Former pres­ident Donald Trump announced the cre­ation of the 1776 Com­mission during Con­sti­tution Day 2020. | Flickr

Just three days after the 1776 Com­mission released its report on “patriotic edu­cation,” Pres­ident Joe Biden has dis­solved the com­mittee, according to the Hill. 

Estab­lished last year by former Pres­ident Donald Trump, the panel was chaired by Hillsdale College Pres­ident Larry Arnn. Its exec­utive director was Hillsdale in D.C. Vice Pres­ident Matthew Spalding. 

“The 1776 Report calls for a return to the uni­fying ideals stated in the Dec­la­ration of Inde­pen­dence,” said Arnn and Spalding in a statement on Wednesday, along with Vice Chair Carol Swain. “It quotes the greatest Amer­icans, black and white, men and women, in devotion to these ideals. The Com­mission may be abol­ished, but these prin­ciples and our history cannot be. We will all con­tinue to work together to teach and to defend them.”

The group was tasked with issuing a report in response to the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which dates America’s founding to the arrival of the first slave ship in North America and argues that America is an irre­deemably racist nation. The 45-page report was pub­lished Jan.18. 

According to Spalding, the 1776 Report aims to describe the decline of American edu­cation, argues for authentic edu­cation, and describes what a genuine civics course would look like.

“The report makes a pow­erful argument for America’s founding prin­ciples and an honest history of those prin­ciples and our country as the path to a renewed American unity,” Spalding told the Col­legian in an email. “These prin­ciples and this country are our inher­i­tance. If we do not under­stand our first prin­ciples, pre­serve them, and pass them along, our country as we know it will perish.” 

A fact sheet for the 1776 Com­mission says the report is com­mitted to “cul­ti­vating an honest love for our country,” calls for “teaching the truth about America’s founding and history,” and urges Amer­icans to “appeal to our founding prin­ciples” rather than abandon its truths.

“It is our mission — all of us — to restore our national unity by rekin­dling a brave and honest love for our country and by raising new gen­er­a­tions of cit­izens who not only know the self-evident truths of our founding, but act worthy of them,” the report states.

Wilfred McClay, author of the history textbook “Land of Hope: An Invi­tation to the Great American Story” and an incoming history pro­fessor at Hillsdale College, described the report as “very well and art­fully done.”

“Unlike many gov­ernment doc­u­ments and com­mission reports, it focuses like a laser on the most important aspects of the dis­tinctive American legacy,” McClay said in an email. “It gives attention not only to American prin­ciples but also to our American history, and I like that about it very much.”

McClay empha­sized that the report is not a pro­pa­gan­distic or jin­go­istic retelling of history.

“The authors of the report have been frank about the nation’s past failings, and par­tic­u­larly the ways it has failed to live up to its ideals,” he said. “But they also have not hes­i­tated to emphasize the nation’s suc­cesses, not the least of which is the estab­lishment of those very ideals, in a nation con­sciously ded­i­cated to their ven­er­ation and realization.”

Nonetheless, the report earned quick con­dem­na­tions from the main­stream media. In a headline on its website, CNN labeled the report a “racist school cur­riculum.” The New York Times called it a “sweeping attack on liberal thought and activism.” 

“The commission’s report depicts a nation where lib­erals are seething with hatred for their own country, and whose divi­sions over its history and meaning recall those leading to the American Rev­o­lution and the Civil War,” wrote Times reporters Michael Crowley and Jen­nifer Schuessler. “It por­trays an America whose insti­tu­tions have been infil­trated by leftist rad­icals whose views echo those of recent total­i­tarian move­ments and argues that pro­gres­sives have created, in the so-called admin­is­trative state, an unchecked ‘fourth branch’ or ‘shadow government.’”

The Times reporters write that the com­mission includes “no pro­fes­sional his­to­rians,” even though Victor Davis Hanson, Wayne and Marcia Buske Dis­tin­guished Fellow in History at Hillsdale College and the author of many books on mil­itary history, was among its members. Its other aca­d­emics included Charles Kesler, of Claremont McKenna College, and Thomas Lindsay, former pres­ident of Shimer College.

The report has also become a target of the incoming pres­ident. According to the Hill, the Biden-Harris tran­sition team issued a statement Wednesday regarding the president’s plans to dis­solve the com­mission and accused it of trying to “erase America’s history of racial injustice.” 

 While the 1776 Com­mission may be on its way out, McClay argued that there is plenty of oppor­tunity for Amer­icans to take the reins and con­tinue its mission. 

“Pres­i­dential com­mis­sions can do a lot, but so can local com­mu­nities, local his­torical soci­eties, and ordinary cit­izens,” he said. “This is not ulti­mately some­thing merely ide­o­logical. A more vibrant sense of history and its impor­tance has to do with the way we live. Cul­ti­vating it is a job for all of us.”

Spalding con­curred.

“The com­mission and its work will con­tinue, in some form or another,” he said. “It is too important.”