Saturday, July 4, 2020
Frederick Douglass’s oration on the 4th of July (abridged)
- by New Deal democrat
The middle portion of Douglass’s famous speech, delivered in 1852 to white abolitionists in Rochester, NY, where Douglass lived at the time, and is buried — “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” — is best known.
But in the first portion he allowed for celebration of the principles enunciated by the Founders in the Declaration of Independence: “your fathers, the fathers of this republic, did, most deliberately, under the inspiration of a glorious patriotism, and with a sublime faith in the great principles of justice and freedom, lay deep the corner-stone of the national superstructure.”
And in the Concluding portion, he “dr[e]w[ ] encouragement from the Declaration of Independence, the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions” for the future.
In our own moment of critical trial and literal iconoclasm, Douglass’s ability to see the Founding Fathers as 3 dimensional, lauding their accomplishments as well as damning their collusion in evil, and for girding one’s loins to the crisis of the present, with abiding hope for the universality of decency and justice in the future, is particularly inspiring.