The Association of University Presses notes yesterday’s release of the Report of the outgoing presidential administration’s so-called “1776 Commission.” While we leave it to historians to offer a detailed rebuttal of the document’s inaccuracies – if any should choose to do so – we note that it is plagued by procedural deficiencies that would render it unpublishable as a serious work of scholarship. It omits citations to any authority, fails to credit or note permissions for its re-used content or images, and was produced without sufficient time for adequate peer review. The hurried release of this report in the waning days of an administration, and on a day marked to honor the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr., someone who grappled deeply with the failures and promises of the American project, simply underscores a process designed to produce propaganda, not truth or reckoning.
January 20, 2021: Shortly after his inauguration today, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. signed a number of executive orders, including one that disbanded the 1776 Commission, which had been created in fall 2020 with a two-year term. Its report will, of course, remain in the White House Archives, as a document of interest to scholarly historians, but its potential to distort US education policy or the teaching of American history is greatly diminished.
Also, AUPresses joined the American Historical Association (AHA), whose publishing program is an AUPresses member, in condemning the report for “fail[ing] to engage a rich and vibrant body of scholarship that has evolved over the last seven decades.” The AHA statement adds that the report “call[s] for a form of government indoctrination of American students, and in the process elevate ignorance about the past to a civic virtue.” Read the full AHA statement here >