Frederick Douglass on Liberty, Slavery, and the Fourth of July

"Interpreted as it ought to be interpreted, the Constitution is a glorious liberty document."


On July 5, 1852, the abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass delivered one of the greatest speeches of his long and storied career. Titled "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?," Douglass' speech contained both a searing denunciation of American slavery and a rousing defense of the libertarian principles coursing through the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. "Interpreted as it ought to be interpreted," Douglass thundered from the stage, "the Constitution is a glorious liberty document."

In my view, there's no such thing as a bad day to reflect on the wisdom of Frederick Douglass—but July Fourth is perhaps a better day for it than most. So as a way of both honoring Douglass and marking the anniversary of his remarkable July Fourth speech, here are two stories from the Reason archives which examine the life and legacy of this indispensable American hero.

Frederick Douglass, Classical Liberal

It's true that Frederick Douglass simultaneously championed both civil rights and economic liberty. But the proper term for that combination isn't Social Darwinism; it's classical liberalism. The central component of Douglass' worldview was the principle of self-ownership, which he understood to include both racial equality and the right to enjoy the fruits of one's labor.

Consider the remarkable 1848 letter Doug­lass wrote to his old master, the slaveholder Thomas Auld. It rings out repeatedly with the tenets of classical liberalism. "You are a man and so am I," Douglass declared. "In leaving you, I took nothing but what belonged to me, and in no way lessened your means for obtaining an honest living." Escaping from slavery wasn't just an act of self-preservation, Douglass maintained; it was an affirmation of his unalienable natural rights. "Your faculties remained yours," he wrote, "and mine became useful to their rightful owner."

Douglass struck a similar note in his powerful 1852 speech "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" Evoking John Locke's famous description of private property emerging from man mixing his labor with the natural world, Douglass pointed to slaves "plowing, planting and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses" as proof that they too deserved the full range of natural rights. "Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? That he is the rightful owner of his own body?" Douglass asked his mostly white audience. "There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven, that does not know that slavery is wrong for him."

What Frederick Douglass Teaches Us About American Exceptionalism and the Growth of Freedom

Douglass' genius was not in hailing or excoriating American in hyperbolic terms. Plenty of people before and after him have done that. To simply assert that the United States is the either most perfect or most depraved nation is a form of exceptionalism, to be sure. But it is also an indulgent gesture that presumes that we can't redeem ourselves or ever be held in error.

I think what resonates to this day is that Douglass was able to place America not simply in an international context but also to recognize that embracing freedom and liberty is a process that will continue to unfold and expand (or contract) over time.

The United States has much to be ashamed of as a nation and much to celebrate. But as we hurtle through history, what we need more than anything is a compass by which to chart future actions. Douglass' life and writings help provide that in a way few other examples can.

NEXT: Hackers Installed Sophisticated Malware on U.S. Computers. Why Doesn't Anyone Care?

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  1. Libertarians only pretend to honor Frederick Douglass in order to hide their support for systematic slavery!


    1. Even worse, we’ve appropriated Douglass from his rightful cultural mast–er, heirs. At this point he’s no better than that clown in blackface, Clarence Thomas.

      1. Yeah, they must also better know what he meant in his speech (possibly better than Douglass himself), because pbs, democracynow, and other lighthouses of progressivism have massively edited versions of it.

        Maybe they just made it easier to read and understand without all that pesky patriotism and Constitution stuff?

  2. Happy Fourth of July, everybody.

    Let’s get together with friends and family to celebrate, barbeque, get wasted, watch shit blow up, and yell, “Fuck Assistant U.S. Attorney Niketh Velamoor and fuck Judge Katherine Forrest, too! …like good and loyal, patriotic Americans should.

    You know who else got in trouble for saying, “Give me liberty, or we’re breakin’ out the wood chipper”?


    P.S. Fuck John Roberts, and fuck Barack Obama, too! Let’s hope there’s a special hot place in hell for shitty Supreme Court justices and rotten presidents, too.

    1. Happy Independence Day

      Nothing more American than getting drunk, charring meat and blowing shit up.

      Off to sharpen the blades in my wood chipper, funny how much wear and tear dead political parasites cause…

    2. Let’s include the motherfuckers who made the laws that require me to drive across state lines so I can buy some decent fireworks.

      Happy Independence Day, everybody!

      1. It was for your own protection, though.

        1. Last night the neighborhood riff raff was blowing up (illegal) firecrackers and hooting and hollering.

          My wife was mad because firecrackers are not legal in our state. She was venting about the riff raff not obeying the law.

          I was drunk and mocking her for her statist views. Then we heard … BANG… WAAAAHHH!!!

          I don’t think the neighborhood kid was hurt too bad because he stopped crying after about 15 minutes. I thought I was going to have to call an ambulance though because I was laughing so hard.

          Reminded me of blowing up every model airplane and ship I had built since the previous 4th.

          1. Thus is the cycle of teenagerdom renewed.

            That, or he just bled out.

