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Versions of this post have appeared at Daily Kos since 2008.

We do too much "heroification" in America, according to James W. Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (one of his several books that ought to be on everybody's shelf). Like me, he thinks the word hero has been cheapened, ending up more often a description for football quarterbacks who throw perfect last-minute passes than for, say, the passerby who risks her own life to pull a child from a flooding river.

Heroification describes what textbooks, too many teachers and the likes of Lynne Cheney have done to historical figures such as the deeply racist Woodrow Wilson and a multitude of other notable Americans. The process of heroification not only turns the notorious into role models while many people who actually deserve the praise they get are turned into one-dimensional stereotypes without flaws. As if we couldn't stand to see our heroes as human beings who don't always get things right, who, in fact, sometimes behave deplorably and hypocritically.

Despite his flaws, my No. 1 personal hero is—and has been since I was introduced at age 14 to his autobiography—Frederick Douglass, the runaway slave whose persistent eloquence was one of the leading factors persuading Abraham Lincoln to bring black soldiers into the Union Army. Without those 180,000 men who ultimately fought, quite literally, for freedom, it is uncertain that the Union would have survived.

But Douglass was deeply unhappy with Lincoln in 1860, labeling him "an excellent slave hound" because of Honest Abe's support for the Fugitive Slave Act that required authorities in non-slave states to turn over runaways to their owners, or rather, most usually to bounty hunters. Once taken, the runaways were returned whence they came or often sold "down river," where a short life of overwork in the coastal cane fields or elsewhere awaited them.

After the election, Douglass and Lincoln engaged in a public and private political pas de deux right up through the president's second election.

There is more below the fold.

Lincoln's inaugural address sparked a ferocious critique from Douglass, who repeated the "slave hound" accusation. He was disgusted that the president had spent several paragraphs of that address argumentatively defending the practice of returning slaves, even repeating the Constitution's "shall be delivered up" phrase in regard to the human property the South had enshrined as their right for being part of the Union in the first place.

In Douglass' view, the effect of Lincoln's trying to hang on to slave states to save the Union by turning over runaways was tantamount to killing them since a captured runaway's life was usually very short. Lincoln was, Douglass said with that slave-hound label, no different than the dogs sent to sniff out and corner a runaway until the master came to collect him. Pretty strong stuff to characterize the guy who would become known as The Great Emancipator. But Douglass wanted action in 1861. This was the moment, one of those rare crises that a much later politician would say should never be wasted. This incipient rebellion shouldn't be soothed away with concession. For him and many other abolitionists of the time, now was the time for no more delay. But delay was exactly what Lincoln was proposing on his very first day in office.

David W. Blight writes:

It is too easy to simply conclude that the black activist was out of touch with the president’s dire situation and the necessity of pragmatic overtures for peace. At this point, his was indeed a higher law than the Constitution. Without blinking, Douglass compared slavery itself, and especially any effort to return fugitive slaves to bondage, to “murder.” In the rhetoric of the lecture platform, where Douglass had few peers, he proclaimed: “Your money or your life, says the pirate; your liberty or your life, says the slaveholder. And where is the difference between the pirate and the slaveholder?”
Douglass was for some while openly contemptuous of Lincoln after that speech. Even though Lincoln had surely hoped to soothe the slavers, by the time of the inaugural in early March 1861, seven states had already seceded and the opening cannon shots at Fort Sumter were less than six weeks away. Douglass desired a war speech, a war focused on ending slavery and one in which colonization—the era's buzzword for freeing slaves but also sending them "back" to Africa or to islands of the Caribbean—was not on the agenda. Lincoln still supported colonization as late as the final months of 1864.

As James Oakes writes in The Radical and The Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics (2007). Douglass wanted:

no war but an Abolition War; no peace but an Abolition Peace; liberty for all, chains for none; the black man a soldier in war, a laborer in peace; a voter at the South as well as the North; America his permanent home, and all Americans his fellow countrymen. Such, fellow citizens, is my idea of the mission of the war. If accomplished, our glory as a nation will be complete, our peace will flow like a river, and our foundations will be the everlasting rocks.

The inaugural response was far from Douglass' only criticism. But over time, as recounted in Paul Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick's Douglass and Lincoln: How a Revolutionary Black Leader and a Reluctant Liberator Struggled to End Slavery and Save the Union (2007), the born-into-bondage ship caulker from Maryland met the free-born rail splitter from Illinois and their collision and subsequent collusion had a tremendous impact on the course of the war, on slavery and, although Lincoln was by then dead, the post-Civil War amendments. The two men were unlikely and uncomfortable partners, but it can be argued that without that partnership the post-war landscape could have been quite different.

Soon after the war and until his death 30 years later, Douglass had strong praise for Lincoln. For example, on April 14, 1876, in a commemoration speech delivered the day before the 11th anniversary of the president's assassination, Douglass said:

Fellow-citizens, ours is no new-born zeal and devotion — merely a thing of this moment. The name of Abraham Lincoln was near and dear to our hearts in the darkest and most perilous hours of the Republic. We were no more ashamed of him when shrouded in clouds of darkness, of doubt, and defeat than when we saw him crowned with victory, honor, and glory.

Our faith in him was often taxed and strained to the uttermost, but it never failed.

