frederick douglass civil war speech

He also had a good sense of humor that can be seen in his speeches and quotes. A most interesting and gratifying confirmation of this theory of its mission is furnished in the varying fortunes of the struggle itself. I know that times have changed very rapidly, and that we have changed them. But let that pass. A peculiar education was necessary to this bold wickedness. Just in proportion to the progress made in taking upon itself the character I have ascribed to it has the war prospered and the rebellion lost ground. When our government and people shall bravely avow this to be an Abolition war, then the country will be safe. The hour is one of hope as well as danger. It has placed the broad arrow of British suspicion on the prows of the rebel rams in the Mersey and performed a like service in France. While the North is full of such papers as the New York World, Express and Herald, firing the nation’s heart with hatred to Negroes and Abolitionists, we are in danger of a slaveholding peace. It is true that the war seems long. I answer, because the nation has long bitterly hated Abolition and the enemies of the war confidently rely upon this hatred to serve the ends of treason. Mr. Calhoun, and not Mr. Seward, is the original author of the doctrine of the irrepressible conflict. … though freedom of speech and of the ballot have for the present fallen before the shot-guns of the South, and, the party of slavery is now in the ascendant, we need bate no jot of heart or hope. They charge that it is not waged to establish the Union as it was. The collecting of revenue in the rebel ports, the repossession of a few forts and arsenals and other public property stolen by the rebels, have almost disappeared from the recollection of the people. We now want a country in which the obligations of patriotism shall not conflict with fidelity to justice and liberty. The most hopeful fact of the hour is that we are now in a salutary school—the school of affliction. Author, abolitionist, political activist, and philosopher, Frederick Douglass was a pivotal figure in the decades of struggle leading up to the Civil War and the Reconstruction era. It is the ready organized nucleus of a powerful proslavery and pro-rebel reaction. Recognized as one of the first great African-American speakers in the United States, Douglass was an advisor to President Lincoln during the Civil War… Whatever may be a man’s abilities, virtue or service, the fact that he is an Abolitionist makes him an object of popular hate. Good, wise, and generous men at the North, is power and out of power, for whose good intentions and patriotism we must all have the highest respect, doubt the wisdom of observing this memorial day, and would have us forget and forgive, strew flowers alike and lovingly, on rebel and on loyal graves. Frederick Douglass and other Black leaders engaged with Confederate sympathizers in a battle of historical memory. The war has been a growing war in every sense of the word. In his speech, Douglass did express concernt that Southern plantation owners might try to import Chinese workers to displace blacks. While the Democratic party is in existence as an organization, we are in danger of a slaveholding peace, and of Rebel rule. The statesmen of the South understood this matter earlier and better than the statesmen of the North. One wave brings its treasure from the briny deep, but another often sweeps it back to its primal depths. Secondly: The vast expense of the war and the heavy taxes in money as well as men which the war requires for its prosecution. We know and consider that a nation is not born in a day. In this speech, Douglass calls on Americans to remember the war for what it was—a struggle between an army fighting to protect slavery and a nation reluctantly transformed into a … Its members would receive the benediction due to peacemakers. They first endeavored to make the federal government stand upon their accursed cornerstone; and we but barely escaped, as well you know, that calamity. The war looms before me simply as a great national opportunity, which may be improved to national salvation, or neglected to national ruin. Her noblest defenders were sent into exile, and the hopes of democratic liberty were blasted in the moment of their bloom. The Army of the Potomac took up an anti-Negro position from the first and has not entirely renounced it yet. Ask why it denied the right of a state to protect itself against possible abuses of the fugitive Slave Bill, and you have the same old answer. The same idea has occurred to Jefferson Davis. Then came propositions for Border State, gradual, compensated, colonized emancipation. He was a man of great ambition, courage, and intellect. Thirdly: That we regard the whole colored population of the country, in the loyal as well as in the disloyal states, as our countrymen—valuable in peace as laborers, valuable in war as soldiers—entitled to all the rights, protection, and opportunities for achieving distinction enjoyed by any other class of our countrymen. From no sources less foul and wicked could such a rebellion come. We had come to detest the principle by which slavery had a strong