Sunday, October 4, 2020

ASLH Statement on White House Conference on American History

 [We have the following announcement from the American Society for Legal History.  DRE]

ASLH Statement on White House Conference on American History

Statement from ASLH President Lauren Benton, on behalf of the ASLH Executive Committee.

President Trump delivered a speech at the National Archives on September 17, 2020, in which he characterized “the crusade against American history” as “toxic propaganda, ideological poison that, if not removed, will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together.” The speech capped the “White House Conference on American History,” an event planned hastily and without the participation of historical associations. The “conference” and Trump’s comments denigrated scholarship and work in public history focusing on the historical analysis of race, slavery, and institutional racism.

We condemn these words and actions, and we reject President Trump’s politicization of history as a field of inquiry and teaching. The American Society for Legal History (ASLH) joins other historical associations, including the AHA and OAH, in recognizing Trump’s words and actions as an attempt to distort history in service to a politically driven agenda. As legal historians, we affirm that the study of race, class, ethnicity, and gender, and the analysis of slavery, inequality, and conflict remain central to understandings of the constitutional and legal history of the United States, and to documenting the lived experiences, past and present, of all people connected to and affected by that history. The ASLH will continue to work to protect the highest professional standards for evaluating and presenting historical evidence and argument and to foster open, inclusive, and evidence-based debates about all aspects of American history.

Lauren Benton

President, ASLH
On behalf of the Executive Committee of the American Society for Legal History.