The 2017 awards season kicked off in earnest on January 8 with the 74th Annual Golden Globes, and it turns out: The voters of la-la land love La La Land.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association bestowed a record number of trophies on Damien Chazelle’s original musical about two lovers trying to make it in Hollywood. The other major contender of the evening, Barry Jenkins’s quietly powerful Moonlight, didn’t win the Best Supporting Actor and Best Director awards it was tipped for, but it did come away with the Best Motion Picture (Drama) prize over Manchester by the Sea. Other big winners included The Crown, Elle, Atlanta, The Night Manager, and The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
Read more updates below, or check out our full wrap-up of the evening.
After being shut out for the majority of the 2017 Golden Globes, Moonlight finally triumphed where it really mattered, with a win for Best Picture (Drama). Barry Jenkins’s stunning film about the coming-of-age of Chiron, a young boy growing up in Miami, was nominated for six awards but took home only one, with the loss of Mahershala Ali in the Best Supporting Actor category coming as a particular surprise. Moonlight will now have some extra momentum heading toward the Oscars in February, although whether it can beat this year’s Globes juggernaut, La La Land, is anyone’s guess.
Jenkins adapted Moonlight from a play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, who grew up in the same Liberty Square housing project in Miami as the director. If you haven’t seen it already, this New York Times story by Nikole Hannah-Jones, who visited the area with the two men, is well worth a read.
Jimmy Fallon at the Globes: Game, Charming, and Barely There
When it was announced, this summer, that Jimmy Fallon would be hosting the 2017 Golden Globes, The Guardian’s Brian Moylan argued that Fallon’s selection could herald a new era for the awards show. Fallon, Moylan wrote—as opposed to the show’s previous hosts, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and certainly to Ricky Gervais—“promises to be a totally different kind of host.”
As Moylan put it,
As the steward of The Tonight Show, he’s not known for telling jokes in the same way that Gervais or Fey and Poehler are. Instead his most resonant bits are ones of collaboration, when he brings out the best in other celebrities and gets them to engage in wacky games or silly stunts. Also, his humor doesn’t have the sardonic edge of the previous hosts. Fallon has the temperament of a labrador retriever: always happy to be there, excited for anything that comes his way, and just dying for someone to scratch his belly.
Fallon did, indeed, offer moments of wackiness this evening. He began the Globes telecast with that La La Land-inspired musical number. He brought Questlove in as the show’s DJ. He did an “Oprah-Uma”-reminiscent play on the sort-of-rhyming names of Jessica ChastAIN and Eddie RedMAYNE.
Beyond that, though, the most notable aspect of Fallon’s hosting approach was … his general non-presence as a host. He had, overall, very little screen time.
That wasn’t Fallon’s fault. It was a reminder, though, of how different the demands that are made of the hosts of the Globes versus, say, the hosts of the Oscars. Fallon’s semi-presence during the evening highlighted the extent to which the “host,” at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s annual affair, is really more of an emcee than anything else. He introduces other people. He makes fun, but he also, more importantly, makes way. Fallon does indeed, as Moylan put it, “bring out the best in other celebrities”—which is a good thing, since that, apparently, is the job he was tapped to do for the evening.
As the night winds down, it’s a clean sweep for La La Land, the L.A.-set original musical that will surely be tipped for similar Oscar success next month. The film won seven Golden Globes in total: Best Picture (Comedy or Musical), Best Actor and Actress for stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, Best Director and Best Screenplay for Damien Chazelle, and Best Original Score and Song. In winning all seven of the awards it was nominated for, La La Land became the most-awarded film in the 70-plus year history of the Globes.
Could such sweeping success lead to a backlash for La La Land, which is now the clear favorite for the Oscar for Best Picture? Perhaps. There were some slightly awkward optics as the film’s winners repeatedly took the stage and triumphantly noted how “daring” it was to try and make an original musical. Original musicals are few and far between in Hollywood these days, to be sure, but the (so far un-awarded) Moonlight, funded independently, featuring no major stars, and sprung to surprising word-of-mouth success on the back of critical acclaim, feels a little more “daring” than a nostalgic, if well-made, showbiz musical starring Stone and Gosling.
