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Posted under: News Politics

Virginia Lawmaker Criticized For Foolishly Stating Frederick Douglass Debated Abraham Lincoln

Delegate Wren Williams confused Frederick Douglass for former Sen. Stephen Douglas of the Lincoln v. Douglas debates.

Virginia delegate Wren Williams, who took office on Wednesday, introduced his first bill taking aim directly at critical race theory by proposing schools teach students about specific moments within American history — but he made one glaring mistake.

Williams proposed “the first debate between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass" be taught to students, but critics quickly pointed out that no such debate exists. Williams was likely referring to the event involving former State Sen. Stephen Douglas, who went head to head against Lincoln for a Senate seat in 1858. 

Notable figures blast Williams online for the mixup

The bill became a trending moment on Twitter due to Williams' massive mistake. Several notable people, including political figures and historians, chastised the new delegate. 

"One of the great moments of U.S. history: When Frederick Douglass debated Abraham Lincoln.An ignorant alternative fact. Just a hint of what we can expect with Virginia under new management," Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said.

"In the meantime, I have so many questions. Do the people behind this bill know *anything* about the LD debates? Do they actually think Frederick Douglass was promoting popular sovereignty as a way to preserve slavery? And accusing Lincoln of the crime of abolitionism?" historian Kevin Kruse said

Virginia Legislative Services takes accountability for the error

The Virginia Legislative Services responded to the backlash, taking ownership for the glaring error. The office released a statement saying that Williams gave an accurate retelling of history while drafting the bill.

The bill also goes on to suggest that schools provide students with knowledge of America’s founding documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Federalist Papers, as well as Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and the writings of the Founding Fathers.

“What we have seen from Loudoun County Public Schools and the renaming of Patrick Henry Community College in recent weeks is only the tip of the iceberg. Our universities, liberal activists and politicians are raising our children to believe that America is an evil country and their fellow classmates are perpetrators of America’s sins,” Williams said in a press release on his site. “The indoctrination of our children in Critical Race Theory is appalling and will prove fatal to our nation. We should be teaching our students that they are created equal, and to understand the past and present in a way that fosters grace and unity, not hatred and division.”

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