The disappearance was cheered by professional historians and large swaths of the population. The Trump administration’s commission was “a hack job” reflecting a “clumsy partisan intent,” argued two leading historians. It was a history written by nonhistorians that was responsible for “obscuring facts and ignoring historical context.” The American Historical Association called the report “a simplistic interpretation that relies on falsehoods, inaccuracies, omissions and misleading statements.”
But a thorough, historian-led, nonpartisan commission on the founding isn’t such a bad idea. These kinds of history-driven government initiatives, when done right, have in the past been useful tools for fostering unity and promoting civic responsibility—two things America is badly in need of today. If Biden wants to promote his call for “unity” and respond “to the call of history,” as he said in his inaugural address, he can offer no stronger foundation than a new, improved government-led project to provide a factual foundation of America’s origins and a nonpartisan discussion of our founding ideals.
There is a case for doing history right, rather than making it serve current political goals.