representation in Congress. We have need to prepare for that trial. First published on December 3, 1847, using funds Douglass earned during a speaking tour in Great Britain and Ireland, The North Star soon developed into one of the most influential African American antislavery publications of the pre-Civil War era. The speech, reported in the New York Tribune, appears below. President Lincoln introduced his administration to the country as one which would faithfully catch, hold and return runaway slaves to their masters. Twenty years ago we hoped that Texas could not be annexed; but if that could not be prevented we hoped that she would come in a free state. It has planted agony at a million hearthstones, thronged our streets with the weeds of mourning, filled our land with mere stumps of men, ridged our soil with two hundred thousand rudely formed graves and mantled it all over with the shadow of death. I will not stop here to blame and denounce the past; but I will say that the most of the blunders and disasters of the earlier part of the war might have been avoided had our armies and generals not repelled the only true friends the Union cause had in the rebel states. Now, we of the North have seen many strange things and may see many more; but that old Union, whose canonized bones we saw hearse in death and inurned under the frowning battlements of Sumter, we shall never see again while the world standeth. We tender you on this memorial day the homage of the loyal nation, and the heartfelt gratitude of emancipated millions. On January 13, 1864, Frederick Douglass was invited to deliver a speech before the Woman’s Loyal League at the Cooper Institute in New York City. Though the portents are that we shall flourish, it is too much to say that we cannot fail and fall. I have applauded that paper and do now applaud it, as a wide measure—while I detest the motive and principle upon which it is based. Why do the loyal people deny the charge? Nothing is better calculated to effect the desired change than the slow, steady and certain progress of the war. Can anybody want the answer? He would save the Union with slavery or without slavery. It has failed. I was not sent and am not come to console this breach of our political church. It has now assumed a saintly character. This sentiment is noble and generous, worthy of all honor as such; but it is only a sentiment after all, and must submit to its own rational limitations. Both sections have tried union. 1864 -- Meets with Lincoln again. But this very slow progress is an essential element of its effectiveness. Frederick Douglass, “Speech delivered in Madison Square, New York, Decoration Day.” 1877. Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Available through the Library of Congress, Abolitionist Sheet Music Cover Page, 1844, Barack Obama, Howard University Commencement Address (2016), Blueprint and Photograph of Christ Church, Constitutional Ratification Cartoon, 1789, Drawing of Uniforms of the American Revolution, Effects of the Fugitive Slave Law Lithograph, 1850, Genius of the Ladies Magazine Illustration, 1792, Missionary Society Membership Certificate, 1848, Painting of Enslaved Persons for Sale, 1861, The Fruit of Alcohol and Temperance Lithographs, 1849, The Society for United States Intellectual History Primary Source Reader, Bartolomé de Las Casas Describes the Exploitation of Indigenous Peoples, 1542, Thomas Morton Reflects on Indians in New England, 1637, Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca Travels through North America, 1542, Richard Hakluyt Makes the Case for English Colonization, 1584, John Winthrop Dreams of a City on a Hill, 1630, John Lawson Encounters Native Americans, 1709, A Gaspesian Man Defends His Way of Life, 1641, Manuel Trujillo Accuses Asencio Povia and Antonio Yuba of Sodomy, 1731, Olaudah Equiano Describes the Middle Passage, 1789, Francis Daniel Pastorius Describes his Ocean Voyage, 1684, Rose Davis is sentenced to a life of slavery, 1715, Boston trader Sarah Knight on her travels in Connecticut, 1704, Jonathan Edwards Revives Enfield, Connecticut, 1741, Samson Occom describes his conversion and ministry, 1768, Extracts from Gibson Clough’s War Journal, 1759, Alibamo Mingo, Choctaw leader, Reflects on the British and French, 1765, George R. 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Hewes, A Retrospect of the Boston Tea-party, 1834, Thomas Paine Calls for American independence, 1776, Women in South Carolina Experience Occupation, 1780, Boston King recalls fighting for the British and for his freedom, 1798, Abigail and John Adams Converse on Women’s Rights, 1776, Hector St. Jean de Crèvecœur Describes the American people, 1782, A Confederation of Native peoples seek peace with the United States, 1786, Mary Smith Cranch comments on politics, 1786-87, James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, 1785, George Washington, “Farewell Address,” 1796, Venture Smith, A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, 1798, Letter of Cato and Petition by “the negroes who obtained freedom by the late act,” in Postscript to the Freeman’s Journal, September 21, 1781, Black scientist Benjamin Banneker demonstrates Black intelligence