Preserving America's Historical Significance

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FIRST PRINCIPLES PRESS NEWS & BLOG

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 Integral to its mission, First Principles publishes articles and press releases, combs news media outlets for current events, presents research and educational materials to a wide variety of audiences, and houses a vast archive of historical documents and quotations. Check back here regularly for what’s new at FPP.
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Hard Work: Even More American Than Apple Pie

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Is apple pie really as American as everyone says it is? Probably not.

When something is loved and celebrated enough by a certain culture, it will likely come to be heavily associated with that culture—like apple pie is now associated with American culture. However, pie is not the only thing we have come to celebrate in this country since its founding. We are proud of our freedom, our military, our progress, and our hard working citizens. At first glance, it is easy to ask whether today’s America is really as hardworking as the America we once were. This is an easy question to ask, but perhaps not an easy question to answer.

George Washington, our first president, was appointed official surveyor for Culpeper County when he was just seventeen. This was a position that carried with it significant responsibility and good wages. Paul Revere, famous for his midnight ride during the American Revolution, developed a successful post-war ironwork business. This was an expansion of his existing silversmith outfit. America’s history is filled with similar stories of entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial success.

Today we have access to exponentially better education and infrastructure—resources that should make sustainable business growth easier than ever before. However, these amenities also come with a more saturated market and fiercer competition. Regardless of the way these changes affect business owners, they certainly have major affects on the consumer, as well. When large corporations supply the majority of commodities needed to survive, consumers no longer have to be as industrious on an individual level. Specialized skills become more important than diverse skills, changing cultural norms.

Although this shift is not inherently bad, it could mean a decrease in innovative ventures. Disruption caused by low-capital startups can be extremely healthy for the economy and consumers. There is certainly plenty of this going on in Silicon Valley, with companies like Pinterest and Uber shaking things up, to much acclaim. However, startup culture should extend beyond software, and beyond the Pacific Northwest.

There are many initiatives focused on forming entrepreneurial tendencies in American youth. Initiatives like the Thiel FellowshipIntel’s International Science and Engineering Fair, and Foundation Capital’s Young Entrepreneurship Program  Make no mistake, networking and exposure are important, but there are some virtues vital to success that are not often the focus of startup incubators. These include patience, integrity, and honor. 

Photo: www.nwlink.com

Success is often about well-roundedness, and it is our responsibility to rear a well-rounded youth. When multi-tasking is inevitable, we should teach focus. When efficiency is paramount, we should also stress quality. When times get tough, we should teach thriftiness. It is up to us to prepare our children for a diverse future—a future not wholly secured by corporations or government

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Victory Gardens Revisited

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During World War II, widespread food shortages in America were common because much of the commercial agricultural force was sent off to war. Thus, food was rationed by the government. In order to help expand the amount of food available for Americans as well as keep the prices of produce down, pamphlets and posters were printed by the Department of Agriculture telling the people to start growing their own gardens. The idea began during World War I when Charles Lathrop Pack organized the U.S. National War Garden Commission which launched the war garden campaign in 1917, but the efforts needed to be expanded. The new campaign was christened “Victory Gardens.” The name of the program alone was a great way to spark interest and motivate people to start digging.

Americans were urged to plant crops in any idle land, including back yards, empty lots, parks, school land, and company grounds. Included in the pamphlets was information on how to deal with pests and insects so that the gardens would be more productive. A twenty-minute movie promoting planting gardens and explaining the best way to do so was issued by the same department. In addition to growing the crops, it was suggested that they can their own fruits and veggies so that they wouldn’t go to waste.

In what remained in the commercial agricultural realm, the department pushed keeping logs for seed germination, insects, and any diseases they found in or on the plants. Popular crops included squash, tomatoes, turnips, peas, and lettuce. Even the First Lady of the time, Eleanor Roosevelt planted a Victory Garden on the White House grounds offering an example American women wanted to follow.

