Frederick Douglass on the 4th of July

Every year on the 4th of July, like clockwork, the Left invariably posts Frederick Douglass' infamous 1852 speech "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" Douglass, himself an ex-slave, was at the time critical of the United States and the Constitution, which he mistakenly believed was a slaveholding instrument.

The self-loathing Left of course never misses an opportunity to bash their own country (which they ironically never seem to leave). What they don't tell you is Douglass changed his opinion once he actually read the Constitution for himself. In his 1892 autobiography, Life and times of Frederick Douglass, he wrote:

After a time, a careful reconsideration of the subject convinced me that there was no necessity for dissolving the "union between the northern and southern States"; that to seek this dissolution was no part of my duty as an abolitionist; that to abstain from voting was to refuse to exercise a legitimate and powerful means for abolishing slavery; and that the Constitution of the United States not only contained no guarantees in favor of slavery, but, on the contrary, was in its letter and spirit an anti-slavery instrument, demanding the abolition of slavery as a condition of its own existence as the supreme law of the land.

Douglas had gotten his negative views about the Constitution from fellow abolitionists, but then changed his mind once he studied it for himself:

My first opinions were naturally derived and honestly entertained. Brought directly, when I escaped from slavery, into contact with abolitionists who regarded the Constitution as a slaveholding instrument, and finding their views supported by the united and entire history of every department of the government, it is not strange that I assumed the Constitution to be just what these friends made it seem to be. I was bound, not only by their superior knowledge, to take their opinions in respect to this subject, as the true ones, but also because I had no means of showing the unsoundness of these opinions. But for the responsibility of conducting a public journal, and the necessity imposed upon me of meeting opposite views from abolitionists outside of New England, I should in all probability have remained firm in my disunion views. My new circumstances compelled me to re-think the whole subject, and to study with some care not only the just and proper rules of legal interpretation, but the origin, design, nature, rights, powers, and duties of civil governments, and also the relations which human beings sustain to it. By such a course of thought and reading I was conducted to the conclusion that the Constitution of the United States--inaugurated to "form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty"--could not well have been designed at the same time to maintain and perpetuate a system of rapine and murder like slavery, especially as not one word can be found in the Constitution to authorize such a belief.

Of course they never mention this part when they talk about his 1852 speech. It should be remembered that the slave trade, which we inherited from the British, was abolished in 1808, 32 years after our founding. And slavery was ended in 1865, a mere 89 years after our founding. Think about that, slavery was ended within a single generation. That was a remarkably short period of time considering the institution of slavery had universally existed since time immemorial. Many countries have fought wars to acquire slaves, but the United States was unique in that it fought a war to end slavery. Happy 4th of July!

Views: 29

Comment by Jerseygal on July 4, 2017 at 11:42pm

This is good piece on a quote of convenience.  Again, it is that one way street, where something said earlier in one's life is quote-worthy, even when that person's view had changed over the years.  In this case, the person is elevated, even though it doesn't reflect where he went on his life journey.


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