to Thomas Jefferson, 1791, Creek headman Alexander McGillivray (Hoboi-Hili-Miko) seeks to build an alliance with Spain, 1785, Tecumseh Calls for Native American Resistance, 1810, Abigail Bailey Escapes an Abusive Relationship, 1815, James Madison Asks Congress to Support Internal Improvements, 1815, A Traveler Describes Life Along the Erie Canal, 1829, Maria Stewart bemoans the consequences of racism, 1832, Rebecca Burlend recalls her emigration from England to Illinois, 1848, Harriet H. Robinson Remembers a Mill Workers’ Strike, 1836, Alexis de Tocqueville, “How Americans Understand the Equality of the Sexes,” 1840, Missouri Controversy Documents, 1819-1920, Rhode Islanders Protest Property Restrictions on Voting, 1834, Black Philadelphians Defend their Voting Rights, 1838, Andrew Jackson’s Veto Message Against Re-chartering the Bank of the United States, 1832, Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” 1852, Samuel Morse Fears a Catholic Conspiracy, 1835, Revivalist Charles G. Finney Emphasizes Human Choice in Salvation, 1836, Dorothea Dix defends the mentally ill, 1843, David Walker’s Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World, 1829, William Lloyd Garrison Introduces The Liberator, 1831, Angelina Grimké, Appeal to Christian Women of the South, 1836, Sarah Grimké Calls for Women’s Rights, 1838, Henry David Thoreau Reflects on Nature, 1854, Nat Turner explains the Southampton rebellion, 1831, Solomon Northup Describes a Slave Market, 1841, George Fitzhugh Argues that Slavery is Better than Liberty and Equality, 1854, Sermon on the Duties of a Christian Woman, 1851, Mary Polk Branch remembers plantation life, 1912, William Wells Brown, “Clotel; or, The President’s Daughter: A Narrative of Slave Life in the United States,” 1853, Cherokee Petition Protesting Removal, 1836, John O’Sullivan Declares America’s Manifest Destiny, 1845, Diary of a Woman Migrating to Oregon, 1853, Chinese Merchant Complains of Racist Abuse, 1860, Wyandotte woman describes tensions over slavery, 1849, Letters from Venezuelan General Francisco de Miranda regarding Latin American Revolution, 1805-1806, President Monroe Outlines the Monroe Doctrine, 1823, Stories from the Underground Railroad, 1855-56, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1852, Charlotte Forten complains of racism in the North, 1855, Margaraetta Mason and Lydia Maria Child Discuss John Brown, 1860, South Carolina Declaration of Secession, 1860, Alexander Stephens on Slavery and the Confederate Constitution, 1861, General Benjamin F. Butler Reacts to Self-Emancipating People, 1861, William Henry Singleton, a formerly enslaved man, recalls fighting for the Union, 1922, Ambrose Bierce Recalls his Experience at the Battle of Shiloh, 1881, Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, 1865, Freedmen discuss post-emancipation life with General Sherman, 1865, Jourdon Anderson Writes His Former Enslaver, 1865, Charlotte Forten Teaches Freed Children in South Carolina, 1864, General Reynolds Describes Lawlessness in Texas, 1868, A case of sexual violence during Reconstruction, 1866, Frederick Douglass on Remembering the Civil War, 1877, William Graham Sumner on Social Darwinism (ca.1880s), Henry George, Progress and Poverty, Selections (1879), Andrew Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth (June 1889), Grover Cleveland’s Veto of the Texas Seed Bill (February 16, 1887), The “Omaha Platform” of the People’s Party (1892), Dispatch from a Mississippi Colored Farmers’ Alliance (1889), Lucy Parsons on Women and Revolutionary Socialism (1905), Chief Joseph on Indian Affairs (1877, 1879), William T. Hornady on the Extermination of the American Bison (1889), Chester A. Arthur on American Indian Policy (1881), Frederick Jackson Turner, “Significance of the Frontier in American History” (1893), Turning Hawk and American Horse on the Wounded Knee Massacre (1890/1891), Helen Hunt Jackson on a Century of Dishonor (1881), Laura C. Kellogg on Indian Education (1913), Andrew Carnegie on “The Triumph of America” (1885), Ida B. Wells-Barnett, “Lynch Law in America” (1900), Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (1918), Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper” (1913), Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives (1890), Rose Cohen on the World Beyond her Immigrant Neighborhood (ca.1897/1918), William McKinley on American Expansionism (1903), Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden” (1899), James D. Phelan, “Why the Chinese Should Be Excluded” (1901), William James on “The Philippine Question” (1903), Chinese Immigrants Confront Anti-Chinese Prejudice (1885, 1903), African Americans Debate Enlistment (1898), Booker T. Washington & W.E.B. It is true we have the Proclamation of January 1863. About 180,000 African Americans serve in the Civil War on the Union side. They are hopeful to the last. They charge that his is a war for the subjugation of the South. In his letter to Mr. Greeley the President told the country virtually that the abolition or non-abolition of slavery was a matter of indifference to him. It was a vast and glorious step in the right direction. We had been drugged nearly to death by proslavery