When he tarried long in the mountain; when he strangely told us that we were the cause of the war; when he still more strangely told us that we were to leave the land in which we were born; when he refused to employ our arms in defense of the Union; when, after accepting our services as colored soldiers, he refused to retaliate our murder and torture as colored prisoners; when he told us he would save the Union if he could with slavery; when he revoked the Proclamation of Emancipation of General Fremont; when he refused to remove the popular commander of the Army of the Potomac, in the days of its inaction and defeat, who was more zealous in his efforts to protect slavery than to suppress rebellion; when we saw all this, and more, we were at times grieved, stunned, and greatly bewildered; but our hearts believed while they ached and bled.

Nor was this, even at that time, a blind and unreasoning superstition. Despite the mist and haze that surrounded him; despite the tumult, the hurry, and confusion of the hour, we were able to take a comprehensive view of Abraham Lincoln, and to make reasonable allowance for the circumstances of his position. We saw him, measured him, and estimated him; not by stray utterances to injudicious and tedious delegations, who often tried his patience; not by isolated facts torn from their connection; not by any partial and imperfect glimpses, caught at inopportune moments; but by a broad survey, in the light of the stern logic of great events, and in view of that divinity which shapes our ends, rough hew them how we will, we came to the conclusion that the hour and the man of our redemption had somehow met in the person of Abraham Lincoln.

It mattered little to us what language he might employ on special occasions; it mattered little to us, when we fully knew him, whether he was swift or slow in his movements; it was enough for us that Abraham Lincoln was at the head of a great movement, and was in living and earnest sympathy with that movement, which, in the nature of things, must go on until slavery should be utterly and forever abolished in the United States.

••• •••

Nearly a decade before the two men began their clash of ideas and synthesis of tactics, Douglass gave an Independence Day speech (on the fifth of July) that tells the grim truth of the era in which he lived and shows clearly from where all that anger shown in the early years of Lincoln's presidency derives. As historian Eric Foner wrote in 2004:

At an Independence Day meeting sponsored by the Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society in 1852, the former slave Frederick Douglass delivered one of the nineteenth century's greatest orations. His theme was the contradiction between American slavery and American freedom.

Douglass did not mince words. He spoke of a government that mouthed the language of liberty yet committed "crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages"; of patriotism reduced to "swelling vanity"; of hypocrisy destroying the country's "moral power abroad." Although slavery is gone, Douglass's critique remains as relevant as in 1852. But so too does his optimism that the days of empire are over, and that in the modern world abuses cannot permanently be hidden from the light of day. Douglass, not the leaders of a slave-holding republic, was the genuine patriot, who called on his listeners to reclaim the "great principles" of the Declaration from those who had defiled and betrayed them. That is a truly patriotic goal for our own Fourth of July.

Here are excerpts of the speech Douglass gave in Rochester, where he had founded the abolitionist newspaper, The North Star. To make the excerpts more readable, I have added paragraph breaks that do not appear at the linked site:
Fellow citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold that a nation's sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation's jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that the dumb might eloquently speak and the "lame man leap as an hart."

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me.

This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me by asking me to speak today? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn that it is dangerous to copy the example of nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can today take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people.

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! We wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth."

Fellow citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! Whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, today, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorry this day, "may my right hand cleave to the roof of my mouth"! To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world.

My subject, then, fellow citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine. I do not hesitate to declare with all my soul that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this Fourth of July!

Whether we turn to the declarations of the past or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the Constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery-the great sin and shame of America! "I will not equivocate, I will not excuse"; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, shall not confess to be right and just....

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not as astonishing that, while we are plowing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver, and gold; that while we are reading, writing, and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants, and secretaries, having among us lawyers doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators, and teachers; and that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hillside, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives, and children, and above all, confessing and worshiping the Christian's God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!...

What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply....

What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival. [...]

Behold the practical operation of this internal slave-trade, the American slave-trade, sustained by American politics and American religion. Here you will see men and women reared like swine for the market. You know what is a swine-drover? I will show you a man-drover. They inhabit all our Southern States. They perambulate the country, and crowd the highways of the nation, with droves of human stock. You will see one of these human flesh jobbers, armed with pistol, whip, and Bowie-knife, driving a company of a hundred men, women, and children, from the Potomac to the slave market at New Orleans.

These wretched people are to be sold singly, or in lots, to suit purchasers. They are food for the cotton-field and the deadly sugar-mill. Mark the sad procession, as it moves wearily along, and the inhuman wretch who drives them. Hear his savage yells and his blood-curdling oaths, as he hurries on his affrighted captives! There, see the old man with locks thinned and gray. Cast one glance, if you please, upon that young mother, whose shoulders are bare to the scorching sun, her briny tears falling on the brow of the babe in her arms.

See, too, that girl of thirteen, weeping, yes! weeping, as she thinks of the mother from whom she has been torn! The drove moves tardily. Heat and sorrow have nearly consumed their strength; suddenly you hear a quick snap, like the discharge of a rifle; the fetters clank, and the chain rattles simultaneously; your ears are saluted with a scream, that seems to have torn its way to the centre of your soul The crack you heard was the sound of the slave-whip; the scream you heard was from the woman you saw with the babe. Her speed had faltered under the weight of her child and her chains! that gash on her shoulder tells her to move on.

