The National Association of Scholars, through its 1620 Project, aims to recruit historians and scholars of all sorts to assemble a comprehensive riposte to the 1619 Project. Their goal is not to erase the history of slavery but to put it in an accurate historical context.
In this interview, H.W. Brand, professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, discusses the story of American enterprise. As he explains:
[This is] the story of how Americans have made their living—earned their daily bread, bought and sold goods and services, created jobs and companies, organized and innovated, bargained and battled in the marketplace—is scarcely less than the story of America itself. There’s almost nothing it doesn’t include, and no one it doesn’t touch.
It’s also the secret to America’s enduring appeal to the rest of the world. For every immigrant who came for religious or political freedom, there were a score or a hundred who came for economic opportunity—for the chance to make better lives for themselves and their children. They didn’t all succeed, but enough did that they kept coming, by the millions and millions, sometimes in the face of daunting adversity. The American dream has always been a material dream, for the most part; and humans, whatever else they are, are material beings. Everybody eats.
H.W. Brand teaches at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Masters of Enterprise and other books on American history.