‘The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro’ - Frederick Douglass, July 4, 1852

‘What to the Slave is the Fourth of July’
History • Views: 43,406

From PBS:

During the 1850s, Frederick Douglass typically spent about six months of the year travelling extensively, giving lectures. During one winter — the winter of 1855-1856 — he gave about 70 lectures during a tour that covered four to five thousand miles. And his speaking engagements did not halt at the end of a tour. From his home in Rochester, New York, he took part in local abolition-related events.

On July 5, 1852, Douglass gave a speech at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, held at Rochester’s Corinthian Hall. It was biting oratory, in which the speaker told his audience, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” And he asked them, “Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day?

Read on…

The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro
by Frederick Douglas
Rochester, New York
July 5, 1852

Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men, too great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory….

Frederick Douglass - Circa 1848

…Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? 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.”

Continue reading at PBS.

As read by actor Danny Glover:

Note that the speech continues beyond Mr. Glover’s interpretation.

Hat tip:

Further reading:

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62 comments

1 BARACK THE VOTE  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 1:57:41pm

Fantastic post Gus, I hope everyone reads it. Thanks so much for posting this.
I'm midway through one of your last links and loving it.

2 researchok  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 2:12:25pm

A must read. Needs to be highlighted.

TY

3 wrenchwench  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 2:21:30pm

Really great. Thanks, Gus.

4 Charles Johnson  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 2:30:46pm

Promoted! Great read.

5 Gus  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 2:34:43pm

re: #4 Charles Johnson

Promoted! Great read.

Thanks. For anyone else on Twitter just a note that AfricanBurialGround
(@AFBurialGrndNPS)
is a great follow. That's the Twitter account for African Burial Ground National Monument in Manhattan.

6 Stanghazi  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 2:44:31pm

Reading that brings a tear on the 4th. Because our country has been a flawed, struggling, piece of work. In progress, with our strength, improving.

Ha, that sounds (to me) pretty patriotically poetic. PPP

7 Gus  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 2:48:26pm

re: #6 Residence: Hopeandchangeistan 2012

Reading that brings a tear on the 4th. Because our country has been a flawed, struggling, piece of work. In progress, with our strength, improving.

Ha, that sounds (to me) pretty patriotically poetic. PPP

One can only imagine what it would have been like to be in such a position. To be a shackled slave like an object or piece of material -- an owned man or woman. Even after the Civil War. For me, this is not so long ago in the history of not only this nation but modern civilization. This speech having been given only 160 years ago.

8 dragonfire1981  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 2:49:33pm

OT but this is awkward.

I am at a 4th of July gathering and one of my married male friends (whose wife is here) is shamelessly flirting with an also married female friend (whose husband isn't here) of the host. He's doing this while his wife is but a few feet away. Either he doesn't realize how this is looking or he doesn't care. You'd think our obvious unease at the moment would tip him off.

9 Stanghazi  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 2:52:06pm

re: #8 dragonfire1981

OT but this is awkward.

I am at a 4th of July gathering and one of my married male friends (whose wife is here) is shamelessly flirting with an also married female friend (whose husband isn't here) of the host. He's doing this while his wife is but a few feet away. Either he doesn't realize how this is looking or he doesn't care. You'd think our obvious unease at the moment would tip him off.

Just another day in America! Or France. Or probably Teheran.

10 BARACK THE VOTE  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 2:52:09pm

re: #8 dragonfire1981

OT but this is awkward.

I am at a 4th of July gathering and one of my married male friends (whose wife is here) is shamelessly flirting with an also married female friend (whose husband isn't here) of the host. He's doing this while his wife is but a few feet away. Either he doesn't realize how this is looking or he doesn't care. You'd think our obvious unease at the moment would tip him off.

Dr. Jimmah says: "He's a wanker, and the quicker she realises it the better it is for her."

Only he said it in Scots, which I can't spell./

11 Ayeless in Ghazi  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:04:31pm

OT: If you have run out of booze and want to get more pished - drink coffee and eat a high protein snack. It will get ye fucked withoot a doot. Sends your digestive systerm intae def con one (i.e processes whatever you've swalleyed toute suite)

From the annals of Scottish Wisdom vol 6 chapter 12: Getting mare Pished

12 Stanghazi  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:06:31pm

re: #11 Aye Pod

OT: If you have run out of booze and want to get more pished - drink coffee and eat a high protein snack. It will get ye fucked withoot a doot. Sends your digestive systerm intae def con one (i.e processes whatever you've swalleyed toute suite)

From the annals of Scottish Wisdom vol 6 chapter 12: Getting mare Pished

You are smart. I just send someone to the store.

13 researchok  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:06:56pm

re: #11 Aye Pod

It's that kind of advice that makes the UK government wonder if the Scots can manage independence.

///

14 Gus  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:09:02pm

Gotta run an errand. BBL Later Ice and Jimmah!

15 wrenchwench  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:10:30pm

re: #12 Residence: Hopeandchangeistan 2012

You are smart. I just send someone to the store.

Did you just send Gus to the store?