Follow this drove to New Orleans. Attend the auction; see men examined like horses; see the forms of women rudely and brutally exposed to the shock ing gaze of American slave-buyers. See this drove sold and separated forever; and never forget the deep, sad sobs that arose from that scattered multitude. Tell me, citizens, where, under the sun, you can witness a spectacle more fiendish and shocking. Yet this is but a glance at the American slave-trade, as it exists, at this moment, in the ruling part of the United States. [...]

Americans! your republican politics, not less than your republican religion, are flagrantly inconsistent. You boast of your love of liberty, your superior civilization, and your pure Christianity, while the whole political power of the nation (as embodied in the two great political parties) is solemnly pledged to support and perpetuate the enslavement of three millions of your countrymen. You hurl your anathemas at the crowned headed tyrants of Russia and Austria and pride yourselves on your Democratic institutions, while you yourselves consent to be the mere tools and body-guards of the tyrants of Virginia and Carolina.

You invite to your shores fugitives of oppression from abroad, honor them with banquets, greet them with ovations, cheer them, toast them, salute them, protect them, and pour out your money to them like water; but the fugitives from oppression in your own land you advertise, hunt, arrest, shoot, and kill. You glory in your refinement and your universal education; yet you maintain a system as barbarous and dreadful as ever stained the character of a nation-a system begun in avarice, supported in pride, and perpetuated in cruelty.

You shed tears over fallen Hungary, and make the sad story of her wrongs the theme of your poets, statesmen, and orators, till your gallant sons are ready to fly to arms to vindicate her cause against the oppressor; but, in regard to the ten thousand wrongs of the American slave, you would enforce the strictest silence, and would hail him as an enemy of the nation who dares to make those wrongs the subject of public discourse! You are all on fire at the mention of liberty for France or for Ireland; but are as cold as an iceberg at the thought of liberty for the enslaved of America.

You discourse eloquently on the dignity of labor; yet, you sustain a system which, in its very essence, casts a stigma upon labor. You can bare your bosom to the storm of British artillery to throw off a three-penny tax on tea; and yet wring the last hard earned farthing from the grasp of the black laborers of your country. You profess to believe "that, of one blood, God made all nations of men to dwell on the face of all the earth," and hath commanded all men, everywhere, to love one another; yet you notoriously hate (and glory in your hatred) all men whose skins are not colored like your own. You declare before the world, and are understood by the world to declare that you "hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; and are endowed by their Creator with certain in alienable rights; and that among these are, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and yet, you hold securely, in a bondage which, according to your own Thomas Jefferson, "is worse than ages of that which your fathers rose in rebellion to oppose," a seventh part of the inhabitants of your country.

Fellow-citizens, I will not enlarge further on your national inconsistencies. The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretense, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad: it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing and a bye-word to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union. it fetters your progress; it is the enemy of improvement; the deadly foe of education; it fosters pride; it breeds insolence; it promotes vice; it shelters crime; it is a curse to the earth that supports it; and yet you cling to it as if it were the sheet anchor of all your hopes.

Oh! be warned! be warned! a horrible reptile is coiled up in your nation's bosom; the venomous creature is nursing at the tender breast of your youthful republic; for the love of God, tear away, and fling from you the hideous monster, and let the weight of twenty millions crush and destroy it forever! [...]

Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery. "The arm of the Lord is not shortened," and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from "the Declaration of Independence," the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 11:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Black Kos community and Hellraisers Journal.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Lies My Teacher Told Me--a must read book (58+ / 0-)

    Frederick Douglass always gets a rec

    thanks for reposting this, MB.  I look for this speech every 4th of July

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 11:04:53 AM PDT

  •  One supposes you could replace the word (19+ / 0-)

    "slavery" with "corporate control" and still come out pretty close to target:

    Fellow-citizens, I will not enlarge further on your national inconsistencies. The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretense, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad: it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing and a bye-word to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union. it fetters your progress; it is the enemy of improvement; the deadly foe of education; it fosters pride; it breeds insolence; it promotes vice; it shelters crime; it is a curse to the earth that supports it; and yet you cling to it as if it were the sheet anchor of all your hopes.

    Is it better to lose than be lost?

    by Publius2008 on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 11:10:31 AM PDT

  •  Herofication (11+ / 0-)
    The process of heroification not only turns the notorious into role models while many people who actually deserve the praise they get are turned into one-dimensional stereotypes without flaws.
    It also makes emulation of the hero seem beyond our  capabilities, and in that way is a profound discouragement for us to strive.
    •  Why everybody should be President and Senator is (4+ / 0-)

      not good enough, that's what heroification means to me.

      The old Hero please kick me through the goal posts of accomplishment syndrome.

      And the cancellation of any value because of a human fault. John Edwards was right about 2 Americas, damn it.

      Child forgotten in car? -- Use open source E-Z Baby Saver -- Andrew Pelham, 11yo inventor E-Z Baby Saver

      by 88kathy on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 11:25:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's my main complaint with Edwards. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rhauenstein, a2nite

        He was right on the 2 Americas them, and had my support for that, alone.
        Then he crapped in his nest, and did much harm to the cause of Populism.

