Our Shared History Is Based On Fact

Thomas F Campenni
5 min readJul 17, 2021

Elected officials pretend that they want the “real” American history taught in schools.

They then do everything possible to make sure that it is only their brand of history. Yet, facts are facts and trying to put a political slant on them shows how insincere their desire really is. In educating our children, there should be no hiding the truth. And truth is not open to alternate interpretations.

One of these truths is that 70% of the Declaration of Independence signers were slave holders including Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia and John Hancock of Boston. Slavery was legal in all 13 colonies in 1776.

Lincoln was our 16th president and never owned slaves. 10 of his predecessors did own slaves at some point in their lives (Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, Polk, and Taylor). 5 never had slaves (Adams, Quincy Adams, Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan). And 2 presidents who succeeded Lincoln were at one point slave holders (Johnson and Grant).

Those are the facts. It needs to be taught in the schools because as you can see slavery was not confined to the plantations of the south. You cannot pussy foot around these facts whether you call it critical race theory or not, which it is not. The way Africans were brought here is part of our heritage and explains much of our present.

The truth in no way diminishes the founding of this country based on high ideals of equality. The American way, like that of religion, is more of a set of goals to aspire to achieving rather than absolutes. Washington, Jefferson, and the rest of the Founders wrestled with the morality of slavery. They saw the inconsistencies of aspiring to “all men are created equal” and keeping some of them as property with no God given rights. By the way, without the same amount of barbaric cruelty white women were assigned to other than equal status.

Washington wrote letters to his overseers on how to discipline slaves including whippings and other punishments. Jefferson took a more nuanced approach and, like many masters at the time, was not averse to sleeping with his “chattel.” I doubt it mattered to Jefferson whether Sally Hemings wanted to share his bed or not.

Civics education has become a code word for the “right way” to learn American History and how our government operates in our hyper politicized age. Some of the most hard-fought battles are over which textbooks to use…

Thomas F Campenni

Currently lives in Stuart Florida and former City Commissioner. His career has been as a commercial real estate owner, broker and manger in New York City.