Video: 1776

The American Character in History and Teaching

National Association of Scholars

There are many dates that vie for the year that America was truly founded: 1619, as the New York Times argues; 1620, as we discussed in our last webinar; 1789, the year of the Constitution’s adoption; and 1863, at the rebirth of a nation through a bloody civil war and the heavy words of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. But for most Americans, no date can contend with the actual date of America’s birth in the words penned by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.

In 1776, a collection of unruly colonies stood up to their king, declared independence, and formed a new nation. Each year, we Americans celebrate this event on July 4th, our Independence Day.

But is 1776 truly America’s founding year? Europeans colonized the New World for nearly 200 years before the Founders signed the Declaration of Independence. Does marking the nation’s founding in 1776 remove part of the story of America?

Notably, the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution failed to provide equal rights for most inhabitants of America for nearly 200 years after King George sent a fleet to quash the foundling uprising. Does celebrating the year 1776 exclude those who were unable to receive equal rights?


This webinar features Conor Friedersdorf, a staff writer at The Atlantic; Bob Woodson, founder and president of the Woodson Center and 1776 Unites; and Jason Ross, associate professor and associate dean of Liberty University's Helms School of Government. The discussion was moderated by Bruce Gilley, Professor of Political Science at Portland State University and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Scholars.

  • Share

Most Commented

May 7, 2024


Creating Students, Not Activists

The mobs desecrating the American flag, smashing windows, chanting genocidal slogans—this always was the end game of the advocates of the right to protest, action civics, student activ......

March 9, 2024


A Portrait of Claireve Grandjouan

Claireve Grandjouan, when I knew her, was Head of the Classics Department at Hunter College, and that year gave a three-hour Friday evening class in Egyptian archaeology....

April 20, 2024


The Academic's Roadmap

By all means, pursue your noble dream of improving the condition of humanity through your research and teaching. Could I do it all again, I would, but I would do things very differently....

Most Read

May 15, 2015


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....

June 5, 2024


Subpoenas for All!

Ohio Northern University knaws its teeth with an appitite for vindictive lawfare....

October 12, 2010


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?...