compromises. We know that large bodies move slowly—and often seem to move thus when, could we perceive their actual velocity, we should be astonished at its greatness. Slavery is humbled in Maryland, threatened in Tennessee, stunned nearly to death in western Kentucky, and gradually melting away before our arms in the rebellious states. Few men, however great their wisdom, are permitted to see the end from the beginning. We want a country, and are fighting for a country, through the length and breadth of which the literature and learning of any section of it may float to its extremities unimpaired, and thus become the common property of all the people—a country in which no man shall be fined for reading a book, or imprisoned for selling a book—a country where no man may be imprisoned or flogged or sold for learning to read, or teaching a fellow mortal how to read. Fourthly: Believing that the white race has nothing to fear from fair competition with the black race, and that the freedom and elevation of one race are not to be purchased or in any manner rightfully subserved by the disfranchisement of another, we shall favor immediate and unconditional emancipation in all the states, invest the black man everywhere with the right to vote and to be voted for, and remove all discriminations against his rights on account of his color, whether as a citizen or as a soldier. In his last Message he shows the same moral indifference, by saying as he does say that he had hoped that the rebellion could be put down without the abolition of slavery. But I am one of those who think this rebellion—inaugurated and carried on for a cause so unspeakably guilty and distinguished by barbarities which would extort a cry of shame from the painted savage—is quite enough for the whole lifetime of any one nation, though the lifetime should cover the space of a thousand years. But, fellow-citizens, I have far less solicitude about the position and the influence of this party than I have about that of the great loyal party of the country. If the observance of this memorial days has any apology, office, or significance, it is derived from the moral character of this war, from the far-reaching, unchangeable and eternal principles in dispute, and for which our sons and brothers encountered hardship, danger, and death…. It began weak and has risen strong. I know that his view of the case is not very consoling to the peace Democracy. Now did a warm heart and a high moral feeling control the utterance of the President, he would welcome, with joy unspeakable and full of glory, the opportunity afforded by the rebellion to free the country form the matchless crime and infamy. Looking from a distance, the friends of democratic liberty saw in the convulsion the death of kingcraft in Europe and throughout the world. We naturally prefer the bright side, but when there is a dark side it is folly to shut our eyes to it or deny its existence. I know that many are appalled and disappointed by the apparently interminable character this war. The South united and the North divided, we shall be hereafter as heretofore, firmly held under the heels of Slavery. The colored people told me a few days ago in Washington that they were the victims of the most brutal treatment by these Northern soldiers when they first came there. Now, this is just the sort of people whose votes may turn the scale against us in the last event. Do you find this information helpful? It is this new complexion of our cause which warms our hearts and strengthens our hands at home, disarms our enemies and increases our friends abroad. Not because we love the Negro, but the nation; not because we prefer to do this, because we must or give up the contest and give up the country. The South is logical and consistent. Haiti and Liberia are recognized. It began with few and now, behold, the country is full of armed men, ready, with courage and fortitude, to make the wisest and best idea of American statesmanship the law of the land. These new apostles of peace call themselves Peace Democrats, and boast that they belong to the only party which can restore the country to peace. Our generals, at the beginning of the war, were horribly proslavery. Looking at the matter from no higher ground than patriotism—the American considerations of justice, liberty, progress and civilization—the American people should resolve that this shall be the last slaveholding rebellion that shall ever curse this continent. Their two great all-commanding ideas are, first, that slavery is right, and second, that the slaveholders are a superior order or class. It has been given a thousand times from this and other platforms. While the major part of antislavery profession is based upon devotion to the Union rather than hostility to slavery, there is danger of a slaveholding peace. Like the slow convalescence of some patients the fault is less chargeable to the medicine than to the deep-seated character of the disease. There are vast numbers of voters, who make no account of the moral growth of a great nation and who only look at the war as a calamity to be endured only so long as they have no power to arrest it. We are in fact, and from absolute necessity, transplanting