The Real Purpose of the 1619 Project (UPDATED)

Posted: August 24, 2019 by julietteochieng in opinion/news
Tags: , , , , , ,

Like always.

Title of the Project is wrong, not to mention the Premise 

by baldilocks

From Lyman Stone at the Federalist on New York Times 1619 Project.

1619 is commonly cited as the date slavery first arrived in “America.” No matter that historians mostly consider the 1619 date a red herring. Enslaved people were working in English Bermuda in 1616. Spanish colonies and forts in today’s Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina had enslaved Africans throughout the mid-to-late 1500s: in fact, a slave rebellion in 1526 helped end the Spanish attempt at settling South Carolina.

The presence of Spanish power continued to inhibit English settlement of the deep south basically until the Revolutionary War. In some sense, the 1526 San Miguel de Guadeloupe rebellion cleared the way for English settlement of South Carolina.


But before 1526, slavery was already ongoing in the eventual United States. The earliest slave society in our present country, and our most recent slavery society, was in Puerto Rico. The island’s Spanish overlords were enslaving the Taino natives by 1500. By 1513, the Taino population had shrunk dramatically due to brutal violence and disease. Thus, Spain brought the first African slaves to Puerto Rico.

Chattel slavery in Puerto Rico continued, despite many “Royal Graces” easing life for free blacks and sometimes promising eventual emancipation, until 1873. Even then, slaves had to buy their own liberty. It’s not clear when the last slave was free in Puerto Rico, but it would still have been a fresh memory in 1898 when the United States gained control from Spain.

Slavery in America did not begin in 1619. It began in 1513. Any argument for a 1619 date implicitly suggests that the American project is an inherently Anglo project: that other regions, like Texas, California, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico, have subordinate histories that aren’t really, truly, equal as American origin stories.

But even if the title were correct, what’s the true propose of this project? Stone gives the answer earlier in the piece.

It isn’t mostly about helping Americans understand the role played by plantation agriculture in American history. It’s mostly about convincing Americans that “America” and “slavery” are essentially synonyms.

Previously, I’ve discussed the Civil War and whether (or not) present-day black Americans should be grateful to our country and to those who fought on the Union side. A lot of people didn’t like my conclusion.

True freedom fighters have the clean conscious of God. May that be enough for them.

And at the same time, however, this country has no need to pay for its past sins. This very same Civil War was America’s trial by fire, its conviction, and its sentence — something that American leaders chose.

But, it seems as if all too many are intent on keeping everyone angry about hardships none of them had to bear. All the New York Times want to do is make itself the drum major of the anger and vengeance parade.

And what if America and slavery are synonymous? What then? Oh, yes, reparations.

Reparations, just like every other government program, will become just another cistern for politicians to wet their beaks. How do you think they all get rich?

Because that’s the true purpose of all this — to create another means for our money to become theirs.

By the way, what about those Spaniards?

UPDATE: For some strange reason, people seem to think I’m unaware of the world history of slavery. I am not.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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  1. Steve White says:

    Good post. There was also slavery in the early 1600s in the English colonies in America; the slaves were Irish men and more so women brought here. That ended because it turned out to be cheaper for those who wanted slaves to get slaves from Africa.

    None of this mitigates what was done to African peoples enslaved and sent to North, Central and South America. But it does help to illustrate your point about slavery in the New World.

  2. Grey says:

    Slavery on the continent of North America predates the arrival of Columbus, let alone the arrival of Africans. The Aztecs kept slaves, the Tlingit crushed slaves under poles when building clan houses, and even the Powhatan (Pocahontas’ people) might have kept slaves.

  3. effinayright says:

    There’s also the insane attempt to associate slavery with American capitalism and the country’s rise to wealth and power.

    Bloody nonsense. Capitalism started with 15th century European bankers and banks, then with the rise of the Dutch and English stock companies that organized and funded voyages to India and the East Indies in search of spices. Slavery had nothing to do with those enterprises.

    By far MOST African slaves went to Brazil and the Caribbean. Yet those regions remained relatively poor when compared to the United States, right up to the present day.

    Bottom line: slavery is neither an necessary nor sufficient condition of capitalism.

  4. William Hepfer says:

    “What about those Spaniards?” They would include AOC’s ancestors.

  5. Kevin says:

    The Native American tribes in the future US also enslaved each other well before the arrival of Europeans or Africans.

  6. David D says:

    Slavery in the Western Hemishere was quite common when Christopher Columbus showed up.

