I can’t accept that slavery is our “legacy,” as stated in the headline of the Associated Press article on President Trump’s remarks at a celebration of the signing of the Constitution, published in the Press Herald on Sept. 18 (“President downplays legacy of slavery in appeal to white voters,” Page A8).

Associated Press journalists Aamer Madhani and Deb Riechmann report that “he did not mention the 246 years of slavery in America” but fail to note that for 157 of those years there was no United States of “America,” only populations and settlements controlled by European nations planted on the vast land masses of North and South America.

“America” came to be popularly accepted as referring, collectively, to the newly independent states, more than a century and a half after than the article’s timeline starting point. This is not to sweep under the rug that another 85 years passed before the Civil War began, with the Union’s real purpose to end slavery, nor the persistent racism that oceans of American blood have failed to drown.

However, it is inaccurate at best to lump pre-Independence colonies with the “America” that has evolved today, and that a Jewish immigrant from Russia no doubt had in mind when he chose the name for his song that has become our unofficial national anthem.

William G. Sayres

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