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Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Date: March 13, 2007
Byline: Robert M. Morris

Commentary: Historical record was cherry-picked for a PC moment.

The National Park Service has chosen a design for the memorial on the spot now known as the "President's House." Before being known by that name, this site had been known for more than 200 years as the location of Robert Morris' mansion. Morris, often called the "Financier of the Revolution," helped form this nation's banking and defense systems. But he and his life's work of creating economic freedom for all Americans have been unceremoniously shoved aside.

The planned memorial will not tell us about Morris' role in the origins of American-style free-market capitalism or his critical leadership of the Continental Navy during most of the Revolutionary War. We will not learn about his struggles to keep America together during Confederation. Instead, we will be treated to the politically correct message "Freedom and Slavery in Making a New Nation," the subtitle of the memorial project.

Although Washington did keep slaves when he resided at the house, others who occupied the house did not. John Adams was virulently antislavery — but never mind such inconvenient details; after all, here was a perfect opportunity to make a negative statement about America, right in Independence Mall. To realize that part of the agenda, a decision was made to cherry-pick the record to create a memorial to slavery. And to ignore the fact that slavery was not unique to the site, or to America, for that matter, because it existed everywhere in the world while Washington was president.

To achieve their goal, activists had to get others to ignore what Morris helped achieve: development of the executive branch of government, establishment of the rule of law, the transition from a near-feudal economic model to a more modern economy, and other topics that touch the lives of all Americans. To do this, they relied on Americans' ignorance of history, loudly proclaiming that they were shocked, shocked to learn that a Southern planter had slaves, and in his house no less! They drew attention to the cook, the stable man and maid — who were forced to live in the best house in town. They set out to embarrass George Washington.

None of this was an accident. The only mayor in America to be elected because his office was under investigation by the FBI, Mayor Street, said in his November 2005 address that he wanted to point out the hypocrisy of America. In that spirit, those driving this memorial are purveyors of partisan history, using the best tools at their disposal: white guilt, demagoguery, and, on occasion, intimidation.

Why would this be their course? Michael Coard, a lawyer, founder of a group called Avenging the Ancestors Coalition and a key player in this effort, said it best when he was quoted in the April 8, 2003, issue of the Philadelphia Tribune: "From my standpoint, generally, this whole issue about this commemorative project is part of the whole reparations movement... . Reparations, meaning to make whole or repair. That's what America owes black people."

What America actually "owes" black people is a balanced version of U.S. history, not a politically correct set piece dished up by activists and blessed by the National Park Service. America owes black people the same thing it owes everyone else: an honest shot at real opportunity. One of the stories not told at the President's House will be the genesis of those opportunities — ones all Americans rightfully take as their birthright. Visitors will not learn the source of America's success and the power of economic freedom, American-style. Instead they will learn how to be enslaved and how to blame others.

Now Slavery Mall is on the way. I hope you enjoy it when current and future generations learn about George Washington as "slaver in chief."

Robert M. Morris is a descendant of Robert Morris, who signed the Declaration of Independence and owned the structure known as "President's House"

 

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