Re the NYT’s “1619 Project”

by Don Boudreaux on November 22, 2019

in Doux Commerce, History, Myths and Fallacies

I happened just now, quite by accident, to run across this Quotation of the Day from September 4th, 2011. I post it again here given the bad history that today seems to be all the rage:

Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 126 of David Freeman Hawke’s 1988 book, Everyday Life in Early America; here Hawke is writing about the 17th century:

Peter H. Wood found little discrimination in early South Carolina.  “Common hardships and the continuing shortage of hands,” he writes [in 1974], “put the different races, as well as separate sexes, upon a more equal footing than they would see in subsequent generations.”  Many scholars now conclude that discrimination set in only during the last quarter of the century when a “series of court decisions and statutes began closing the gates of freedom along racial lines,” changes that finally became codified in Virginia’s slave code of 1705.

Other scholars who’ve contributed important research along these lines include Robert Higgs – especially his 1976 book Competition and Coercion: Blacks in the American Economy, 1865-1914 – and my former GMU Econ colleage Jennifer Roback-Morse.

Sovereign-state power and legislation can be very dangerous institutions.

UPDATE: Here’s a short note from Phil Magness, who reacted on Facebook to the above post:

Note that the state is conspicuously absent as a discriminatory institution in the 1619 project.


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