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President Trump establishes the '1776 Commission' to restore Patriotic Education in Schools

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Issued on: November 2, 2020

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to better enable a rising generation to understand the history and principles of the founding of the United States in 1776, and, through this, form a more perfect Union, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Purpose.  The American founding envisioned a political order in harmony with the design of “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” seeing the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as embodied in and sanctioned by natural law and its traditions.

The formation of a republic around these principles marked a clear departure from previous forms of government, securing rights through a form of government that derives its legitimate power from the consent of the governed.  Throughout its national life, our Republic’s exploration of the full meaning of these principles has led it through the ratification of a Constitution, civil war, the abolition of slavery, Reconstruction, and a series of domestic crises and world conflicts.  Those events establish a clear historical record of an exceptional Nation dedicated to the ideas and ideals of its founding.

Against this history, in recent years, a series of polemics grounded in poor scholarship has vilified our Founders and our founding.  Despite the virtues and accomplishments of this Nation, many students are now taught in school to hate their own country, and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but rather villains.  This radicalized view of American history lacks perspective, obscures virtues, twists motives, ignores or distorts facts, and magnifies flaws, resulting in the truth being concealed and history disfigured.  Failing to identify, challenge, and correct this distorted perspective could fray and ultimately erase the bonds that knit our country and culture together.

The recent attacks on our founding have highlighted America’s history related to race.  These one-sided and divisive accounts too often ignore or fail to properly honor and recollect the great legacy of the American national experience ‑- our country’s valiant and successful effort to shake off the curse of slavery and to use the lessons of that struggle to guide our work toward equal rights for all citizens in the present.  Viewing America as an irredeemably and systemically racist country cannot account for the extraordinary role of the great heroes of the American movement against slavery and for civil rights — a great moral endeavor that, from Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King, Jr., was marked by religious fellowship, good will, generosity of heart, an emphasis on our shared principles, and an inclusive vision for the future.

As these heroes demonstrated, the path to a renewed and confident national unity is through a rediscovery of a shared identity rooted in our founding principles.  A loss of national confidence in these principles would place rising generations in jeopardy of a crippling self-doubt that could cause them to abandon faith in the common story that binds us to one another across our differences.  Without our common faith in the equal right of every individual American to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, authoritarian visions of government and society could become increasingly alluring alternatives to self-government based on the consent of the people.  Thus it is necessary to provide America’s young people access to what is genuinely inspiring and unifying in our history, as well as to the lessons imparted by the American experience of overcoming great national challenges.  This is what makes possible the informed and honest patriotism that is essential for a successful republic.

A restoration of American education grounded in the principles of our founding that is accurate, honest, unifying, inspiring, and ennobling must ultimately succeed at the local level.  Parents and local school boards must be empowered to achieve greater choice and variety in curriculum at the State and local levels.

The role of the Federal Government is to protect and preserve State and local control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, and personnel of educational institutions, schools, and school systems.  Indeed, that is why my Administration rejects the Common Core curriculum and all efforts to have the Federal Government impose a national curriculum or national standards in education.

Vigorous participation in local government has always been America’s laboratory of liberty and a key to what makes us exceptional.  The best way to preserve the story of America’s founding principles is to live it in action by local communities reasserting control of how children receive patriotic education in their schools.

Sec. 2.  The President’s Advisory 1776 Commission.  (a)  Within 120 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Education shall establish in the Department of Education the President’s Advisory 1776 Commission (“the 1776 Commission”) to better enable a rising generation to understand the history and principles of the founding of the United States in 1776 and to strive to form a more perfect Union.

(b)  The 1776 Commission shall be composed of not more than 20 members, who shall be appointed by the President.  Members shall serve for a term of 2 years and shall not be removed except for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance.  The 1776 Commission may include individuals from outside the Federal Government with relevant experience or subject-matter expertise.  The 1776 Commission shall also include the following ex-officio members or such senior officials as those members may designate:

(i)    the Secretary of State;

(ii)   the Secretary of Defense;

(iii)  the Secretary of the Interior;

(iv)   the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development;

(v)    the Secretary of Education;

(vi)   the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy; and

(vii)  the Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs.

(c)  The 1776 Commission shall:

(i)    produce a report for the President, within 1 year of the date of this order, which shall be publicly disseminated, regarding the core principles of the American founding and how these principles may be understood to further enjoyment of “the blessings of liberty” and to promote our striving “to form a more perfect Union.”  The Commission may solicit statements and contributions from intellectual and cultural figures in addition to the views of the Commission members;