16 Ayeless in Ghazi  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:11:22pm

re: #12 Residence: Hopeandchangeistan 2012

You are smart. I just send someone to the store.

Scotland Alert: Calvinist booze curfew in effecrt from 10:00 pm till 11:00 am - get more booze option option not available till revolution!

17 BARACK THE VOTE  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:11:42pm

re: #14 Gus

Gotta run an errand. BBL Later Ice and Jimmah!

Oi! Get back here soon!

18 Stanghazi  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:12:54pm

re: #15 wrenchwench

Did you just send Gus to the store?

I'm lucky that way. Or sympathetic!!

Just found out our dinner not till 7. (ribs smoking)

I'd be happy with hamburgers now! Damn.

19 dragonfire1981  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:14:07pm

re: #10 Millicent Islam

Dr. Jimmah says: "He's a wanker, and the quicker she realises it the better it is for her."

Only he said it in Scots, which I can't spell./

I am feeling the same at this point. His wife was giving him a noticeable scowl for awhile there but it didn't seem to trigger a reaction.

20 Stanghazi  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:14:52pm

re: #19 dragonfire1981

I am feeling the same at this point. His wife was giving him a noticeable scowl for awhile there but it didn't seem to trigger a reaction.

Oh, he be blind. Enjoy the soap opera!

21 BARACK THE VOTE  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:15:27pm

re: #18 Residence: Hopeandchangeistan 2012

I'm lucky that way. Or sympathetic!!

Just found out our dinner not till 7. (ribs smoking)

I'd be happy with hamburgers now! Damn.

jimmah and I had hamburgers and haggis for dinner.

22 Ben G. Hazi  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:19:16pm

re: #21 Millicent Islam

jimmah and I had hamburgers and haggis for dinner.

Hopefully, you had the hamburgers and left Jimmah the haggis.

/

23 CuriousLurker  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:21:14pm

Good page, Gus!

24 Stanghazi  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:23:11pm

re: #21 Millicent Islam

jimmah and I had hamburgers and haggis for dinner.

I'd try!

25 Stanghazi  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:24:31pm

Seriously, it's time for pre-food food. bbl

26 wrenchwench  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:26:30pm

re: #23 CuriousLurker

Good page, Gus!

He's at the store.

27 BARACK THE VOTE  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:27:32pm

re: #22 SunshineSuperman

Hopefully, you had the hamburgers and left Jimmah the haggis.

/

I had a bite of the haggis. :)

28 BARACK THE VOTE  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:28:06pm

re: #26 wrenchwench

He's at the store.

I already told Gus he had to drink for me tonight.

29 Bubblehead II  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:46:55pm

re: #18 Residence: Hopeandchangeistan 2012

I'm lucky that way. Or sympathetic!!

Just found out our dinner not till 7. (ribs smoking)

I'd be happy with hamburgers now! Damn.

That's all we are going to do tonight. Cheese Burgers and Ranch & Bacon style Suddenly (Pasta) Salad with added bacon bits. Quick and simple with the added bonus of paper plates and plastic utensils so very few dishes to wash. BTW, when did Charles add the Spy Mode Button?

30 Ayeless in Ghazi  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:48:32pm

re: #15 wrenchwench

Did you just send Gus to the store?

I like your way of thinking :)

31 wrenchwench  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 3:48:46pm

re: #28 Millicent Islam

I already told Gus he had to drink for me tonight.

Hence the stocking up.

32 McSpiff  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 4:06:17pm

Burgers, salads, BBQ chicken, splashing around the pool, board games with friends... Does it get any better?

The joys of being a Canadian with mostly American customers. Happy 4th of July everyone!

33 abolitionist  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 4:20:05pm

re: #29 Bubblehead II

[snip] BTW, when did Charles add the Spy Mode Button?

Between about 10:30am and 1:50pm pst today.

34 Bubblehead II  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 4:32:17pm

re: #33 abolitionist

Between about 10:30am and 1:50pm pst today.

Thanks. I know it wasn't there last night. Charles? Are you fucking with our heads by adding by adding new features and waiting for us to find them?

35 Bubblehead II  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 4:34:35pm

Going to try out this new spy mod.

36 Charles Johnson  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 4:37:21pm

The 'Spy Mode' button just goes to the same page as the little green magnifying glass icon at the bottom right of the article. Thought it might be handy to have another button in a place where more people will see it.

37 Bubblehead II  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 4:38:10pm

Interesting. OK.K Mr. Programming genius :-), put a slider bar on the comment (left hand side) so the reply box stays in the same place.

38 Bubblehead II  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 4:39:36pm

re: #36 Charles Johnson

Never really used that mode before. But I think I could get to use this one with a bit of practice.

39 CuriousLurker  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 4:45:31pm

re: #36 Charles Johnson

Speaking of Spy Mode, why can't we ding when we're in it?

40 Bubblehead II  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 4:47:32pm

re: #39 CuriousLurker

Speaking of Spy Mode, why can't we ding when we're in it?

Notice that. Nor can we edit or report a post. I think Charles has opened a can of worms.

41 Charles Johnson  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 4:48:16pm

re: #39 CuriousLurker

Speaking of Spy Mode, why can't we ding when we're in it?

