 1619 Project ignores another landing that is more representative of what America was to become – the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in 1620 – and the differences between these two colonies could not be more different.
Point Comfort and Jamestown were founded under the aegis of the Virginia Company of London. The Virginia Company was a for-profit organization chartered by the Crown to establish settlements in the New World for the purpose of exploiting the rich resources found here. The settlers of Jamestown built their fort on land owned and occupied specifically by the Paspahegh tribe, part of the Powhatan Confederacy, and. The natives initially welcomed and provided crucial provisions and support for the colonists, who were not agriculturally inclined, but relations quickly soured, and the colonists would annihilate the Paspahegh in warfare within four years.
The Plymouth Colony was not founded for profit. Most of the citizens of Plymouth were fleeing religious persecution and searching for a place to worship as they saw fit, rather than seeking profit like many of the settlers of Jamestown. The social and legal systems of the colony became closely tied to their religious beliefs, as well as to English custom. The colony established a treaty with Wampanoag Chief Massasoit which helped to ensure its success; in this, they were aided by Squanto, a member of the Patuxet tribe. Squanto was the sole survivor of the tribe that had formerly occupied the land where the Pilgrims established the colony, the tribe having been wiped out by an epidemic of leptospirosis, along with 90% of the other Native Americans living along the coast three years before the Mayflower arrived. The tribes in the area considered the land cursed, so they really did not care if some Englishmen settled there.
The Pilgrims cooperated with the tribes. Once, finding out from which tribe they had inadvertently stolen corn stores upon their initial landing, the Pilgrims replaced the corn. Miles Standish lead a militia group in a rescue effort to free Squanto and Massasoit after they had been captured by a rival tribe. Convinced that democracy was the form of government mandated by God, the pilgrims drafted the Mayflower Compact as a basis for governing, and they rejected collectivism and embraced capitalism trading freely with the native inhabitants.
This is the beginning of the America of today. It’s no secret why the 1619 Project chose Jamestown rather than Plymouth upon which to base their narrative.
Remember that as we celebrate America’s Independence. We, as a nation, are truly unique in history.