Meryl Streep vs. Donald Trump (and Mixed Martial Arts)
Meryl Streep might be Hollywood’s best example of actor as craftsperson; now she’s making a play as statesperson. After a moving introduction from Viola Davis, Streep accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award for a career’s worth of work by giving a full-throated articulation of the current Hollywood political mindset. She reassured the entertainment world of its value, and she took aim at Donald Trump and what he might represent.
The meat of the speech came with Streep reflecting on the episode where Trump seemed to mock a disabled reporter, or as she called it, the “moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back.”
“It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie, it was real life,” she continued. “This instinct to humiliate when it’s modeled by someone in a public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everyone’s life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.
She transitioned to the need for a “principled press” to “call them on the carpet for every outrage,” adding that the “famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community” should support the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Perhaps most surprisingly, in defending “the most vilified segments in American society right now”—by which she meant the type of people who attend the Golden Globes—she said something likely to be taken as a culture-war salvo: a highbrow-type aiming lower. “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners,” she said, “and if you kick us all out, you’ll have nothing to watch except for football and mixed martial arts, which are not arts.”
Cue the politically divided reads of the moment:
An important lesson from #MerylStreep for Democrats and progressives: Speak truth.
Winning will follow.
'Hidden Fences': A Terrible Gaffe, but a Pretty Great Meme
On the red carpet before the start of the Golden Globes ceremony, NBC’s Jenna Bush Hager began her question to Pharrell—who produced Hidden Figures, the new film about three black women who helped to send men to the moon in the 1960s, and for which he is nominated for a best original score—like so: “You’re nominated for Hidden Fences.”
It was a flub that would be repeated during the Globes ceremony itself by Michael Keaton, announcing the nominees for best supporting actress in a motion picture. (“Since the camera was focused on the actresses,” the New York Timesnotes, “it’s unclear if Mr. Keaton said it with a wink and a nod.”)
It was also a flub, however, that would quickly lead to some very good jokes on Twitter.
I can't believe I haven't seen #hiddenfences yet!! But you know, I still need to see Boo! A Madea Moonlight, so...I'll get to it.
Tom Hiddleston Makes a Humblebraggy Humanitarian Speech
It would not be charitable to write off Tom Hiddleston’s Golden Globes acceptance speech as a total humblebrag. But it would be inaccurate to say it was not, a little bit, a humblebrag.
First, though, it was an attempt to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis and an appreciation of entertainment’s role even in dangerous situations. Accepting the prize for Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries from his turn in BBC and AMC’s The Night Manager, he launched into a story about having recently visited South Sudan with the United Nations’ Children’s Fund. He spoke of there being a “terrible situation” for children there (cue producers’ cut to the Stranger Things kids), and he dedicated his award to “those making a difference.”
But the main point of his speech seemed to be an anecdote about him grabbing a “dirty beer” with other humanitarian workers. There, he was approached by Médecins Sans Frontières doctors and nurses who told him they’d watched The Night Manager as bombs fell in the country. “The idea that I could provide, or we could provide, some relief and entertainment for the people who work for Unicef and Médecins Sans Frontières, who are fixing the world in the places where it is broken, made me immensely proud,” he said.
Reaction to the speech online was … mixed:
That was a long story Tom Hiddleston told to pay himself a compliment. #GoldenGlobes
When trying to predict the Golden Globe television winners, always remember two things: The Hollywood Foreign Press Association loves to pick the hot new TV show. They also love any prestige drama to come out of the UK. The Crown, Netflix’s epic chronicling of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, was both, so of course it was guaranteed a couple trophies. The first went to star Claire Foy, who dedicated her award to Elizabeth; the second was for Best TV Series (Drama).
The Crown had some hot competition this year from new dramas—NBC hit This Is Us, Netflix’s summer smash Stranger Things, and HBO’s much-discussed Westworld were among the nominees—but the Globes will always break a tie for the Brits. The same goes for The Night Manager, a BBC miniseries adaptation of a John le Carré novel that aired on AMC last April, which won four Globes tonight. Though American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson was the bigger hit with both critics and viewers, The Night Manager surprisingly beat it in every category it was nominated for (Best Miniseries, Best Actor in a Miniseries, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress).
