New Jersey Principal Apologizes For Telling Students to 'Party Like It's 1776'

A 1776 copy of the Declaration of Independence, shown in this undated handout photograph, was bought by television producer Norman Lear and Internet entrepreneur David Hayden, who plan to send the document on a national tour under the auspices of Lear's nonprofit organization, People for the American Way. (AP Photo)

The principal of Cherry Hill High School East in New Jersey sent out a letter apologizing to students for having the words “party like it’s 1776” on the school’s prom tickets.

The reason for the phrase being used was ostensibly due to the fact that the event’s venue was Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center.

Well, I have to say I am on the outrage train here myself.

Party like it’s 1776?

They’re holding a dance at a place dedicated to the United States Constitution and they want people to party like it’s 15 years before the Constitution was even written?

Are you kidding me with this? The absolute ignorance and tone-deafness of this high school’s administration is unbelievable to those of us who value historical accuracy. Maybe next time, they’ll get the date correct, or move the venue to Independence Hall.

Okay, so clearly I am tongue in cheek about the outrage and hurt feelings over the date, but it’s as historically ignorant as those who were upset about 1776 being the year referred to because slavery still existed in the country.

But the year 1776 is significant in the timeline of the ending of slavery in America. Without 1776 we would never have had a 1791, when the document that landed an impending deadly blow to the inhumane practice of slavery in the South and even in New Jersey at the time.

Ultimately, the constraints laid out in the Constitution that the abolitionists during our founding hoped would lead to a peaceful end to slavery weren’t enough and led to the deadliest conflict in American history.

Putting things into historical context rather than leaning on reflexive outrage and claims of hurt feelings is more likely to facilitate the discussion on race we’ve supposedly had (or not) over the past 10 years. All this kind of thing does is shut down any dialog there might have been about the year 1776 and how it’s important to all Americans, regardless of skin tone.