1776 Commission Chairman: The Founding Principles Offer the Only Hope of National Unity

January 21, 2021 Updated: January 23, 2021

The 1776 Commission’s first and last report, despite being banished by the Biden administration, will endure because it upholds the founding principles of the United States, the advisory commission’s chairman said.

The 1776 Commission, appointed by President Donald Trump for two years, was tasked with producing a report on the nation’s founding principles while providing guidance on how the federal government could promote those principles in public education. It is commonly seen as a counter to The New York Times’ 1619 Project, which has been pushed by educators who teach the American story as one that’s based upon racial oppression.

In one of his first actions as president, Joe Biden dissolved the 1776 Commission and tossed what’s known as the 1776 Report, just two days after its publication. The Biden Administration claimed in a press release Wednesday that the commission “has sought to erase America’s history of racial injustice.”

The 1776 Commission’s chairman, Larry P. Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, issued a statement along with Vice Chair Carol Swain and Executive Director Matthew Spalding, saying that the 1776 Report merely called for a return of ideas that bound Americans together as a nation.

“The report calls for a return to the unifying principles stated in the Declaration of Independence,” Arnn wrote. “It quotes the greatest Americans, black and white, men and women, in devotion to these principles. It acknowledges the many ways we have fallen short of them even as it celebrates, following Abraham Lincoln, the influence for good that they exercised to the benefit of all.”

“It acknowledges the way we fall short of them today and argues that it is only by returning to them that our current evils can be corrected. It calls for a civics education that fosters reverence for these principles, beginning with an accurate and honest teaching of American history,” he continued. “It is not a partisan document.”

Arnn noted that the Report received both positive and negative media coverage. The CNN labelled the report as a “racist school curriculum report” in the headline of a news article, while The Washington Post characterized it as “largely an attack on decades of historical scholarship.” The New York Times claimed that the 1776 Commission “includes no professional historians but a number of conservative activists, politicians, and intellectuals.” However Arnn, as well as commissioners Victor David Hanson and Charles R. Kesler, are noted scholars and authors on U.S. history.

“I think the report will endure because it speaks of principles that are fixed and enduring,” Arnn wrote. “At a time of such deep division in our country, these principles offer the only hope of uniting all Americans.”

The 1776 Report was removed from the White House website following the presidential transition. It can still be found on the publicly archived Trump White House and Hillsdale College websites.