Hugh Laurie Suggests 2017's Show Will Be the Final Golden Globes ... Because Trump
Hugh Laurie won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a limited series or TV movie for his performance in The Night Manager. The Brit used his speech—the third time he had occupied the Globes stage as an award winner—not just to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for the honor, but also to take another of the evening’s swipes at the incoming U.S. president.
"Thank you, first of all, to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for this amazing honor,” Laurie began. He paused. “I suppose it’s made more amazing by the fact that I’ll be able to say that I won this at the last ever Golden Globes.”
The crowd didn’t quite get what Laurie was hinting at. They offered him a few tepid laughs; then he tried again.
“I don’t mean to be gloomy,” the actor said. “It’s just that it has the words ‘Hollywood,’ ‘foreign,’ and ‘press’ in the title. I just don’t know what—”
At this point, the crowd got it. Laurie was suggesting that a Trump administration might do away with the organization that was handing out the awards he and his fellow Hollywooders had just received. Those Hollywooders began laughing, and applauding.
“I also think that, to some Republicans, even the word ‘association’ is slightly sketchy,” Laurie continued, to more laughter.
The actor continued with more traditional acceptance-speech fare: expressions of gratitude, expressions of humility. And then—an homage to his Night Manager character, Richard Roper, and perhaps to another person, as well—he concluded his speech: “I accept this award on behalf of psychopathic billionaires everywhere."
Viola Davis Wins a Long-Awaited Prize for 'Fences'
“This is my fifth nomination. I took all the pictures, went to the luncheon,” Viola Davis joked as she won the first Golden Globe of her career. “But this is right on time.” The trophy came for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her work in Denzel Washington’s Fences, an acclaimed adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. She praised Washington and the film’s producers for taking on such a stage-bound work, noting, “It doesn’t scream moneymaker. But it does scream art. It does scream heart.”
Fences has actually proven a solid moneymaker, already grossing $40 million since its December 16 release, buoyed by rapturous reviews and Washington’s star presence. Davis’s work in the film is extraordinary (she’s arguably a quasi-lead, taking over the film for its last act) and has been hotly tipped to win an Oscar for months; her Globe victory marks the first step. Davis thanked Washington before leaving the stage, calling herself “a friend and a fan.”
The Surprising First Golden Globes Winner of the Night
Perhaps Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Best Supporting Actor win for Nocturnal Animals shouldn’t have been a surprise—the Hollywood Foreign Press clearly enjoyed the movie, handing it three nominations including Best Director and Screenplay to Tom Ford. Still, Taylor-Johnson has largely been off the radar this awards season—his part is somewhat small and esoteric in the film, which got mixed reviews and made little impact at the box office. Aside from tonight’s Golden Globe, the only other trophy Taylor-Johnson has gotten this year is the Santa Barbara Film Festival’s “Virtuoso Award.”
The two Best Supporting Actor frontrunners were thought to be Mahershala Ali, who has cleaned up with critics associations for his work as Juan in Moonlight, and Jeff Bridges, a beloved veteran who did career-best work in Hell or High Water. Taylor-Johnson is still seen as having only an outside shot at even grabbing an Oscar nomination, but he got his moment in the sun tonight, directing most of his speech to his wife Sam Taylor-Johnson, who directed him in the 2009 film Nowhere Boy, and their four children.
Jimmy Fallon Compares Donald Trump to King Joffrey
The most controversial thing about Golden Globes host Jimmy Fallon has, historically, been in how uncontroversial he is. The SNL alum and Tonight Show host’s friendliness is legend—but when that friendliness extended to Donald Trump in September, his ruffling of the then-candidate’s hair ruffled some viewers who wondered why he hadn’t asked any tough questions.
He brought a bit more political bite to his show-opening monologue tonight. “This is the Golden Globes, one of the few places left where America still honors the popular vote,” he said early on.
