Tom Cotton attends a press conference
Tom Cotton attends a press conference
Photo Credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Senator Tom Cotton Defends Comments Saying Slavery Was "A Necessary Evil"

Tom Cotton previously described slavery as "a necessary evil."

On Thursday, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton sparked headlines after introducing a controversial legislation. The proposal stems from the New York Times' Pulitzer-winning 1619 Project. Cotton's legislation would ban federal funds for the Times' project, which would revise America's historical view of slavery.

Cotton rejected the idea that the United States is systemically racist. "As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built," he said Thursday. "But the union was built in a way, as [Abraham Lincoln] said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction."

On Sunday, Cotton doubled down on his comments.

"Describing the *views of the Founders* and how they put the evil institution on a path to extinction, a point frequently made by Lincoln, is not endorsing or justifying slavery," he wrote to the project's creator, Nikole Hannah-Jones.

In response to the project, Cotton introduced the Saving American History Act. The act would stop funding for the 1619 initiative, which bases elementary and secondary curricula US History around the first arrivals of slave ships in August of that year. Cotton rejected the project as "left-wing propaganda."

"The entire premise of the New York Times' factually, historically flawed 1619 that America is at root, a systemically racist country to the core and irredeemable. I reject that root and branch," he said. "America is a great and noble country founded on the proposition that all mankind is created equal. We have always struggled to live up to that promise, but no country has ever done more to achieve it."

Read the full interactive 1619 Project at the New York Times.