by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Four hundred years ago this month, a group of courageous Pilgrims crossed the Atlantic on a ship seasoned from years of service in the English Channel to arrive in America. Their ship was the Mayflower. On it, it bore a people with characteristics — bold, daring, foolish, devout — essential to the founding of a new nation that would become the envy of the world.
The 1620 Project is about understanding how all these characteristics are essential to understanding the American founding, and how they provided the basis for so much of what makes this nation great. It features the writings of prominent intellectuals, academics, and historians on the importance of 1620 to our understanding of who we were and who we are.
First, a word on what this project is not. It is not intended to serve primarily as a direct refutation of The New York Times’s 1619 Project, or of its award-winning and controversial creator, Nikole Hannah-Jones, because both are self-refuting. When you assemble an entire project around the idea that preserving slavery was the primary motivation for the American Revolution, and around the audacious claim that “our true founding is 1619 not 1776,” then subsequently retract or eliminate both claims while pretending they were never made, there is little more to be done to build on such a gigantic acknowledgment of error. …
… Instead, what this project proposes is that we ought to appreciate the truth about 1620 amidst a time of constant historical revisionism: that it represents not just a convenient myth about the nation, but something that was essential to our founding.
We find that in the risk-taking character in the people who crossed the dark waves of the Atlantic, mindful of all the courage it would take to navigate a new world filled with enormous potential for disease and death.