JAMESTOWN, Virginia — Walking the grounds here on the coast of the James River where the English first landed in 1607 is a rich lesson in America’s almost lost history.
The history lesson continues as one drives along the Colonial Parkway connecting Jamestown with Yorktown and Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg. Each place offers up its own lesson on the American experience from discovery to establishment to independence.
For it was in Jamestown and then Williamsburg, both one-time colonial capitals of Virginia, where the early English colonists introduced not only representative government — at the time, elections and self-government (albeit much more limited than today) were unknown outside the English-speaking world — but also the common law. These were the principles that motivated the heirs of the colonists who ventured to the New World — the Founding Fathers and so many other great men, whose names have been lost to history — to fight against the king.
Their revolution for the liberties and freedoms they believed were rightfully theirs as Englishmen ended in Yorktown, when the Americans under George Washington achieved a decisive victory over their British cousins in 1781. Today the battlefield is a national park, allowing one to look upon the battlefield from the earthworks and redoubts where America’s independence was won with musket, bayonet and cannon.
All of this history was once taught, but not anymore. Sadly, too many children grow up and go through high school or college without even an elementary understanding of America’s history. In the long run, this undermines the republic, which is dependent upon an informed citizenry.
What used to be taught in a high school history class is hardly covered during a semester of a multi-discipline social studies class. As for college, few schools require a history or civics class. At the same time, many do require pointless classes on multiculturalism, diversity, gender studies and queer studies that are little more than Mao-inspired re-education.
This would explain why the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s Civic Literacy Report has consistently found over recent years that most students actually graduate college with less knowledge of basic history and civics than when they started their so-called higher education.
And when the colonial period does somehow get mentioned in the classroom it’s almost always a very revisionist, left-wing narrative that focuses on condemning everything that made America the greatest country in the history of mankind.
In this twisted view of history, America’s success is a byproduct of oppression against Indians, blacks and women. (President Barack Obama’s old parson, the notorious Rev. Jeremiah Wright, summed up this view of history best, saying: “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”)
Thankfully, the epicenter of America’s history is easy enough to visit for those wanting to learn.
But visiting requires one to actually know they are missing critical knowledge.
After all, it’s kind of difficult to visit Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg if you don’t even know the three exist in the first place.
— Dennis Lennox