  7. No Cause for Indictment says:

    Sure, there should be reparations for slavery… paid for entirely by Democrats. They were the party that supported slavery before the Civil War. If the country is going to be forced to rehash things that happened 150 years ago, we might as well place the blame where it belonged in that time frame.

  8. Peter B says:

    Yes, let’s consider the Civil War. Lincoln said in his Second Inaugural Address:

    “If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came…”

    So it’s fair to use the blood shed on both sides to do the accounting, to see whether “every drop of blood drawn with the lash” might indeed have been “paid by another drawn with the sword.”

    A commonly cited figure for soldiers on both sides of the Civil War is just under 620,000 men died in battle or of disease. In reality, that figure is too low and should be more like 750,000* or even higher.

    There were just under 4 million slaves recorded in the US 1860 US Census; as Lincoln said, about 1/8 of the total US population of 31 million.

    But let’s use that low number of 620,000 combined Civil War deaths for a moment.

    4,000,000 slaves divided by 620,000 dead. More than one soldier died, North and South, for every seven slaves in the country at the beginning of the war. If we use the 750,000 number below, it’s more than one dead for every six slaves.


    Dr. J. David Hacker of Binghamton University has used census data to develop a better estimate of the number of soldiers lost in the Civil War. Basically, he compared the number of 20-30 year old males in the 1860 census to the number of 30-40 year old males in the 1870 census. By doing this, he was able to see how many had died in this time period. His estimate loses some accuracy; because, he was forced to make several assumptions due to inconsistent census taking and issues such as immigrants and foreign-born soldiers not being properly accounted for. Also, he had to correct for factors such as natural death rates from disease, etc. Despite these issues, his results are astounding…
    His new estimate puts the number of men killed in Civil War at between 650,000 and 850,000. With this range, Dr. Hacker has settled on a rough estimate of 750,000 men killed in the American Civil War.
    There are two main issues that his method cannot address. The first is civilian Civil War casualties which most historians would agree are badly underestimated. Secondly, his method does not allow him to make any estimates concerning how many of these Civil War deaths should be attributed to each side. Since people from both countries fought for the opposing armies, census data can not really show how many losses came from each army…

  9. crawford421 says:

    “Slavery in America did not begin in 1619. It began in 1513. ”

    Both dates are off by thousands of years; slavery was a native practice long before Europeans arrived. The Crow Creek Massacre site had gaps in the population found slaughtered there: females around the age of puberty. The killing and scalping of the rest of their village’s population didn’t likely lead to their living free and marrying who they chose. Oh, and this site predates Columbus by about 100 years, so it demolishes the claims Europeans introduced scalping.

    There’s another mass grave at Cahokia, the largest pre-Columbian settlement in eastern North America, that contains only females in their late teens or early twenties. Based on isotope analysis of their teeth, they came from other regions, some hundreds of miles away — in a society that had no wheel, no draft animals, only the rivers and small boats. They MAY have been willing sacrifices, but as modern leftism considers heterosexuality “oppressive”, being convinced by religion or society to let someone slit your throat and throw you into a mass grave should qualify as well.

  10. warriorarz says:

    There was NO USA back in 1619 or anytime prior to the end of the revolution, and the ratification of a constitution formally bringing the government into being. Prior to THAT TIME, the EUROPEAN powers were the ones involved in the Atlantic slave trade bringing slaves to THEIR colonies.

  11. Bryan Frymire says:


  12. Don says:

    Blah, blah, blah…..more BS about slavery. It was here long before we got here and yes, some of it was done by foreigners who came here BEFORE we were an established country. Not only that many black whine about us when, if fact, it was long practiced way back into the BC years by their own ancestors yet they want to whine about reparations. Mayhap you should pay for YOUR ancestors works first……OR grow up and shut up since none of us ever owned a slave in the last, say…150 plus years.

  13. Tell it to the New York Times.

    Also, a re-read on your part might be in order.

  14. Kevin McClain says:

    Another post well said and well written

  15. David L. says:

    If you want to go further back in history, slavery existed in the Americas, North, South, and Central, before Columbus left Spain, practiced in a whole lot of Mesoamerican cultures.

    In fact, slavery existed pretty much everywhere in the world in 1492, and continued that way up until Western Christian nations, led by Great Britain (back when they were still actually Great), and followed by the United States and others, decided to end, first the overseas slave trade, and then slavery itself in territories they controlled.

  16. See: Old Testament.

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