Your fathers were wise men, and if they did not go mad, they became restive under this treatment. Host called senior colleague a C-word in text message obtained by lawyers as part of Dominion lawsuit Tucker Carlson's firing from Fox News came after he used vulgar language to describe a . Hisspeech, given at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, was held at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, New York. Is slavery among them? Its the birth of American Independence, the birth of a nation, and what the speech is saying is you must destroy first what you created and remake it, or it will be destroyed and you with it, says Blight. Hed had a breakdown in the early 1850s, and was having trouble supporting his family. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. The people who came to America were surprised by its history. ', But such is not the state of the case. We feel the pain and anguish ever more severely and it is much harder to find hope for the future. Well, we have all come to understand that while on its face this amendment appeared to outlaw forever slavery and involuntary servitude, its exception for those serving a punishment for crime left open the door for what Douglas Blackmon has called Slavery by Another Name and Ana DuVernays so painfully rendered film, 13th, revealed as continued oppression in the 21st century. From the round top of your ship of state, dark and threatening clouds may be seen. Do you think Douglass would be surprised to learn that Americans are reciting his words nearly 170 years later? There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia which, if committed by a black man (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of the same crimes will subject a white man to the like punishment. At the same time, we need to be studying the history of slavery and racism in this country so we can build policies, practices, and procedures that address the present problems with those historical inequities in mind. That annihilation of space has allowed for real time reporting of events, which in turn has led to considerable change around the world. David Harris: Douglass was known for his oratory and this speech is no exception. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Its relevance endures today. Many historians consider this effort to be Douglass's finest oration, and arguably one of the most powerful American political speeches ever written. It is actually quite longwe use an abridged version for our readingsbut despite its length it is at once riveting and concise. My business, if I have any here today, is with the present. That assembly, which represented property-owning men, took place on July 30, 1619. But, he said, speaking more than a decade before slavery was ended nationally, a lot of work still needed to be done so that all citizens can enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Above your national, tumultuous joy the July 4th celebrations of white Americans were the mournful wails of millions whose heavy chains are, today, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them.. No! 4 Pages. Douglass repeatedly uses the pronouns you and your (rather than our and ours) throughout this section. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic are, distinctly heard on the other. On the Fourth of July, 1852, America celebrated its freedom, as it does every Independence Day. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union. Throughout this speech, as well as his life, Douglass advocated equal justice and rights, as well as citizenship, for blacks. There is blasphemy in the thought. I generally try to avoid speculating about current or historical figures I dont know. What an understanding of the future this shows, although we know it is not all for the better. Although it has also facilitated the spread of hateful ideas and untruths, I suspect Douglass, who understood perhaps better than anyone in the 19th century the power of images, would have reveled in our ability to capture and convey video of events. Fellow citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light. Addressing an audience of about 600 at the newly constructed Corinthian Hall, he started out by acknowledging that the signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave and great men, and that the way they wanted the Republic to look was in the right spirit. Your republican politics are flagrantly inconsistent. It is the birthday of your National Independence, and of your political freedom. There should be no shoulder that does not bear the burden of the government. He had a prophetic vision for the future that he was always trying to work toward. This celebration also marks the beginning of another year of your national life; and reminds you that the Republic of America is now 76 years old. And instead of being the honest men I have before declared them to be, they were the veriest imposters that ever practiced on mankind. They are plain, common-sense rules, such as you and I, and all of us, can understand and apply, without having passed years in the study of law. While I do not intend to argue this question on the present occasion, let me ask, if it be not somewhat singular that, if the Constitution were intended to be, by its framers and adopters, a slave-holding instrument, why neither slavery, slaveholding, nor slave can anywhere be found in it. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. Butin doing so he brings awareness to the hypocrisy of their ideals by the existence of slavery on American soil. Nobody doubts it. Th oppressd shall vilely bend the knee, We would be well advised to ponder Douglasss speech as we frame this conversation. -douglas was trying to to reach to people who didn't agree with slavery, but never did anything to fight against it How does the struggle for freedom change with history? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nations jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? What point in the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? The charter of our liberties, which every citizen has a personal interest in understanding thoroughly. One of his famous speeches, called "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro," was given on July 5, 1852, in Rochester, New York, at an event in the Corinthian Hall. Two years before Douglass' famed speech, the U.S. government passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which required runaway slaves to be returned to their owners. The story of most nations is difficult to catalogue. Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? You may well cherish the memory of such men. Do you think that section has any lessons for us today? They seized upon eternal principles, and set a glorious example in their defense. Magazines, 4,000 African Americans paraded down Broadway in New York City, Or create a free account to access more articles, 'What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July? The arm of the Lord is not shortened, and the doom of slavery is certain. What is their most significant accomplishment? I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. We were all giddy with the reality of a black president who had been willing to talk about race during the campaign. American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, circa 1855. Its also an election year; the 1852 presidential election was heating up that summer. The freedom gained is yours; and you, therefore, may properly celebrate this anniversary. "We need the. Obviously, the speech has taken a much darker meaning in the Age of [President Donald] Trump. You may rejoice, I must mourn.. The new rules are part of a government plan to crack . With them, justice, liberty and humanity were final; not slavery and oppression. Thats a tough one for me. Why does he do this? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. 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. He begins by praising the young nation and its origins in righteous protest against oppression by a tyrannical monarch. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. I have detained my audience entirely too long already. The message wasnt new Douglass promoted those ideas year-round but Blight says he knew the Fourth of July was a good hook, and expected the speech to be a hit. Oh! If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth." This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. What is this but the acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being? 1585 Massachusetts Ave. Douglass printed the speech in his newspaper, Frederick Douglass' Paper, and published 700 copies of it in pamphlet form. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? For who is there so cold, that a nations sympathy could not warm him? 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. Must we allow symbols of racism on public land? His message was well-received because they believed in what he was standing up for. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were "final;" not slavery and oppression. The slaveholders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. speech was delivered on July 5, 1852 as an address to the Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society in Rochester, New York. Then, I dare to affirm, notwithstanding all I have said before, your fathers stooped, basely stooped "To palter with us in a double sense: And keep the word of promise to the ear, But break it to the heart.". For example, acknowledging all of the darker sides of our history makes it easier to understand why and how Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem is actually an expression of the same kind of patriotism Douglass demonstrates in his critique of the United States. The purpose of the event was to celebrate America's signing of the Declaration of Independence, 76 years before. As with rivers so with nations. But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. I have better employments for my time and strength. When from their galling chains set free, What characteristics does he praise about them? Frederick Douglass (18181895) was a former slave who became a nationally recognizedabolitionist orator during the antebellum period. The above audio (11:35) can be used with the following section of Frederick Douglass's speech. That day will come all feuds to end. 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 denunciations 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. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then will I argue with you that the slave is a man! Were the nation older, the patriots heart might be sadder, and the reformers brow heavier. How unlike the politicians of an hour! On top of his federal work, Douglass kept a vigorous speaking tour schedule. He further says, the Constitution, in its words, is plain and intelligible, and is meant for the home-bred, unsophisticated understandings of our fellow-citizens. They were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.. Within twenty years Douglass was the one of the most famous men in the United Statesauthor of two widely read memoirs and an orator who commanded among the highest speaking fees in the nation.