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Profs and Pints DC presents: “Slavery and the American Revolution,” a look at the explosive question of whether our nation’s fight for independence arose from a desire to preserve human bondage, with Richard Bell, professor of history at the University of Maryland at College Park and scholar of the revolutionary period.
The New York Times’ 1619 Project made the controversial claim that “one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.” Those 24 words, first published in New York Times magazine in August 2019, shocked both lay readers and many historians.
“This is not true. If supportable, the allegation would be astounding,” five senior U.S. history professors wrote a public letter to the Times demanding 1619 Project corrections. Debate continues to swirl around this claim long after the investigative reporter who created the 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, received a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for her work on it.
Hannah-Jones’ claim is certainly astounding given the enduring belief that the patriots fought the American Revolution to achieve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But is it supportable? What’s the evidence? Does any of it hold water?
Hear such questions tackled by historian Richard Bell, a scholar of African American history and the American Revolution who has delivered a host of excellent Profs and Pints talks on subjects such as the Hamilton musical, the “reverse underground railroad,” and the roles that African Americans played in our nation’s fight for independence.
Professor Bell will weigh the evidence for and against the claim that Americans fought the American revolution to preserve and protect their right to own other human beings as slaves. His talk will offer insights into how historians do the work of sorting out what happened in the past. You might just end up thinking about his field—and our nation’s own history—in an entirely new light. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)
Image: George Washington on his Virginia plantation as depicted in an 1851 painting by Junius Brutus Stearns.