Photo: Smithsonian

The combined efforts of the American people produced more than 40 percent of the fresh fruit and vegetables consumed in the United States. This one idea increased morale, allowed the War department to save money on crops, and produced a sense of comradery among all Americans. Perhaps revisiting this idea would help Americans today have victory over the high prices of food due to droughts and other natural disasters, support local agriculture and communities, become self-sufficient and enjoy home grown food once again.

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Redacted: Censorship of an Entire Nation’s Story

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Good citizenship and U.S. History absolutely go hand-in-hand. It is difficult to understand what being an American citizen means without first understanding how America was forged into what it is now. Training children to be dedicated, responsible citizens is vital to our sustainability. Therefore, it is important to protect their history education.

That education is at risk with a new framework for U.S. History being introduced by the College Board—a framework that is both detailed and incomplete. In its 98 pages of guidelines, the new framework neglects to mention important founding fathers like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Instead, it outlines lessons on subjects like race, ethnicity, gender, and class.

If allowed a full view of the framework’s content, the public might be able to make an informed decision as to whether they should support or oppose the change. However, the majority of its contents are being carefully guarded from public eyes. College Board went so far as to threaten certified AP teachers, who received a full sample exam, with legal recourse if they were to disclose information about the exam.

Some omissions that have been confirmed include the assassination of President Lincoln, D-Day, the Holocaust, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and any mention of military commanders or heroes. Without mention of important people and events like these, how are students supposed to appreciate the legacies of their ancestors, or the lushness of their own lives?

Texas School Board member Ken Mercer is taking a stand against the new framework, attempting to battle it at the state level. However, his efforts are currently being stonewalled by protocol. The resistance will be allowed to pickup steam in September. If Texas, or another state, were to reject the framework, its survival would be uncertain.

It is imperative that families oppose the new College Board AP U.S. History framework, and demand that true American history be taught to their children. Without public outcry, leftist measures like these will continue to be implemented in our schools.

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America’s Shame?

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In the movie America:  Imagine the World Without Her, writer and producer Dinesh D’Souza addresses many of the accusations raised by members of leftist groups who attack the heritage of America.  Such groups accuse America of being an imperialistic nation built on slavery, theft, and conquest.  Going back to Columbus, leftists ask, Didn’t Columbus enslave over 500 Native Americans and take them back to Portugal with him?  The answer is Yes, but that had nothing to do with the United States of America.  The discovery of this New World may have given the Pilgrims a place to land, but it does not mean the acts of the discoverer are the fault of those who came after.

Well, they may reply, Americans stole land from the Native Americans.  That is true—acquisition of the Black Hills by way of the February Act of 1877 was in direct opposition to the Fort Laramie Treaty signed in 1851.  Tribal lawyer Richard Case presented this argument starting in the 1920s.  Then in 1956, attorneys Marvin Sonosky and Arthur Lazarus took over the case ending with victory in the 1980s.  The United States supreme Court planned to award the Sioux Nation 105 million dollars as compensation.  However, the Sioux Nation rejected the award because they feared in so doing they would officially be selling their land. This manifests that the United States government attempted to right an unjustified decision made many years before.

Leftists also tend to point out that America gained quite a bit of land as a result of the Mexican American War.  However, they fail to mention that the United States believed it had been attacked on its own soil.  The government claimed that U.S. territory lead all the way to the Rio Grande, citing the Treaties of Velasco.  They sent a secret representative, John Slidell, to Mexico City to insure the Rio Grande was the border of U.Ss territory and to purchase California.  Mexico was in no shape to negotiate, as the presidency and other ministries had each changed hands four times in 1846. The Mexicans considered Slidell’s presence an insult.  Slidell thought Mexico should be chastised and returned to the confirmed U.S. territories.  President James Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor to move his forces south to the Rio Grande.  This resulted in the Thornton Affair where Mexican soldiers attacked a patrol and killed 16 American soldiers.  The war began May 13, 1846, with America rising as the victor two years later.  Even though they decimated the Mexican forces, the- U.S. returned a little over half of Mexico’s land, paying a little less than half of the original offer.

The bottom line is that many times facts are hyperbolized for the purpose of twisting us against our own country.  With a little clarification, one can see that America is not always the villain it is often painted to be by those intending to remove our liberties.

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