        Severely Socialist 47283

        by ichibon on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 12:38:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What information is TMI? Many people didn't know (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          a2nite, Kit RMP

          FDR was confined to a wheel chair.  How much information do we truly need? And, yes, Edwards didn't end up in the best light, but to destroy the man completely? That's heroification.

          Heroification is the exalted hero and the destroyed hero. It's TV thinking. The exalted hero is impossible to be and the destroyed hero is impossible to overcome.

          Child forgotten in car? -- Use open source E-Z Baby Saver -- Andrew Pelham, 11yo inventor E-Z Baby Saver

          by 88kathy on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 12:55:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  “By giving too much importance to fine actions, (0+ / 0-)

      ... one may end by paying an indirect but powerful tribute to evil, because in so doing one implies that such fine actions are only valuable because they are rare, and that malice or indifference are far more common motives in the actions of men.”
      ― Albert Camus, The Plague

  •  Lincoln and Douglass (38+ / 0-)

    Perfect exemplars of how to effect change, within the government and without.  Douglass could not have come near achieving his aims without a strong (if initially reluctant) ally in the White House.  Lincoln might well have not changed his goals in the war but for relentless criticism and exhortation by his strongest critics like Douglass.

    Both are needed for change to happen.  The greatest change our country has ever seen illustrates this better than any other.  We should remember that when assessing the state of our politics today, and the value of critics outside the party process.

    I stand with triv33. Shame on her attackers.

    by Dallasdoc on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 11:16:33 AM PDT

    •  100% agreement. I didn't learn about... (40+ / 0-)

      ...Douglass's pushing of Lincoln until several years after I read his autobiography, but it's one I will never forget. Reforms rarely if ever begin in legislatures; they begin in the streets. But they are confirmed in the legislature or Congress.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 11:29:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lincoln hated slavery but could not it alone (12+ / 0-)

        He hated slavery from the beginning.

        He voted against annexation of slave state of Texas and was thrown out of office.

        The  North was not abolitionist in 1860 (despite the lies of the Southern secessionist war hawks.).  He couldn't have led armed suppression of the slavers by demanding abolition in 1860.

         He couldn't have been elected president by advocating abolition in 1860. Fremont - openly abolitionist Republican got maybe 35% of the popular vote in 1856, just four years before Lincoln won.

        But when the North was ready he signed the Emancipation Proclamation.  That was 2 years into the brutal war.

        And the emancipation proclamation was a lawyers bluff. He had no statutory authority to issue it. He relied solely on a broad and (legally) questionable interpretation do his vague constitutional power as commander in chief.

        So in 1865 - after another 2'years of war he got the 13th amendment passed.

        But it took a terrible war to make this happen.  And Lincoln took the right steps at the right times to lead the nation through each step.

        Douglas recognized all this in the end.

        •  Lincoln's right steps were taken in great part... (23+ / 0-)

          ...because Douglass was a fierce advocate for the cause. Had it not been for him, the chances of Lincoln deciding to recruit blacks into the Union Army would have been far less, and there are not a few historians who believe that without those troops the war might have been lost or played out as a stalemate, which would have amounted to the same thing.

          I think Douglass's point of view after the Civil War was that Lincoln had come around to the right way of thinking. And he had high praise for his having done so.

          Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 12:43:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yep, often the right thing is done only under (12+ / 0-)

            significant and persistent pressure.

            Power rarely cedes to polite requests.

            Keep the faith, MB.

            So #notallwomen is cool here. Who knew? Ahh, the New Big Tent...

            by JVolvo on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 01:27:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •   Thanks for this great diary; I half agree w/you (0+ / 0-)

            Certainly Douglass's persistent advocacy for the right thing helped lead.

            And we'll never really be able to know what Lincoln was really thinking.  He was politic. He let events unfold before he let his actions show his true convictions.

            We know as a youth he saw slaves being transported to the deep south, saw slaves sold, and told friends how much he hated seeing that.

            We know he voted against funding the Texas war.

            But we also certainly know in the 1850s he spoke about deporting slaves - 'colonizing'.  And during the 1850s he did not advocate abolition or civil rights for blacks.

            I interpret his silence, as waiting for the right moment when the nation, even the north would have rejected abolition or arming African-Americans as an 1860 Presidential platform.

          •  Such an impressive human being, FD (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JVolvo

            I'm glad to know more about him.

        •  I like to reread Lincoln's Cooper Union Address (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Meteor Blades

          on July 4 in addition to Douglass's speech. Lincoln made it clear how firm he was on preventing the expansion of slavery, but he repeated several times his and the Republican Party's intention to leave it alone where it existed at that time. But the slave power, like Republicans of today in dealing with Obama, refused to accept his word, and insisted that he and the Republicans of that time intended from the first to destroy slavery. As you can see, Constitutional Originalism and the Original Intent of the Founders were Southern Dog Whistles for supporting slavery and White Supremacism even then.

          Cooper Union Address
          New York, New York
          February 27, 1860

          In his speech last autumn, at Columbus, Ohio, as reported in "The New-York Times," Senator Douglas said:

          "Our fathers, when they framed the Government under which we live, understood this question just as well, and even better, than we do now."

          I fully indorse this, and I adopt it as a text for this discourse. I so adopt it because it furnishes a precise and an agreed starting point for a discussion between Republicans and that wing of the Democracy headed by Senator Douglas. It simply leaves the inquiry: "What was the understanding those fathers had of the question mentioned?"

