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... ated whites and blacks was the freedom that blacks never experienced. To him, what made whites "superior to" blacks was the rights whites and white society chose to give themselves but forbade blacks. Douglass expressed these feelings in his Fourth of July address to the nation in 1852: I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us? The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, and sheered by you, not by me?
This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn? What to the American slave is your 4 th 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 a constant victim. (15) In this speech, Douglass told the nation why there was so much tension between the two races: whites celebrated universal while blacks were still oppressed, partially by federal law. Whites constantly reminding blacks about universal human rights, while still keeping them in bondage, created even more tension between the races. The Civil War and Its Aftermath (1861 - 1867): During the war through the beginning of the Reconstruction period, Douglass was optimistic about the racial progress of the country.
Throughout the War, Douglass argued that the conflict should be a fight against slavery, so he became an aid to President Lincoln. When Lincoln finally emancipated the slaves, Douglass rejoiced. In a speech dedicated to Lincoln, Douglass said, "For the first time in the history of our people, and in the history of the whole American people, we join in this high worship, and march conspicuously in the line of this time-honored custom." (16) This was a great moment in Douglass? s life, but he felt that his work was unfinished. Even before, the slaves were emancipated, Douglass sense his chance to make his dream of the coexistence of the two races come true.
Douglass soon realized, however, that people? s attitude towards black citizens were negative. Douglass, in turn, started to speak about egalitarianism. In one of his editions of The North Star, Douglass wrote: Everything against the person with the hated color is promptly taken for granted; while everything in his favor is received with suspicion and doubt? In this case men are forever doomed to injustice, oppression, hate, and strife; and the religious sentiment of the world, with its grand idea of human brotherhood, its? peace on earth and good-will to all men?
is a golden rule, must be voted a dream, a delusion, and a snare? If I were to talk with all my white fellow-country men? I would say, in the language of the Scriptures? Come and let us reason together? . (17) At the beginning of the War, he directed his attentions to the admittance of blacks into the military.
But soon after, he found that the consequences for black outweighed the advantages, and became discouraged: "Douglass lost enthusiasm for the recruitment effort after several months because black soldiers could not become officers and were not even paid equally with white soldiers. Worse yet, if black soldiers were captured by southern forces they faced the risk of being put to death or sent back into slavery. " (18) Although Douglass would later recommit himself to achieving his dream of racial equality, at this point in his life, Douglass felt helpless. Sensing that people were unwilling to change their racist attitudes and doubting the future of Reconstruction, Douglass began to move away from his dream of racial coexistence. Of continuing racism, Douglass lamented, "Slavery is indeed gone but its shadow still lingers over the country and poisons more or less the moral atmosphere of all sections of the republic." (19) Douglass later denounced the American system and society, disheartened that racism and segregation could not be overcome. This bigotry, he argued, extended deep into the nation? s courts.
As he wrote in the North Star American Review, "if a crime has been committed, and the criminal is not positively known, a suspicious looking colored man is sure to have been seen in the neighborhood? If an unarmed colored man is shot down and dies in his tracks, a jury, under the influence of the spirit[racism] does not hesitate to find the murdered man the real criminal, and the murderer innocent." (20) There was a clear sense of hopelessness then during this phase of Douglass? s life. l integration. Ultimately, however, Douglass sought again to champion blacks? civil rights and racial coexistence.
He began to realize that the fight was not over and that he had to overcome hardships. His idea was to fight for suffrage for blacks. Douglass realized that the next step for African-Americans was to be actually represented in the government. He stated, "Slavery is not abolished until the black man has the ballot." (21) By this he meant that the black man would only be "virtually" represented if he were not a part of the election process. He felt that the only way blacks could get ahead was if they could elect their own representatives who would give them the rights that they deserved. As time went on, Douglass became convinced that the only way America would progress was if the country came together- all races, all classes, all states- and work as one.
