The Afterlife of America’s Original Sin

by Andrew P. Napolitano

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

I am amazed at the efforts around the country to remove and destroy painful mementos of our history. One would think that historical figures need to be perceived as perfect to survive the winds of change that buffet their statues and portraits, and the employment of their names. Some of this is decent and civilized. Some of it is misguided and violent. All of it is unnecessary.

When a statue is erected to an historical figure, the erection is a statement about the balance of the person’s life worth. It is not a claim of perfection.

The Father of our Country owned more than 100 slaves. When the Capital of the U.S. was in Philadelphia, at a time when all slaves were deemed by Pennsylvania law to be freed after six months of their entry into the state, George and Martha Washington — he, the president of the United States at the time — rotated their slaves into and out of the state, so that none would qualify for freedom.

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