1619 vs. 1620: Slaves versus Pilgrims in the Struggle over America’s Founding

The Virginia tourism industry hoped to turn 1619 into a cause for celebration, emphasizing the advent of diversity through the arrival of “20 odd Negroes” in the colony, but the New York Times Magazine gained control of the conversation with its special issue about the history of slavery.

Lecture Description

Commemorative campaigns identified both 2019 and 2020 as foundational moments in the creation of the United States. One emphasizes slavery and racial injustice as present from the first, while the other emphasizes the sacrifice and hard work of the first settlers. These dueling commemorations tell us a great deal about the American past as well as the struggle for its future.


Pre-1700 Slavery

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