German artist Franz Habermann had never been to America, and had not critically considered the evidence of the American Revolution before he engraved this portrayal of New Yorkers tearing down King George III’s statue in 1776. As a result, he imagined enslaved people were the ones claiming liberty by rejecting a monarch. In fact, enslaved people remained in New York City into the 1830s.
Let’s not repeat Habermann’s mistakes. Let’s stop assuming. Let’s examine more evidence and listen to more voices. Let’s revolutionize how we understand the past and its resonance today.