What Is the 1836 Project? Texas To Promote 'Patriotic Education'

On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law establishing the 1836 Project.

The legislation creates a nine-member advisory committee to "promote patriotic education" about the state's secession from Mexico in 1836 and other key moments in Texas history, as well as "increase awareness of the Texas values that continue to stimulate boundless prosperity across this state."

"To keep Texas the best state in the nation, we can never forget WHY our state is so exceptional," the Republican governor tweeted after signing the bill into law. "I signed a law establishing the 1836 project, which promotes patriotic education & ensures future generations understand TX values. Together, we'll keep our rich history alive."

To keep Texas the best state in the nation, we can never forget WHY our state is so exceptional.

I signed a law establishing the 1836 project, which promotes patriotic education & ensures future generations understand TX values.

Together, we'll keep our rich history alive. pic.twitter.com/4yZuygS2yX

— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) June 7, 2021

Among the tasks required of the 1836 Project's committee—appointed by the Texas governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker—is ensuring "patriotic education" regarding Texas is provided to the public at state parks, landmarks, monuments and museums. They'll also create a pamphlet about Texas history to be distributed to anyone who receives a Texas driver's license.

The 1836 Project is modeled on former President Donald Trump's now-canceled 1776 Commission, which also called for "patriotic education" about American history.

Both came in response to The New York Times' award-winning 1619 Project, which examined the legacy of slavery and racism in the nation's history.

Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her essay introducing the 1619 Project, responded to Abbott on Twitter Monday, noting that the Texas Constitution in 1836 had explicitly legalized slavery years after Mexico abolished it.

Article VIII, SEC. 1. 1845 TX Constitution: The legislature shall have no power to pass laws for the emancipation of slaves without the consent of their owners, nor without paying their owners. https://t.co/aEpv5keGCT

— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) June 7, 2021

Texas could have gotten behind an 1865 Project and the importance of #Juneteenth to its state history. Instead, it chose 1836 and the adoption of a constitution that established slavery and prohibited "Africans" from living freely in the country. #historyteacher

— Kevin M. Levin (@KevinLevin) June 8, 2021

Historians and educators have also denounced the 1836 Project as propaganda that seeks to erase the role of slavery as a driving factor in the Texas Revolution.

"Texas could have gotten behind an 1865 Project and the importance of #Juneteenth to its state history," historian Kevin M. Levin tweeted. "Instead, it chose 1836 and the adoption of a constitution that established slavery and prohibited 'Africans' from living freely in the country."

The 1836 Project "seeks to erase injustice and conquest in the past by mandating 'patriotic education,'" Raul Ramos, an associate professor of history at the University of Houston, wrote in an op-ed for the Houston Chronicle in May.

"How does requiring a 'patriotic education' standard square with the lynching of Black and ethnic Mexican Texans? The values and leaders of the 1836 war that separated Texas from Mexico didn't result in emancipation and Juneteenth, they actively sought to protect slavery in perpetuity."

Texas Gov Greg Abbott
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announces the reopening of more Texas businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic at a press conference at the Texas State Capitol on May 18, 2020 in Austin, Texas. Lynda M. Gonzalez/Pool/Getty Images