The 1776 Commission, also known as the 1776 Project, was an advisory committee established in September 2020 by President Donald Trump to support what he called “patriotic education”. The commission released The 1776 Report on January 18, 2021, two days before the end of Trump’s term. Academic Historians overwhelmingly criticized the report, saying it was “filled with errors and partisan politics”. The commission was terminated by President Joe Biden on January 20, 2021. We have read the report and found it to be a fair and informative recounting of history. The current administration has their reasons to oppose “Patriotic Education”, but we offer this for you to read and judge for yourself.
The primary duty of schools is to teach students the basic skills needed to function in society, such as reading, writing, and mathematics. As discussed in Appendix IV, our founders also recognized a second and essential task: educators must convey a sense of enlightened patriotism that equips each generation with a knowledge of America’s founding principles, a deep reverence for their liberties, and a profound love of their country.
Make no mistake: The love we are talking about is something different from romantic or familial love, something that cannot be imposed by teachers or schools or government edicts, least of all in a free country. Like any love worthy of the name, it must be embraced freely and be strong and unsentimental enough to coexist with the elements of disappointment, criticism, dissent, opposition, and even shame that come with moral maturity and open eyes. But it is love all the same, and without the deep foundation it supplies, our republic will perish.
State and local governments—not the federal government—are responsible for adopting curricula that teach children the principles that unite, inspire, and ennoble all Americans. This includes lessons on the Revolutionary War, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitutional Convention. Educators should teach an accurate history of how the permanent principles of America’s founding have been challenged and preserved since 1776. By studying America’s true heritage, students learn to embrace and preserve the triumphs of their forefathers while identifying and avoiding their mistakes.
States and school districts should reject any curriculum that promotes one-sided partisan opinions, activist propaganda, or factional ideologies that demean America’s heritage, dishonor our heroes, or deny our principles. Any time teachers or administrators promote political agendas in the classroom, they abuse their platform and dishonor every family who trusts them with their children’s education and moral development.
“Law and liberty cannot rationally become the object of our love,” wrote founding father James Wilson, “unless they first become the objects of our knowledge.” Students who are taught to understand America’s exceptional principles and America’s powerful history grow into strong citizens who respect the rule of law and protect the country they know and love.
A Scholarship of Freedom
Universities in the United States are often today hotbeds of anti-Americanism, libel, and censorship that combine to generate in students and in the broader culture at the very least disdain and at worst outright hatred for this country.
The founders insisted that universities should be at the core of preserving American republicanism by instructing students and future leaders of its true basis and instilling in them not just an understanding but a reverence for its principles and core documents. Today, our higher education system does almost the precise opposite. Colleges peddle resentment and contempt for American principles and history alike, in the process weakening attachment to our shared heritage.
In order to build up a healthy, united citizenry, scholars, students, and all Americans must reject false and fashionable ideologies that obscure facts, ignore historical context, and tell America’s story solely as one of oppression and victimhood rather than one of imperfection but also unprecedented achievement toward freedom, happiness, and fairness for all. Historical revisionism that tramples honest scholarship and historical truth, shames Americans by highlighting only the sins of their ancestors, and teaches claims of systemic racism that can only be eliminated by more discrimination, is an ideology intended to manipulate opinions more than educate minds.
Deliberately destructive scholarship shatters the civic bonds that unite all Americans. It silences the discourse essential to a free society by breeding division, distrust, and hatred among citizens. And it is the intellectual force behind so much of the violence in our cities, suppression of free speech in our universities, and defamation of our treasured national statues and symbols.
To restore our society, academics must return to their vocation of relentlessly pursuing the truth and engaging in honest scholarship that seeks to understand the world and America’s place in it.