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Bicentennial Casualty

July 2024
1min read

A year ago, while the nation was gearing up for its Bicentennial festivities, the New York State Department of Education quietly abolished the State Office of History. The office, which formerly had a staff of twenty-eight and a budget of $500,000 a year, was eliminated as part of an economy move by the Department of Education. Five jobs were scrapped, and all other History Office personnel were transferred to other units.

The termination of the office seems a rather paradoxical celebration of the nation’s Bicentennial year; most of the money which the Education Department hoped to save was spent by the State Bicentennial Commission. Dr. Louis Tucker, former State Historian and head of the Office of History, commented on the incongruity of cutbacks in both history teaching and in offices such as his own:

“This may be the period in American history when our leaders and those concerned with public policy have the greatest need for a more accurate picture of our history and how our country came into being. I wonder if the Americans who are currently in the White House have read Madison’s note on the Constitution, or the Federalist Papers. Until people come to understand how our system was put together, they will have difficulty in directing our country.…”

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