Have you heard the story about the “Bulletproof” George Washington?
In 1755, George Washington was a colonel in the Virginia militia and travelled with English General Braddock to an area outside of what is now Pittsburgh to engage the French and Indians. For the French and Indians, the encounter was literally a “turkey shoot”. Of the 70 officers comprising the English force, all were killed, including General Braddock. George Washington was the only officer left on horseback and he had two horses shot from under him.
Washington was able to lead a group of survivors to Cumberland Maryland. From there, he wrote his mother and brother, describing the bullet fragments in his hair, the holes in his vest and clothing, and the steeds that he lost, but astoundingly, he was unharmed. This story of his “miraculous” protection was even preached about in colonial churches.
How do we know this history? It comes from a text found at the Maryland Historical Society. Even though I grew up in Maryland (Baltimore City) and visited the Historical Society many times, and Baltimore City was the first town to build a monument in his honor (still standing and too big to topple), I did not learn of this story until I was 35 years old. Why was that?
I believe that it was because of the bias against attributing events to “Providential” and “supernatural” occurrences that such histories are purposefully censored.
But this bias and censorship is nothing new, the latest rendition appearing in the form of the 1619 Project. The 1619 Project is the brainchild of Nikole Hannah-Jones, is promoted by the NY Times, and purports to correct the “true” history of the United States based on and because of chattel slavery and, in their view, the racist reverberations from it that continue to impact American culture today.
The project views American history through the single lens of racism and therefore produces some pretty distorted and stunted results. For example, the project states that the Revolutionary War was fought to preserve slavery; that slavery is the ways and means by which America became such a wealthy nation; and that racism is an unchangeable part of America. So, never mind the list of specific grievances outlined in the Declaration of Independence (slavery not being one of them); never mind that in 1860 the South and its slave-labor economy was an industrial and financial neophyte compared to the North; never mind that a Black man was elected, twice, to the highest office in the land by a White majority population. Such facts belie the premises of a 1619 view of history.
In a world of fake news, cancellations, and hidden agendas, the last thing we need are more lies dressed up as The Truth. We need to view our history through multiple lenses to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of what happened and why. It’s still true, only the real truth will really set you free.