          What is the frame of government under which we live?

          The answer must be: "The Constitution of the United States." That Constitution consists of the original, framed in 1787, (and under which the present government first went into operation,) and twelve subsequently framed amendments, the first ten of which were framed in 1789.

          Who were our fathers that framed the Constitution? I suppose the "thirty-nine" who signed the original instrument may be fairly called our fathers who framed that part of the present Government. It is almost exactly true to say they framed it, and it is altogether true to say they fairly represented the opinion and sentiment of the whole nation at that time. Their names, being familiar to nearly all, and accessible to quite all, need not now be repeated.

          I take these "thirty-nine," for the present, as being "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live."

          What is the question which, according to the text, those fathers understood "just as well, and even better than we do now?"

          It is this: Does the proper division of local from federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, forbid our Federal Government to control as to slavery in our Federal Territories?

          Upon this, Senator Douglas holds the affirmative, and Republicans the negative. This affirmation and denial form an issue; and this issue - this question - is precisely what the text declares our fathers understood "better than we."

          Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

          by Mokurai on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 10:00:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  This^^^^^ (12+ / 0-)

        I have been posting over and over that real change comes from the ground up, usually in the form of a social movement.  Politicians do not lead change.  In fact, they are very reluctant to embrace change. They embrace it only after it has become very apparent that the people will no longer stay with the status quo.

        "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West "...isn't the problem here that the government takes on, arbitrarily and without justification, an adversarial attitude towards its citizenry?" ~ SouthernLiberalinMD

        by gulfgal98 on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 01:51:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  yep, yep, we should remember the value (6+ / 0-)

      of critics outside the party process ... here as well.

      We know a hell of a lot, but we understand very little. Manfred Max-Neef

      by mimi on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 01:52:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The same with FDR and Frances Perkins (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chrisa1, Meteor Blades

      FDR started out thinking that austerity was the way forward, and Perkins had to educate him on the possibilities for what we know since as The New Deal.

      Similarly with the Marshall Plan. The initial plan for Germany was deindustrialization, turning it into a purely agrarian society.

      Men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources.
      Abba Eban (A similar sentiment is often misattributed to Winston Churchill)

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 08:45:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm a hero. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi

    Just ask my wife.

    Famine in America by 2050: the post-peak oil American apocalypse.

    by bigjacbigjacbigjac on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 11:16:59 AM PDT

  •  Slavery museum (23+ / 0-)

    This week's New Yorker article on the 9/11 museum/memorial in NYC notes that there are 70 holocaust museums in the world, but no museums of slavery. I think it is time to create a slavery museum in the U.S. where we can see the instruments of slavery. Perhaps the experience of such a museum will, like the holocaust institutions, strive to ensure that we "never forget".

    I recently read "The Invention of Wings" and have not been able to get the images of the torture devices of slavery out of my mind. Seeing these artifacts in a museum might also make us think about what is done to people in our prisons today.

    An exhibit about tearing families apart would also have contemporary resonance.

    It is way past time for reparations and the beginning of a discussion about how to acknowledge and live with our nation's history of slavery. Until that happens and is absorbed by our culture, we will continue to pretend that slavery in the U.S. is a thing of the past.

    "When you give back all your ill-gotten gains, you're a reformed crook. When you keep most of the loot and only give back a small part of it, you're a philanthropist." - Alfred E. Newman

    by Abstract668 on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 11:20:52 AM PDT

    •  This should be expanded into a diary. ... (19+ / 0-)

      ...One thing that long bothered me is that when towns and cities get around to naming streets or parks for important African American leaders, it's almost always Martin Luther King Jr. who gets the nod. A great man and deserving of the commemorative streets, avenues and boulevards. But Douglass is almost never so honored. We have what seems like thousands of counties, cities, streets, schools and libraries named after Thom. Jefferson and George Washington and other slave owners, but how many are named after the foes of slave owners?

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 11:35:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's not completely true. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson, mayim, SoCalSal, Chi, high uintas

      In our criminal justice system, a Republican is presumed innocent until the 2nd Coming. - Gooserock

      by ExpatGirl on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 11:36:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the link (0+ / 0-)

        Not a slavery museum, like a holocaust museum, but what looks like an excellent exhibit. Thank you!

        "When you give back all your ill-gotten gains, you're a reformed crook. When you keep most of the loot and only give back a small part of it, you're a philanthropist." - Alfred E. Newman

        by Abstract668 on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 04:32:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  indeed. I vote Rochester, site of his newspaper (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades, OleHippieChick

      and the first riot during the fiery summer of '64.

      It has a smug/proud history just as Douglass talked about, I remember the city 'fathers' clucking 'but we treat our Negroes well, they love us'..as buildings burned all around them.

      The paternalistic exploitations of the northern cities of the southern blacks who emigrated from the racist Klan infested south had finally exploded.

      I remember being shocked at my ignorance when I discovered Frederic Douglass was black, my high school education was always so truncated to paraphrasing the debates if even getting anywhere near quotes, interesting I always think of John Brown as black as well as Douglass being white. In fact my ignorance was so complete I still 'think' John Brown looks like Douglass..cause he was an angry black man/ guns...now I don't remember how my wires got crossed with that mistake, I'm not saying I was taught that on purpose, but I know my history lessons were truncated, especially in this area that so goes against the grain of Merika, we're no.1!!!