Then he turned his attention to Game of Thrones. “A lot of people have wondered what it would have been like if King Joffrey had lived,” he said, referring to a vindictive school-age tyrant who once served as the show’s big villain. “Well, in 12 days we’re going to find out.”
And the firm that tabulates the Globes votes? “Ernst and Young, and Putin.”
Those quips didn’t quite pierce the typical Fallon aura of affability and awkwardness, though. The night started with a chipper pre-taped musical number that flaunted the Hollywood Foreign Press’s rolodex by enlisting many of the year’s acting nominees (highlight: Eleven from Stranger Things rapping), climaxing with Fallon and Justin Timberlake partnering for a La La Land-esque reverie. Then Fallon took the stage to a supposedly malfunctioning teleprompter; if his ensuing clumsiness—“cut to Justin Timberlake, please!”—was meant to be a joke about Mariah Carey’s New Year’s Eve debacle, he should have thrown in a “It just doesn’t get any better” or something.
Once he began his monologue in earnest, he made the strange choice to impersonate Chris Rock at length. The bit seemingly existed just to deliver a punchline about The People vs. O.J. Simpson nominees not being able to thank Simpson himself in their acceptance speeches. The joke wasn’t all that edgy—but apparently Fallon still felt he had to deliver it in the voice of an edgier comedian than himself.
With Jimmy Fallon behind the podium as this year’s host, the Globes promises to be a more Hollywood-friendly affair (last year’s host Ricky Gervais was perhaps too focused on mocking the inflated egos in the room). Still, the awards can be hard to predict because of the nebulous nature of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which decides on the winners.
The 90-member group votes on the best cinema and television of the year, bifurcating the former into comedies and dramas and the latter into comedies, dramas, and miniseries/TV movies. The film awards can be particularly crucial in setting the narrative for the Oscar race ahead (the Academy Award nominations are announced later this month): A publicity-grabbing speech, or shocking victory, can help catapult an actor or movie into frontrunner status. On the TV side, the Globes are less good at predicting the Emmys (which aren’t given out until September), but the Hollywood Foreign Press tends to gravitate toward new shows, so nominees like Westworld, The Crown, and Atlanta could do well.
For the best-drama category, the race seems to have come down to Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea, two critical favorites that are hotly tipped for Oscar victory. Casey Affleck and Jackie’s Natalie Portman are frontrunners in the lead-acting categories, but neither seems secure—Denzel Washington in Fences, in particular, could begin a run at his third Oscar here. On the comedy side, the musical La La Land is the obvious frontrunner in every category; it’s viewed as the consensus favorite filled with old-fashioned movie magic. Meanwhile, the best-director category—where Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight and Damien Chazelle’s La La Land are both competing—will be the most crucial indicator of which film will see more support as the Oscars draw nearer. (I broke down the nominations in more detail here.)
The president’s mindless nationalism has come to this: Americans are not welcome in Europe or Mexico.
There is a lot of learned material written about nationalism—scholarly books and papers, histories of it, theories of it—but most of us understand that nationalism, at its heart, at its very deepest roots, is about a feeling of superiority: We are better than you. Our country is better than your country. Or even—and apologies, but this is the precise language deployed by the president of the United States: Your country is a shithole country. Ours isn’t.
In this sense, nationalism is not patriotism, which is the desire to work on behalf of your fellow citizens, to defend common values, to build something positive. Nationalism is not community spirit either, which seeks to pull people together. Nationalism has nothing to do with democratic values: Authoritarians can be nationalists; indeed, most are. Nationalism has nothing to do with the rule of law, justice, or opportunity. At its core, nationalism is rather a competition, an ugly and negative competition. There’s a reason nationalists build walls, denigrate foreigners, and denounce immigrants: Because our people are better than those people. There’s a reason nationalism has so often become violent in the past. For if we—our nation—are better, then what right do others have to live beside us? Or to occupy land that we covet? Or even, maybe, to live at all?
In France, where I live, the virus is under control. I can hardly believe the news coming out of the United States.
