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Many elites in the media this week have cited abolitionist Frederick Douglass’s famous 1852 speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” as evidence of the former slave’s condemnation of America, and another excuse for them to express derision about the United States on its birthday. If they read the whole speech, however, they’d see it is in fact a testament of support for our nation’s founding principles and gives even more reason to celebrate the Fourth of July and American patriotism.
The historic speech was given on July 5, 1852, in Corinthian Hall to a white audience of the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery society less than a decade before the Civil War began. The speech has been upheld by many as a prime example of speaking truth to power. In it, Douglass chastises the founding fathers for not resolving the question of slavery when they created the nation.
Fellow-citizens - Joy - Wail - Millions - Chains
Fellow-citizens; above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, ‘May my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!’ To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then fellow-citizens, is AMERICAN SLAVERY. I shall see, this day, and its popular characteristics, from the slave’s point of view. Standing, there, identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation...
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