      In elementary school I read widely and available books about great inventors seemed to paper over the fact that many of them were black..so shocked again was I to discover this about some of the great inventors I thought I had read all about.

      sigh...thanks for this again and again MB.

      never would my tidy whitey suburban 50's abolitionist north education have let me read this scary and prescient call:

       

        Americans! your republican politics, not less than your republican religion, are flagrantly inconsistent. You boast of your love of liberty, your superior civilization, and your pure Christianity, while the whole political power of the nation (as embodied in the two great political parties) is solemnly pledged to support and perpetuate the enslavement of three millions of your countrymen. You hurl your anathemas at the crowned headed tyrants of Russia and Austria and pride yourselves on your Democratic institutions, while you yourselves consent to be the mere tools and body-guards of the tyrants of Virginia and Carolina.

         You invite to your shores fugitives of oppression from abroad, honor them with banquets, greet them with ovations, cheer them, toast them, salute them, protect them, and pour out your money to them like water; but the fugitives from oppression in your own land you advertise, hunt, arrest, shoot, and kill. You glory in your refinement and your universal education; yet you maintain a system as barbarous and dreadful as ever stained the character of a nation-a system begun in avarice, supported in pride, and perpetuated in cruelty.

      and sadly, au courant.

      This machine kills Fascists.

      by KenBee on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 10:07:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  THIS (0+ / 0-)

      Very important idea. US needs it for our own collective ownership. It needs to be in DC for that reason.

  •  Douglas was as great visionary and scathing (16+ / 0-)

    social critic. His importance shouldn't be overlooked.

    "The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations." ~ Thomas Jefferson

    by Lefty Coaster on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 11:22:26 AM PDT

  •  Who better than James Earl Jones voice of (14+ / 0-)

    gravitas to read Douglass' words. I wish I could hear him read the entire thing.

    The dinosaurs never saw that asteroid coming. What's your excuse?
    ~~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

    by smileycreek on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 11:28:02 AM PDT

  •  I've been negative and dubious about President (5+ / 0-)

    Obama.  These words, made me rethink:

    ...were able to take a comprehensive view of Abraham Lincoln, and to make reasonable allowance for the circumstances of his position. We saw him, measured him, and estimated him; not by stray utterances to injudicious and tedious delegations, who often tried his patience; not by isolated facts torn from their connection; not by any partial and imperfect glimpses, caught at inopportune moments; but by a broad survey, in the light of the stern logic of great events, and in view of that divinity which shapes our ends, rough hew them how we will, we came to the conclusion that the hour and the man of our redemption had somehow met in the person of Abraham Lincoln.
    All the disappointments, all the failures, of Barack Obama . . . Guantanamo, TBTF, NSA, etc., ad infinitum . . . well, maybe not so much.  Hope endures.  Perhaps, sometimes, maybe even our lifetimes, it may be justified.

    "The opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”" -- Paul Dirac

    by Rikon Snow on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 11:42:48 AM PDT

  •  Applies even moreso today. (6+ / 0-)

    Imperialism is racism.

     “Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.”

    "Fragmented and confused, we have no plan to combat any of this, but are looking to be saved by the very architects of our ruination."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 11:49:21 AM PDT

    •  We could put an end to poverty worldwide (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chrisa1

      and with it all of the oppressions of the poor and helpless. Maybe even war. It would require some tens of billions of dollars annually for educational technology and materials and for the essential infrastructure of renewable energy and communications to get every child in the world, about a billion of them at a time, to be able to get or where necessary create good jobs, and then to tackle the remaining problems themselves, armed with a decent tax base and the ability to get together and organize around any issue that they find to be of importance to them.

      The economic return to the world for making this investment would be in the tens of trillions of dollars annually. The social return is incalculable. But we are too short-sighted and narrow-minded to even discuss the possibility. We are in the

      First they ignore you
      part of the Gandhi paradigm.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 10:41:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sometimes on Kos it's rarely pointed out that (10+ / 0-)

    after meetings with Lincoln Douglass had tremendous respect and enthusiasm for the President.  He told a friend that the President greeted him as an equal with no regard for the color of his skin, and said that "Lincoln was a remarkable man," and was doing all that "circumstances would permit him to do." He might rail at Lincoln's "slowness" when not with him, but after a meeting, it was always a different story.

    Also there's this famous quote:

    "Viewing him from the genuine abolitionist ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed cold, tardy, weak, and unequal to the task. {sound familiar?-ed.} But viewing him from the sentiments of his people, which he was bound to respect, then his actions were swift, bold, radical, and decisive. Taking the man in the whole, {italics mine} balancing the tremendous magnitude of the situation, and the necessary means to ends, Infinite Wisdom has rarely sent a man into the world
    more perfectly suited to his mission than Abraham Lincoln."

    There is SO much here to ponder.

    The politician, the office holder, even a great one, has one timeline and agenda, and the activist another. The activist can move as swiftly as they want; the politician has to consider everything: "the necessary means to ends." In the end Douglass saw what Lincoln was up against: "the tremendous magnitude of the situation." And in the end
    ("taking the man in the whole") he found Lincoln great.

