by Al Benson Jr.
It should come as no surprise to those who understand the rationale for government or public schooling that the teaching of real American history is not something that has a real high priority. In most cases, what passes for “history” today in public schools is little more than politically correct propaganda that reeks of multiculturalism, diversity, environmentalism and a host of other “isms” that have nothing to do with accurate history and everything to do with making sure students never come close to the real truth.
One of the most critical (if not the most critical) periods in our history is that period embracing the War of Northern Aggression, the real reasons for that War, and the shameful period after that War which was euphemistically labeled as “reconstruction”–a term advocated by Karl Marx when he talked about the “reconstruction of a social world” (the South).
For our young folks to correctly understand and interpret our history, what happened in that time period must be correctly understood by them. If they are not taught to grasp all that happened at that point then none of the rest of it will make any sense and we will end up with the skewed version of “Americanism” and patriotism that exists in our day, even among Christians.
Most public school history books teach fables for history. They teach that the “Civil War” was fought by the North to free the slaves in the South. Seldom, if ever, is it mentioned that up to a few years before the War slavery also existed in the North. Archaeologists have been unearthing evidence of slave-holding plantations in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey that plainly give the lie to the myth that slavery in this country only existed in the Southern states. Cheryl LaRoche, a historical archaeologist from the University of Maryland noted: “America was a slaveholding country–North and South–Over the years that reality has been lost, stolen, or just strayed from the history books.” Stolen would be more like it–down the memory hole if you will.
Even some historians and journalists don’t seem to know or realize much of this truth today. Author Douglas Harper wrote: “I had written one book on Pennsylvania history and started a second before I learned that William Penn had been a slaveowner.” Why do you suppose that information was not in the “history” books Mr. Harper studied?
Historian Joanne Pope Mellish wrote a perceptive book on race relations in ante-bellum New England, and she recalls how it was possible to read American history textbooks at the high school level and never know there was such a thing as a slave North of the Mason-Dixon Line. Mr. Harper started a web site dealing with slavery in the Northern states, only to notice after awhile that one of the major search engines had, somehow, “lost” all his references to slavery in the Northern states. He contacted them, and soon his comments about Northern slavery were back up–only to disappear again in a few days. That memory hole again–great place for disposing of inconvenient truths.
If our children are only taught that this War was fought over slavery they will have no real grasp of the other, more important issues involved–tariffs, cultural differences between the two regions, even theological differences between the two regions.
They will never be taught to understand the concept of the rights of the individual states within the framework of a confederated Union. Hence they will never learn the limitations that were placed on the federal government. That being the case they will see no problem today when a runaway federal government does whatever it feels like doing, recognizing no restraints whatever. To them such will be normal if they do not know our real history and they will think it has always been like this, when, in fact, it has not.
“History” books today spend almost no time showing how the War of Northern Aggression actually changed the country we live in from a representative republic into a consolidated democracy where Washington runs the whole show. Most people, educated in public schools, don’t know the difference between a republic and a democracy, and neither our history books nor our politicians are about to enlighten them.
Here in Louisiana the last time students learn the history of the War of Northern Aggression is in the 7th grade. Nothing about it in high school at all. Honestly, how much of what you learned in the 7th grade do you remember. I can’t recall anything from 7th grade that has stuck with me. And most kids today can’t even tell you what century the War was fought in. They are not sure whether it came before or after World War 1.
The War of Northern Aggression was our French Revolution, from which we have never recovered–and until our children have been taught to understand that, we never will. If our view of the past is faulty, then our vision for the future will be also–and our children and grandchildren will be forced to live with the results.