Because when the comments scroll automatically it's too easy to ding the wrong post, or miss, etc. You can click the comment number to show the comment in its own window and ding from there.

42 Bubblehead II  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 4:52:19pm

re: #41 Charles Johnson

Because when the comments scroll automatically it's too easy to ding the wrong post, or miss, etc. You can click the comment number to show the comment in its own window and ding from there.

Ok, tested. Preview window opens on the right side of the screen under the comment window. This is going to take some getting used to.

43 CuriousLurker  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 4:53:57pm

re: #41 Charles Johnson

Because when the comments scroll automatically it's too easy to ding the wrong post, or miss, etc. You can click the comment number to show the comment in its own window and ding from there.

I figured it was probably something like that, but I thought I'd ask anyway. I guess I'll stick to regular mode as opening the comment in another window kinda defeats the convenience of having everything in one place.

44 CuriousLurker  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 4:54:15pm

re: #40 Bubblehead II

Notice that. Nor can we edit or report a post. I think Charles has opened a can of worms.

You're right. I overlooked that.

45 Ben G. Hazi  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 4:54:17pm

re: #42 Bubblehead II

Ok, tested. Preview window opens on the right side of the screen under the comment window. This is going to take some getting used to.

Hrmmm...

46 Ben G. Hazi  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 4:56:08pm

re: #41 Charles Johnson

Because when the comments scroll automatically it's too easy to ding the wrong post, or miss, etc. You can click the comment number to show the comment in its own window and ding from there.

A little failsafe to avoid hurt feelings and embarassment? It'd be nice to do everything from the Spy, but I see where you're coming from.

47 Bubblehead II  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 4:57:21pm

re: #44 CuriousLurker

You're right. I overlooked that.

Well it looks like if we want to edit or report a post, we have to go back to the original post. Nothing wrong with that.

48 CuriousLurker  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 4:59:42pm

re: #47 Bubblehead II

Well it looks like if we want to edit or report a post, we have to go back to the original post. Nothing wrong with that.

Nope, nothing wrong with it. Everyone has their preferences, so I'm sticking with the regular way.

49 Ben G. Hazi  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 4:59:42pm

re: #47 Bubblehead II

Well it looks like if we want to edit or report a post, we have to go back to the original post. Nothing wrong with that.

Just click the comment number in the Spy and bring the post in question up in a new window/tab, then you get the full-leaded experience.

50 Bubblehead II  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 5:02:04pm

re: #47 Bubblehead II

Well it looks like if we want to edit or report a post, we have to go back to the original post. Nothing wrong with that.

Except it's not working. Just went back to one of my original posts to try an edit. No Go. Same problem. No Pencil

51 Ben G. Hazi  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 5:09:02pm

re: #50 Bubblehead II

Except it's not working. Just went back to one of my original posts to try an edit. No Go. Same problem. No Pencil

Noticed the same thing pulling up single posts in a new window/tab...no edit button.

52 CuriousLurker  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 5:10:09pm

re: #51 SunshineSuperman

Ditto.

53 Charles Johnson  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 5:19:37pm

Testing...

54 Charles Johnson  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 5:25:20pm

Mmkay ... preview now works the same way in Spy Mode, with a popup dialog.

55 BARACK THE VOTE  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 5:37:31pm

Heh-- Jimmah just coined an LGF neologism-- "clusterBuck".

56 researchok  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 5:40:03pm

re: #55 Millicent Islam

I have to party with Jimmah.

Next time I'm in within 1000 miles, I'm making the detour.

57 BARACK THE VOTE  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 5:42:45pm

re: #56 researchok

I have to party with Jimmah.

You're welcome anytime!

58 William Barnett-Lewis  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 5:45:45pm

re: #43 CuriousLurker

I figured it was probably something like that, but I thought I'd ask anyway. I guess I'll stick to regular mode as opening the comment in another window kinda defeats the convenience of having everything in one place.

On fast moving threads, I like having the thread in one tab & Spy in another so I can switch back and forth as desired. But I usually only use it when things are moving a lot faster than they have been lately.

59 researchok  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 5:45:54pm

re: #57 Millicent Islam

I know it will take 12 hours or so to understand a word he's saying...but you can't beat the Scots when it comes to having a really good time.

60 BARACK THE VOTE  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 5:47:48pm

re: #59 researchok

I know it will take 12 hours or so to understand a word he's saying...but you can't beat the Scots when it comes to having a really good time.

A good friend of mine is coming to visit from the US in 2 weeks; I'm wondering how long it will take for him to be able to understand Jimmah.

61 researchok  Wed, Jul 4, 2012 5:52:09pm

re: #60 Millicent Islam

If it's his first trip, 24 hours.

For veterans like me, it's always 12 hours. I'm only half kidding.

My friends and spent plenty of time up there. Great times, great place, great people.

And for the record, haggis does not 'grow on you'.

A good pastie on the other hand...heaven.

62 William of Orange  Thu, Jul 5, 2012 11:17:22am

fuckin. Internet Explorer.....

Posted this coment in the wrong topic because of it.


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