    I think we should all judge people "in the whole," and even over time.

    This "dance" between Douglass and Lincoln I find one of the most inspirational in our history. Love 'em both!

    "The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass."--Wendell Berry

    by Wildthumb on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 12:12:14 PM PDT

  •  The dark and stormy days of our past leave (5+ / 0-)

    a shadow upon us still, all these long years later.

    Slavery may be now part of History, but it's influence on our American society still exists. Racism is but the leftover stain of Slavery, and it is beyond refutation still alive and well, in America.

    No wonder Douglass is your hero.  A sad, sad commentary on the land I love. Perhaps by our Tri-centennial we'll have moved further down the path towards that promised more perfeckt Union.

    Peace to you and your family this July 4th, from me and mine.

    #LLAP


    "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

    by Angie in WA State on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 12:32:01 PM PDT

  •  'One can not be a bigot and a patriot.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smileycreek, YucatanMan, KenBee

    ..at the same time' - a paraphrased quote by Van Jones that was repeated by an attorney named Gyasi Ross recently on the Ed Show.

    Gyasi Ross was speaking out on the Murrieta mob in California:

    "It's ugly. It's unfortunate. I understand the need for a nuanced and detailed discussion regarding meaningful immigration reform, but the rhetoric and the actions taken are just hateful, and they're racist in fact.

    You know the Homeland Security say that there are 11 million people who are living here in the United States illegally. That's what they say.
    I submit that if we were to apply the Homeland Security criteria  for residency and citizenship retroactively, there would be about 300 million people living here illegally.

    A lot of people don't understand the history that allowed them to be here, and their folks and family to be here in the first place. It's hypocrisy I suppose"

     - Gyasi Ross

    Gyasi Ross then went on to explain the need for teaching and awareness of our history as a people. That if we all knew more and remembered our past as a nation of immigrants we would be a better nation.

    Every time I read the words of Jefferson Davis, I don't know what I could say that would mean much, at least not that wasn't already said so well and with such a deeper grasp of things, but it always teaches me something new. And that enables me to make connections as I learn.

    These words by Gyasi Ross and another man named Enrique Morones of Border Angels are two of those connections that reminds me of what so many have either never learned, forgotten or have been misinformed into believing something that is wrong to believe, and that we have much more to do and learn.  

    Jefferson Davis was a teacher. He taught us. All of us - imo - as well as all the great work he did as a man.

    Douglass did not mince words. He spoke of a government that mouthed the language of liberty yet committed "crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages"; of patriotism reduced to "swelling vanity"; of hypocrisy destroying the country's "moral power abroad."

    Although slavery is gone, Douglass's critique remains as relevant as in 1852. But so too does his optimism that the days of empire are over, and that in the modern world abuses cannot permanently be hidden from the light of day.

     Douglass, not the leaders of a slave-holding republic, was the genuine patriot, who called on his listeners to reclaim the "great principles" of the Declaration from those who had defiled and betrayed them.
    That is a truly patriotic goal for our own Fourth of July.

    Thank you MB  this 4th of July
     
  •  Kudos to My 5th Grade Teacher, Ms. Axe (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee, Meteor Blades

    This was 1966.  Ms. Axe read our class Douglas's Autobiography chapter by chapter.  By the time I graduated from High School, I had long forgotten his name, but I never forgot his story.  An incredible graphic description of what is was to live as a slave.  

    I knew at the time -- I was then ten years old -- that one of the major shapes of how I would look at the world -- a foundational outlook, if you will -- had just been laid down.

    Thank you, Ms. Axe.

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 02:32:48 PM PDT

  •  Don't believe everything Loewen says (0+ / 0-)

    "Lies My Teacher Told Me" claims that at one time black jockeys were barred from riding in the Kentucky Derby.  I was born in Louisville and have have always followed horse racing, and I KNOW that's flat wrong.  

    Black jockeys won 11 of the first 15 Derbies, and some of them had learned their craft after being born into slavery.  After slavery was abolished and more kinds of work became available to African-Americans, especially those who moved to cities, fewer black men became jockeys.  In fact, some of the ex-slave jockeys had trouble keeping their weight down because there was no Massa limiting their food intake so they wouldn't gain weight.

    But there was never, repeat NEVER, an outright ban on black jockeys in the Derby in particular, or in thoroughbred racing in general.   I wrote to Loewen and told him so, and his reply acknowledged that I probably do know more about the Derby than he does.  (Probably??)

    He's still never corrected that error in subsequent editions of his book.

    •  Perhaps a link or citation would be helpful... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      YucatanMan, Eric Nelson, KenBee, navajo

      ...since my reading indicates that after 1904 there were only a few black jockeys at any of the tracks. You say that fewer blacks became jockeys because other jobs opened up to them and some ex-slave jockeys couldn't keep their weight down. That may well be, but why not mention the fact that the KKK issued death threats against the 1902 winner Jimmy Winkfield?

      Subsequently, white jockeys literally rode blacks off the track, and sometimes using their whips on those jockeys during the race. The last black rider at the Derby until 14 years ago was Henry King in 1921. From 1921 until 2000, not a single black jockey rode in the Derby, and very few in other venues.

