The Transylvania Times -

Fascinating Book Review


Last updated 3/2/2020 at 2:58pm

I was fascinated by a book review in the Feb. 22-23 issue of the Wall Street Journal of a book by Cornell University Professor of History Mary Beth Norton entitled “1774: The Long Year of Revolution.” What caught my attention was a description of the 1619 Project of the New York Times, which was designed to revise the teaching of American history in schools. One of the claims in the 1619 Project of the Times was that one of the primary reasons the Americans decided to declare independence from Great Britain in 1776 was to protect the institution of slavery.

To back up this claim, the editor of the N.Y. Times Magazine, where the project first appeared, cited the November 1775 proclamation of Lord Dunsmore, the royal Governor of Virginia, offering freedom to any enslaved person fleeing to the British army. To confirm the importance of this proclamation, the editor quoted from historian Jill Lepore’s recent history of the United States: “Not the taxes and the tea, not the shots at Lexington and Concord, not the siege of Boston; rather, it was this act, Dunsmore’s offer of freedom to slaves, that tipped the scales in favor of American independence.”

Norton’s book suggests otherwise. Her account of “1774” shows the scales had been tipped in favor of independence long before Dunsmore issued his proclamation. The reviewer of Norton’s book goes into detail about the amount of detail Norton’s research elicited, even going into the kind of tea that was thrown into Boston Harbor.

The reviewer concludes by stating that Professor Norton makes clear that in 1774 Americans had already, in fact, become independent, and that never once in her detailed account does she declare that the protection of slavery had anything to do with bringing about that independence.

What is disturbing to me after reading the review of Professor Norton’s book, are the efforts by the left to re-write history, and to teach it in a distorted and dishonest manner so that impressionable young students in high schools and colleges will no longer be proud of our history of our country.

Bob Youngerman


(Editor’s Note: According to the New York Times, “The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”)


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