New at Reason: Nick Gillespie on What Frederick Douglass Teaches Us About American Exceptionalism

Frederick Douglass' 1852 fiery speech "What to the slave is the Fourth of July?" remains intensely relevant to contempoary debates over American Exceptionalism, says Nick Gillespie. Where today's conservatives recoil from any criticism of the nation's past and present and liberals indulge in never-ending apology tours, "Douglass was able to place America...in an international context [and] to recognize that embracing freedom and liberty is a process that will continue to unfold and expand (or contract) over time." He continues to offer a compass for a country hurtling through history.

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