      So, while the Derby may not have officially banned blacks, those 79 years without a single black jockey sounds to me suspiciously like a de facto ban.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 04:01:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Read Loewen's words in context... (0+ / 0-)

        He implies that the "ban" on black jockeys in the Derby was a Churchill Downs rule or a Kentucky state law.  Of course racism played a part in the disappearance of black jockeys AND trainers, but there was never a rule or law banning them from the Derby.

        Certainly black jockeys took their share of abuse from their white counterparts.  But ALL jockeys, white or black, abused each other; before the introduction of film cameras, a rider was expected to use every trick in his arsenal as long as the stewards didn't see.  Eddie Arcaro began riding before cameras, and he freely admitted that he gave as good as he got.

        •  Here is what Loewen actually wrote... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          navajo, Mokurai

          ...on page 163 of the 2007 edition:

          During the nadir, segregation increase everywhere. Jackie Robinson was not the first black player in major league baseball. Blacks had played in the major leagues in the nineteenth century, but by 1889 whites had forced them out. In 1911 the Kentucky Derby eliminated black jockeys after they won fifteen of the first twenty-eight derbies.
          No implication there about a law. Not even a rule. They eliminated them.

          Until 1997, two years after the publication of Loewen's first edition of Lies it was widely thought that the last black jockey to compete in the Kentucky Derby was Jess Conley in 1911. But then it was discovered (by Kentucky Derby Museum researchers that black jockey Henry King rode in 1921. Very few black jockeys after 1902 and one black jockey in the 10 years from 1911-1921. One black jockey in the Kentucky Derby in 89 years and zero in 79 years. Sounds to me like they were, in fact, eliminated.

          Equal abuse? Puhleez. Reality as described by Christopher Klein:

          Then, suddenly, the rich African-American tradition at Churchill Downs ended. The rising tide of institutional racism that swept across Gilded Age America finally seeped into the world of horse racing. Jim Crow was on the ascent, and the U.S. Supreme Court itself blessed segregation in the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision. Emboldened by the societal changes, resentful white jockeys at northern raceways conspired to force blacks off the track, in some cases literally. During the 1900 racing season, white jockeys in New York warned trainers and owners not to mount any black riders if they expected to win. They carried out their threats by boxing in black jockeys and riding them into—and sometimes over—the rails. In a cruel irony, free sons of former slaves felt the sting of whips directed their ways during races. Race officials looked the other way. Owners realized that black riders had little chance of winning given the interference. Even Willie Simms, the only African-American jockey to win all three of the Triple Crown events, had to beg for a mount.
          "Don't believe everything Loewen says"? I don't see anything erroneous in his statement. Like every author describing a huge range of issues, condensing is required. So chide Loewen for not writing more on the subject, but if he had it certainly wouldn't have made the Derby look any less racist.

          Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 12:01:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  What's missing from politics today (0+ / 0-)

    to make reasonable allowance for the circumstances of his position

    What's that? Context? OH NOES

  •  Douglass was also a hardcore feminist, pushing ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades

    Douglass was also a hardcore feminist, pushing for full equality back when even few feminist leaders did so.

    •  He was VP nominee on the Equal Rights Party ticket (0+ / 0-)

      in the 1872 presidential election, with Victoria Woodhull at the top of the ticket.  But he was nominated without being asked first!  hehe
      So he didn't recognize that nomination, he instead served as one of Grant's electoral college members for the state of NY.  Indeed, he was the member of that delegation that actually delivered NY's electoral votes to Congress to be counted.

    •  Not always. There was a huge schism... (0+ / 0-)

      ...between him and some of the leading feminists after the Civil War when Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth and Susan B. Anthony opposed the Reconstruction amendments because they excluded women from suffrage.

      Douglass and many other abolitionists (these women had supported abolition strongly) said black men should get the franchise first; later women could get theirs Stanton et al. said this would mean women would have to wait for years. She was right, but probably didn't figure it would be more than 50 years before nationwide suffrage for women was enacted. She viewed it as betrayal, particularly since Douglass had said at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 that he dared not claim a right which he would not concede to woman. (What he wrote in his newspaper, the North Star, in support of Seneca Falls is short and fiery and worth reading.)

      For years, Douglass and Stanton did not speak. She, sadly, dipped into racism in describing her old friend. He always praised her role in the emancipation movement and spoke strongly for women's rights for the last 25 years of his life. Eventually, the two reconciled.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 12:47:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades

    I recall going through the Lincoln Memorial in Springfield IL, and the most compelling display was a series of dioramas that had voices of those who were criticizing President Lincoln`s policies. Frederic Douglass had the most stinging dissent, and I will be forever impressed by his eloquence and forthright manner in making his essential points. Douglass was the intellectual equal to the President, and there is no doubt of his importance in turning the policies of the Lincoln administration toward abolition.

  •  I'm very late to this diary, but just want to s... (0+ / 0-)

    I'm very late to this diary, but just want to say thank you for it. So moving to read Douglass's words. I think the optimism that he expressed at the end of his speech can be applied to the present - at least I hope so. Slaves are no longer (openly) bought and sold in this country, a black man is President, and in spite of the scary stuff we see happening every day, the principles America was founded on are still the principles that we, as a country, believe in. I'm also "cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age" - our age. I really don't think we're going to go backwards, in spite of the efforts of some.

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