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IPFS News Link • American History

What the 1619 Project Gets Wrong about Slavery and Economics

• by John Phelan

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved people from West Africa in what is now the United States. The New York Times is marking the event with its 1619 Project. The Times describes this as a "major initiative (...) observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery."

Capitalism on the Plantation

The 1619 Project lists a range of current social evils in America and traces them all back to slavery. One article, for example, is titled "American Capitalism Is Brutal. You Can Trace That to the Plantation." The author, Princeton sociology professor Matthew Desmond, paints a picture of the evil institution at work.

They picked in long rows, bent bodies shuffling through cotton fields white in bloom. Men, women and children picked, using both hands to hurry the work. Some picked in Negro cloth, their raw product returning to them by way of New England mills. Some picked completely naked. Young children ran water across the humped rows, while overseers peered down from horses.