I returned to Paris with my family three months after President Emmanuel Macron had ordered one of the world’s most aggressive national quarantines, and one month after France had begun to ease itself out of it. When we exited the Gare Montparnasse into the late-spring glare, after a season tucked away in a rural village with more cows than people as neighbors, it was jarring to be thrust back into the world as we’d previously known it, to see those café terraces overflowing again with smiling faces.
My first reaction was one of confused frustration as we drove north across the river to our apartment. The city had been culled of its tourists, though it was bustling with inhabitants basking in their reclaimed freedom. Half at most wore masks; the other half evinced indifference. We were in the midst of a crisis, I complained to my wife. Why were so many people unable to maintain even minimal discipline?
The disease’s “long-haulers” have endured relentless waves of debilitating symptoms—and disbelief from doctors and friends.
For Vonny LeClerc, day one was March 16.
Hours after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson instated stringent social-distancing measures to halt the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, LeClerc, a Glasgow-based journalist, arrived home feeling shivery and flushed. Over the next few days, she developed a cough, chest pain, aching joints, and a prickling sensation on her skin. After a week of bed rest, she started improving. But on day 12, every old symptom returned, amplified and with reinforcements: She spiked an intermittent fever, lost her sense of taste and smell, and struggled to breathe.
When I spoke with LeClerc on day 66, she was still experiencing waves of symptoms. “Before this, I was a fit, healthy 32-year-old,” she said. “Now I’ve been reduced to not being able to stand up in the shower without feeling fatigued. I’ve tried going to the supermarket and I’m in bed for days afterwards. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.” Despite her best efforts, LeClerc has not been able to get a test, but “every doctor I’ve spoken to says there’s no shadow of a doubt that this has been COVID,” she said. Today is day 80.
In the beach towns south of Melbourne, everyone, it seems, knows someone who’s been attacked.
About a week after Steven Mikac began taking antibiotics for the strange spot on his leg, the flesh around his ankle started to tighten and swell. The moist orifice of a wound opened up and took the form of a small bullet hole. A plug of tissue had gone missing—dissolved into pus and slime. Walking was excruciating. Working, unbearable. In early October of last year, Mikac showed his ankle to a colleague at the hospital where he works in Melbourne, in the Australian state of Victoria. She suggested that it might be Buruli ulcer—a disease caused by a strain of flesh-eating bacteria.
Though Mikac had seen local television reports about an outbreak of this tropical disease in Victoria, it sounded so freakish, so unlikely, that he hardly considered it a possibility. But like hundreds of Australians before him, he was about to become all too familiar with Buruli, a slow-moving horror show that has proved, in many ways, even more baffling to infectious-disease researchers than the novel coronavirus. After decades of research, scientists still aren’t certain who, or what, is spreading this strange malady around the world.
The writer and activist has the painful, powerful words for this political moment. America just needs to heed them.
“There are days—this is one of them—when you wonder what your role is in this country and what your future is in it. How, precisely, are you going to reconcile yourself to your situation here and how you are going to communicate to the vast, heedless, unthinking, cruel white majority that you are here. I’m terrified at the moral apathy, the death of the heart, which is happening in my country. These people have deluded themselves for so long that they really don’t think I’m human. And I base this on their conduct, not on what they say. And this means that they have become in themselves moral monsters.”
James Baldwin made this somber observation more than 50 years ago. I included these words in my film I Am Not Your Negro, which explored Baldwin’s searing assessment of American society through the lens of the assassination of three of his friends: Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X. It is a film that cruelly shortens time and space between acts of police brutality in Birmingham in 1963 and images of the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri, after the killing of Michael Brown; recent images of protests over the death of George Floyd extend that tragic connection to the present-day.
For most of the past three years, the only thing more futile than looking for Donald Trump to pivot was expecting the American people to do so. No matter how successful the president was, or, more often, how chaotic and disorderly his administration was, nothing seemed to be able to shake up people’s views of Trump.
Popular approval of Trump hovered in the same narrow range, roughly from 39 to 45 percent, through Charlottesville and tax reform, supposed border caravans and mass shootings, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report and impeachment.