He felt that in order for the country to work together, the state governments had to give up much of their power to the federal government. He argued: The Civil Rights Bill and the Freedmen's Bureau Bill and the proposed constitutional amendments, with the amendment already adopted and recognized as the law of the land, do not reach the difficulty, and cannot, unless the whole structure of the government is changed from a government by States to something like a despotic central government, with power to control even the municipal regulations of States, and to make them conform to its own despotic will. (22) Because the states had their own constitutions and statues, all states did not have the same laws pertaining to black citizens. Douglass argued for consistency in the government because some of the states did not abide by the laws of Congress passed, nor did they always even acknowledge them. Douglass did not think that this was fair to the black citizens of America, and he fought against such inconsistencies in the government.
He revealed this on a more social level in his Address at the Annual Meeting of the American Missionary Association. At that meeting he remarked: It [the "Negro problem"] is, however, not a white man? s problem or a black man? s problem, but a great national problem which involves the honor or dishonor, the glory or the shame, of the whole American people, and within their power to solve in one way or the other... (23) In this speech, Douglass proposed to the world that all Americans work together to overcome all their hardships. He tried to resolve the problem by asking that the two races try to coexist under the same government and try to work out the problems with each other.
He told the people that the power was within their hands and it was up to them to use it. Because Douglass was determined to prove that blacks and whites could work together, he re-committed himself to fight for racial integration. Douglass did many things after Reconstruction, which proved his true commitment to racial integration. His marriage to Helen Pitts, a white woman, in 1886, proved his sincerity in his resolution. Although many opposed to this marriage, he decided that it could be an example that the two races can co-exist equally and be happy.
Douglass? s argument after the war was that because American society had succumbed to prejudices, the country would not prosper fully until everyone was treated with equal opportunity. By the end of Douglass? s life in 1895, his ideas on racial integration had evolved from radical to optimistic to pessimistic to resolute. These changes occurred because of the experiences that Frederick Douglass lived though and the failures that he witnessed. Douglass never, though, abandoned the movement of rights for his people.
He stated about his association with anti-slavery groups, "When it [slavery] was abolished this Association [American Missionary Association] did not disband or discontinue its work, but went forward as earnestly as ever to advance, enlighten and elevate the colored people of the South." (24) When slavery was abolished, Douglass knew that his purpose was not yet served. He knew that he, of all people, could not give up on the black race, and because of that he overcame the hardships, and spent the rest of his life fighting for the equal rights of black citizens. Bibliography: Bibliography Secondary Sources Africans in America. "Frederick Douglass." [ web This is a series of many aspects of Douglass? s life with many direct quotations by Douglass. Graham, Shirley. There was Once a Slave? .
New York: Julian Messner, Inc. , 1947. This is a biography of Frederick Douglass, focusing especially on his significance as an abolitionist. Mc Feely, William S. Frederick Douglass. London: W.
W. Norton & Co. , 1991. This Pulitzer Prize-winning historian focuses on the many personalities of Frederick Douglass, whom he terms " a courageous fighter? a brilliant evocative writer and speaker, a wickedly gifted satirist, and a handsome and charismatic leader. " Quarles, Benjamin.
Frederick Douglass. New York: Atheneum, 1974. This is a biography of Frederick Douglass focusing on how his life affected his message. Russell, Sharman Apt.
Frederick Douglass. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers. 1988. This is part of a series on African-American men and women written by the Black Americans of Achievement and edited by Abolitionist Sharman Apt Russell. This biography is for young adults. It includes photographs, art, and documents. This biography also includes an inspirational essay, "On Achievement", by Coretta Scott King.
Smithsonian. " Historians commemorate political reformer Frederick Douglass." [ web This is a very brief biography of the life of Frederick Douglass. Thomas, Sandra. "Frederick Douglass." [ web This is the main menu for different parts of Thomas? s biography of Douglass... "Life After the 13 th Amendment." [ web This part of Thomas? s analysis is about the life of Douglass after slavery ended, telling of his new mission of racial integration. Primary Sources Douglass, Frederick. "An American Slave" This document is a primary source written by Frederick Douglass himself. Douglass, Frederick. "An Appeal to Congress for Impartial Suffrage" [http.
web This document is a primary source written by Frederick Douglass himself. As the title says, this is an appeal to Congress for impartial suffrage. What is especially important about this document is the message he conveys.
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