Michelle Obama spoke on the first day of the Democratic National Convention. Her speech was inspiring but it did spark some controversy.
That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. (Michelle Obama)
People could not believe it. Slavery is a black spot on American history but the truth is, it isn’t a distant history. The truth is that many of the historical government buildings were built by slaves during that time.
“We as Americans build up a myth of our country, and a lot of times, we don’t want to look behind that myth,” said Jesse Holland, a Washington-based journalist who wrote “The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slaves in the White House.”
There are many things about our country that as a people we were not taught while growing up. Here are four things we didn’t learn about America when growing up.
1- Abraham Lincoln wanted to free the slaves
Abraham Lincoln is credited for freeing the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862. In reality, he had conflicting views on slavery. He didn’t necessarily fight in the Civil War to end slavery but to reunite the country. He did not want to lose to the Confederate and he would do anything to make sure that happened
If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union. (Abraham Lincoln)
2- Founding Fathers were all Christians
For some reason, we were all taught in school that all of the Founding Fathers were Christian. The Declaration of Independence speaks about God. The pledge of allegiance says “under God.” All of this combined together makes it a safe assumption that Washington and the others are Christian men.
That assumption is wrong. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were believed to be deists. Which means they don’t follow the Bible exactly. They assume there is a “god” but only because nature is so amazing. George Washington followed pantheism, which believes that nature is god. John Adams was a Unitarian. It stems off of Christianity but they didn’t believe that Jesus was God’s son. Alexander Hamilton was actually a Christian but only after his son was killed later in his life.
As young children we were taught that Thanksgiving was this great event that helps define our culture as Americans. The Pilgrims sailed on the Mayflower and arrive on Plymouth Rock in 1620. They came unprepared for the harsh winter and were saved by the natives. The friendly natives gave them food and taught them how to plant corn. The next autumn, they had a feast together to commemorate the hardships they survived. The Pilgrims and Native Americans joined together to celebrate.
That is not what happened. That is not what happened, even if you looked at the real event with rose colored glasses. Three years before the Pilgrims arrived, European settlers arrived and they introduced diseases and plagues to the native tribes. 96% of the entire population of natives were wiped out. When the settlers killed all of the natives, they moved to another tribe which caused the plagues to spread.
Onto the Pilgrims. Some believe that the Pilgrims knew that the plague wiped out the Native Americans were wiped out in Cape Cod. They landed there so they could take the crops and tools that were left behind. Even worse, the Pilgrims stole food and tools from any Native Americans that were still alive because they were too weak and sick to fight back.
And you wondered why Native Americans hate Christopher Columbus.
4- Some of our Presidents were gay.
All of our American presidents are white and Christian. We only had one president who wasn’t. JFK was Roman Catholic. When Obama was elected, the US had the first black president. If Bernie was elected, we would have had a first Jewish president. If Hilary is elected, it will be the first women president. The sexual orientation has never been taught but implied to be heterosexual. Since they all had First Ladies.
Once again, that assumption isn’t necessarily true. There are 7 US Presidents that are rumored to be gay or bisexual. James Buchanan, JFK, LBJ, Alexander Hamilton, and Abraham Lincoln had rumored male lovers. Each of these presidents had close relationships with a male friend throughout their lives. They could have been just friends but it could have been more as well. Even Obama and Bill Clinton had rumors but nothing valid to back it up.
While growing up, we think that we will learn whatever we need to know from school but that isn’t the case. We always hear, the winners write the history books. It all depends where you are and the time period we learn it from.
In America, we learn about the American Revolution and how important it was but in other countries, it is just a footnote when learning about the French Revolution. Sometimes we do need to take it upon ourselves to learn on our own and search for the truth.