Episode #46: Lincoln Redux: Race and American History with Lucas Morel

Episode #46

David Randall

The New York Times’ 1619 Project attempts to recast all of American history as centered on slavery. In this discussion with NAS Research Director David Randall, Professor Lucas Morel of Washington and Lee University critiques the lead piece of the 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones’ essay “Our Democracy’s Founding Ideals were False When They Were Written. Black Americans have Fought to Make Them True,” as misinformed about America’s founders and Abraham Lincoln.

Morel, a Lincoln scholar, emphasizes the value of reading original texts written by the historical figures in question. In speaking about Lincoln, Morel argues that “The best indication of what somebody thinks is what they say and write...that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t judge what they said by what they did, but we need to first understand their mind. The best revelation of that is in what they wrote.”

Morel also describes the way the “1619 Project view” of American history has affected American culture and students, and how to counter it.

Show Notes

0:00 David Randall introduces the NAS’s 1620 Project and his guest, Professor Lucas Morel.

3:02 Morel introduces his disagreements with Nikole Hannah-Jones’ lead essay of the New York Times’ 1619 Project.

5:43 Morel describes two primary problems with the essay: its unceasingly critical characterization of the American founding and of Abraham Lincoln. 

8:05 What makes attacking the founders necessary? Morel points to Hannah-Jones’ zero-sum game: to elevate blacks, you must tear down whites.

13:38 Harvard’s Danielle Allen is an American historian who may have a more balanced perspective on these issues.

16:21 Were there significant, reasonable impediments the founders faced in abolishing slavery? Hannah-Jones says no; Morel says yes.

23:58 How have the ideas promoted by the 1619 Project affected American K-12 teaching materials?

27:52 Morel identifies some quality curricula for teaching the history of slavery and the American founding.

31:27 How do you approach teaching your college students who come in with a “1619 Project” view of history?

41:59 What led Morel to spend his career studying Lincoln and the founders?

46:19 How does Morel teach the lovability of America to his students?

48:46 What would Lincoln tell us to do to prevent the “1619 Project” view of history from becoming widely accepted?

Resources

Nikole Hannah-Jones, “Our Democracy’s Founding Ideals were False When They Were Written. Black Americans have Fought to Make Them True,” New York Times, 14 August 2019.
Lucas Morel, “America Wasn’t Founded on White Supremacy,” The American Mind, 17 October 2019.


Image: lincoln memorial washington dc by MarkThomas // Pixabay license

  • Share

Most Commented

March 16, 2022

1.

Exclusive: Association of American Medical Colleges to Propose DEI Curriculum Standards

The Association of American Medical Colleges plans to release “diversity, equity, and inclusion competencies” that will force students and faculty to embrace social justice......

November 24, 2021

2.

1619 Again: Revisiting the Project's Troubled Past

New York Times editor Jake Silverstein's new essay on the 1619 Project attempts to glide past the awkwardness that accompanied the project’s early days. Let's set the reco......

May 12, 2022

3.

Mornin’ Ralph, Mornin’ Sam in Anthropology Today

Professor Lowrey recounts her latest encounter with academic cancel culture, this time with an acceptance-turned-rejection at Anthropology Today....

Most Read

April 5, 2022

1.

How Many Confucius Institutes Are in the United States?

UPDATED: We're keeping track of all Confucius Institutes in the United States, including those that remain open, those that closed, and those that have announced their closing....

May 15, 2015

2.

Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

October 12, 2010

3.

Ask a Scholar: What is the True Definition of Latino?

What does it mean to be Latino? Are only Latin American people Latino, or does the term apply to anyone whose language derived from Latin?...