As the election approaches, the president’s approval rating becomes less important than how he’s polling against his challenger. And in the past few weeks, something has shifted. After months of Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, leading by single digits, a series of polls has recently shown him building a sizable lead. Surveys from The New York Times/Siena College and Harvard/Harris have Trump trailing by 14 and 12 points, respectively. A series of swing-state polls shows Biden tied or leading in states that Trump won comfortably in 2016.
Imagine if the National Transportation Safety Board investigated America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Coping with a pandemic is one of the most complex challenges a society can face. To minimize death and damage, leaders and citizens must orchestrate a huge array of different resources and tools. Scientists must explore the most advanced frontiers of research while citizens attend to the least glamorous tasks of personal hygiene. Physical supplies matter—test kits, protective gear—but so do intangibles, such as “flattening the curve” and public trust in official statements. The response must be global, because the virus can spread anywhere, but an effective response also depends heavily on national policies, plus implementation at the state and community level. Businesses must work with governments, and epidemiologists with economists and educators. Saving lives demands minute-by-minute attention from health-care workers and emergency crews, but it also depends on advance preparation for threats that might not reveal themselves for many years. I have heard military and intelligence officials describe some threats as requiring a “whole of nation” response, rather than being manageable with any one element of “hard” or “soft” power or even a “whole of government” approach. Saving lives during a pandemic is a challenge of this nature and magnitude.
Sixteen states have reported record caseloads since Sunday.
The American pandemic is careening out of control. Yesterday, the United States reported more than 52,000 new cases of the coronavirus, setting a new all-time daily record, according to the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic. The surge has put the country’s supply of coronavirus tests under strain, especially in some of the worst-hit states, such as Arizona, Texas, Florida, and California. But unlike in past weeks or months, the outbreak is no longer limited to a handful of states or cities. Many places across the country are seeing caseloads spike.
To the degree that the U.S. ever built an infrastructure to contain and suppress the coronavirus, it frayed this week.
Along the way, nearly every previous landmark for measuring the pandemic has been overwhelmed. The country reported about 300,000 new COVID-19 cases in the past week, more than in any previous week of the pandemic so far. This shattered the old record of more than 215,000 new cases, which was set last week. On June 16, Vice President Mike Pence bragged that the U.S. was seeing an average of 20,000 new infections a day, a decline from the April high of about 30,000 new daily cases. Since Pence’s boast, the U.S. has recorded more than 30,000 new cases on every day but four. Six days ago, the country reported more than 40,000 daily cases for the first time. Now it has smashed through the 50,000 mark.
Disney+’s filmed version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical feels dated, timeless, and vital all at once.
In an ideal world, I’d expect a Disney+ edition of Hamilton to have some real Broadway flavor. Perhaps there’d be a filmed rendering of waiting in line to have your ticket ripped at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, or a re-creation of buying an overpriced drink before taking your seat. But the stage recording of the hit musical, which starts streaming today, offers no such thing. It begins instead with a Skype clip in which the show’s writer and star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, acknowledges the sad circumstances of Hamilton’s online release: The musical wasn’t supposed to arrive on Disney+ until October 2021, but it dropped early to help distract audiences from the ongoing pandemic.
Watching the show from my couch in 2020, four years after I saw it on Broadway, was a strange throwback in more ways than one. I was reminded of the cruel reality that Broadway’s theaters will remain closed for the rest of the year because of COVID-19, a blow for an industry that relies on packed houses. Revisiting the show during another election year, it was hard not to think about how Hamilton was indelibly shaped by the more hopeful times of Barack Obama’s presidency.
The revolution wasn’t only an effort to establish independence from the British—it was also a push to preserve slavery and suppress Native American resistance.
“We hold these truths to be self evident.” Say these words, and many Americans will be able to recite what follows: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The opening words of the Declaration of Independence—and easily its most remembered part—are widely celebrated as signifying the beginning of an exceptional American history, one characterized, despite setbacks, by a progressive expansion of rights.
The closing words of the Declaration are far less known. The last of a list of 27 grievances against King George III, they read as follows: “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.” These words call attention to hard truths about America’s founding that have often been brushed aside.