Founding Falsehoods

Reconsidering how we’ve been telling stories about American history

<em>Watson and the Shark</em>, 1778, By John Singleton Copley (National Gallery of Art)
Watson and the Shark, 1778, By John Singleton Copley (National Gallery of Art)

Farah Peterson is a law professor and legal historian at the University of Virginia School of Law. In her first essay for the Scholar, published in our Winter 2019 issue, she examined John Adams’s defense of eight British soldiers, charged with killing Crispus Attucks, an unarmed black man, on March 5, 1770. Despite how they have long been characterized, Adams’s arguments, she wrote, were hardly the ultimate expression of principle and rule of law. In our new issue, Peterson turns to yet another dangerous myth of the Revolutionary era: namely, that black Americans in bondage did not want to be free. Given the ongoing protests against police brutality, here and around the world, Peterson’s work feels all the more vital as we enter into a newly invigorated national conversation about race and how to rectify historical injustices.

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Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek. Follow us on Twitter @TheAmScho or on Facebook.

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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