Parts of Trump’s controversial 1776 history project lifted from previous work, report says

Several paragraphs of the 1776 report are lifted from a 2008 essay by one of the commission members 

Stuti Mishra
Wednesday 20 January 2021 07:50 GMT
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File image: Trump’s 1776 report is now accused of plagiarism after receiving strong criticism from historians
File image: Trump’s 1776 report is now accused of plagiarism after receiving strong criticism from historians (AFP via Getty Images)

A considerable chunk of Donald Trump’s 1776 commission project released by the White House, that pushes for “patriotic education” and attempts to defend slavery, is said to be plagiarised, according to a media report.

The 45-page report titled “1776 Report” that was released on Martin Luther King Jr Day, attacks liberal thought and teaches American history with "with reverence and love," and has been criticised by historians for its weak and one-sided arguments.

According to a report by Politico, a page in the report which talks about classroom discussion topics for teachers “appears to be copied nearly verbatim from an opinion piece” which was published in Inside Higher Ed in 2008 by Thomas Lindsay, one of the members of the 1776 commission.

The 2008 essay from Mr Lindsay contains several discussion prompts for teachers and features in the 1776 report on page 39 and 40 without attribution. The earlier essay was presented as a critique to a published book by former Harvard University president Derek Bok.

“The similarities are pronounced enough to raise questions about how much original work actually went into the construction of the 1776 report,” the Politico report said.

Apart from the discussion points, Politico noted, that the report copies five more paragraphs from Mr Lindsey’s 2008 article as well as adding other paragraphs specifically questioning the ways that the works of progressive politicians “differ from the principles and structure of the Constitution.”

Mr Lindsey, who was one of the 16 conservatives appointed to be part of the commission in December 2020, is an academic and served as president of Shimer college between 2009-2010. He is now a senior fellow at the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The commission was created in September last year after Mr Trump signed an executive order to set up a “national commission to promote patriotic education” in the country. The move was considered an attempt to please his conservative voter base, as the polls showed Mr Biden leading, in the run-up to the 3 November elections.

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