the whole South with the higher civilization of the North. On the other hand, exclude Abolition, and you exclude all else for which you are fighting. Loyalty has a strong back, but taxation has often broken it. I hope much from the bravery of our soldiers, but in vain is the might of armies if our rulers fail to profit by experience and refuse to listen to the suggestions of wisdom and justice. Slavery has proved itself the strong man of our national house. It has driven Mason, the shameless man hunter, from London, where he never should have been allowed to stay for an hour, except as a bloodhound is tolerated in Regent Park for exhibition. Identify these elements. We owe a debt of respect and gratitude to William Edward Forster, John Bright, Richard Cobden, and other British Statesmen, in that they outran us in comprehending the high character of our struggle. 1878: In 1878, Frederick Douglass purchases a 15-acre estate, called Cedar Hill, in Anacostia, D.C. We could, like the ancients, discern the face of the sky, but not the signs of the times. Events are mightier than our rulers, and these divine forces, with overpowering logic, have fixed upon this war, against the wishes of our government, the comprehensive character and mission I have ascribed to it. We want a country whose fundamental institutions we can proudly defend before the highest intelligence and civilization of the age. In every rebel state it proved itself stronger than the Union, stronger than the Constitution, and stronger than the Republican institutions can become possible. Ask why it was for the Florida War, and it answers, slavery. But, as I have before intimated, the facts do still fall short of our hopes. Fourthly: And superior to all others, is the national prejudice and hatred toward all colored people of the country, a feeling which has done more to encourage the hopes of the rebels than all other powers beside. Slavery, and only slavery, has been its recognized master during all that time. Douglass was one of the greatest public speakers of … Tell me not of amnesties and oaths of allegiance. We can put an end to this disloyal party by putting an end to Slavery. Our chief danger lies in the absence of all moral feeling in the utterances of our rulers. I end where I began—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 at the North; America his permanent home, and all Americans his fellow countrymen. All donations are tax deductible. They have but to cross the rebel lines to be hailed by the traitors as countrymen, clansmen, kinsmen, and brothers beloved in a common conspiracy. It is a war for the Union, a war for the Constitution, I admit; but it is logically such a war only in the sense that the greater includes the lesser. But today, after nearly three years of a slaveholding rebellion, Douglas wanted popular sovereignty; Mr. Lincoln wants the Union. We did our very best to prevent it. It was not Richmond, but Washington. The New England schoolhouse is bound to take the place of the Southern whipping post. Upon these five strings the Democrats still have hopes of playing themselves into power, and not without reason. You and I know that the mission of this war is national regeneration. NEW YORK >> More than a century after his death, Frederick Douglass and July 4 remain profoundly intertwined. Ask why it was for the annexation of Texas, and it answers, slavery. When the late Stephen A. Douglas uttered the sentiment that he did not care whether slavery were voted up or voted down in the territories, we thought him lost to all genuine feeling on the subject, and no man more than Mr. Lincoln denounced that sentiment as unworthy of the lips of any American statesman. The best that can be said of the peacemaking ability of this class of men is their bitterest condemnation. The abolition of slavery is the comprehensive and logical object of the war, for it includes everything else which the struggle involves. Slavery being right , all that is inconsistent with its entire security is necessarily wrong, and of course ought to be put down. We had come to be ashamed of slave hunting, and being made the watchdogs of slaveholders, who were too proud to scent out and hunt down their slaves for themselves. Thirdly: The earnest desire for peace which is shared by all classes except government contractors who are making money out of the war; a feeling which may be kindled to a flame by any serious reverses to our arms. Douglass was one of the greatest public speakers of the Civil War era, a conscience of the abolitionist movement and beyond and a popular choice for summing up American ideals, failings and challenges. The charge in a comprehensive sense is most true, and it is a pity that it is true, but it would be a vast pity if it were not true. Hence we have been floundering in the depths of dead issues. It would take more than speeches to make this change. The lesson for the statesmen at his hour is to discover and apply some principle of government which shall produce unity of sentiment, unity of idea, unity of object. , transplanting the whole South with the rebels when antislavery work was more needed than.! 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