      2. You want some convoluted fireworks laws? Where I live is the only county within a hundred miles any direction where you can buy legal big-boy fireworks. There are about half a dozen year-round brick-and-mortar fireworks shops – that’s all they do. I’m told they make enough in the 2 weeks leading up to the 4th to keep the stores open the entire rest of the year even if they never see another customer. The only catch? Residents of the county are not permitted to purchase, and it is illegal to use fireworks anywhere in the county. All fireworks sold must, as far as the law goes, be transferred out of the county within 24 hours. We have two highways leading in and out of town – one to California, one to Las Vegas. In the lead up to the 4th, Vegas cops set up emphasis patrols to fuck people coming into the city with fireworks. California has been unsuccessfully lobbying for years to change the laws here to prevent people smuggling them back across state lines (I’m told more than a few people rent U-Haul trailers or box trucks to haul huge displays back into CA). But nevertheless, there it is, a nice little niche for a half dozen local businesses.

        1. As far as fireworks go, you can celebrate the Fourth of July free as a bird in Mexico.

          1. Eh, these days I can barely be arsed to go out in my backyard and watch the public display they put on at the local park.

          2. I was pleasantly surprised when my wife sent me a text while I was at work stating that she wanted us to drive into SC to get some big boy fireworks before they’re outlawed all together. Normally she isn’t as liberty minded as I am, but we both felt that our son had to blow some shit up at least once during his childhood.

            The $100 or so, that I spent is well worth not fighting crowds and retarded traffic for some community display.

        2. Primm?

        3. Kind of a brilliant way to bleed money from surrounding fiefs, though.

        4. I live 20 minutes from this. It’s crazy.


      3. Let’s include the motherfuckers who made the laws that require me to drive across state lines so I can buy some decent fireworks.

        I hear the revolutionaries from NJ had to cross into PA for gunpowder for their muskets.

        1. Well, I am not sure if this is generally relevant to what is being discussed here, having been imbibing in celebration here, of the 4th, and ALL of our many-many freedoms that have NOT yet been taken away by Guv Almighty… But… I have been watching the “History-Schmistory Channel”… And so…

          Did YOU know that I have heard it said, that Washington and his men would NEVER-EVER have been able to cross the Delaware river, to slay the Brits and their Hun mercenaries, had it NOT been for the assistance of the space aliens?!!?!?! … Well, NOW you know!!!

    3. Go for it, Dude-Man Sir!!!

      Just keep your woodchipper away from my woodie, is all I am asking…

    4. Well said, Ken.

      In keeping with the culture of inclusivity which they seem to value so highly, let us not forget in our celebratory “Fuck You!”s and ill-wishes all the legislators, current and former, who proposed, wrote, and passed laws constricting our freedoms; as well as all the Nazgul who rubber-stamped those laws; along with all executive branch personnel, from Presidents to US Attorneys to lowly beat cops, who enforce them. May they all suffer self-inflicted fatal wounds from improperly handling illegal fireworks this Independence Day.

      1. You probably win the wood chipper reference for the decade.

    5. Happy Independence Day to my American friends.

      And yes.

      Fuck the cunts and preserve your woodchippers well!

      1. The tree of Liberty must be regularly watered with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

  3. If Douglass was alive today the Progressives would call him an Uncle Tom. Leaving the progressive plantation is the worst sin.

    1. Yes they would. This is not the least reason I hate the evil fuckers.

    2. Didn’t he basically get called that in his lifetime? Towards the end of his life…l

    3. If Douglass were alive today he might notice that the progressive design is to reduce us all to one vast plantation.

  4. Happy Fourth, friends of liberty!

  5. Happy 4th Bitches.

    1. Obligatory


          1. We do this whenever there’s a sale on strawberries at Wal-Mart. Except, we do it in the parking lot. And we have Confederate Battle Flags.

        1. +1 “Daddy would have gotten us Uzis.”

  6. Happy 4th!

  7. Enjoy this dose of retardation on the 4th:


    Trigger Warning: it’s really, really , REALLY retarded.

    1. I posted this yesterday under the heading “Vox goes full-retard.” Great minds think alike.

      We were both late; Reason posted this shitty article a few days before on the P.M. links.

      Happy Independence Day, liberty-lovers! the Revolution was no mistake!

      1. The guy who wrote that article is a standardized product of our education system as it’s operated the last forty years. The country sucks because of slavery and mistreating aborigines so we have to make the the government more powerful and we’re killing the environment so give the government even more power.

    2. Progressives showcase their historical ignorance a bit more. I was surprised they acknowledged the point that owning America would have made Britain’s decision to abolish slavery more difficult.

      Of course, they don’t recognize the significance of the American Revolution internationally at all. I mean, you would never guess that what happened in the colonies inspired change in Europe and influenced democratic movements worldwide through the 20th century.

      1. The English exported slavery to the colonies then abolished it in England.

    3. Pretty much just seeing vox.com signals retardation.

    4. Christ. I’m currently in London and would love to hear this idiot espouse his hatred of America. Nitwit.

    5. There is a more intellectually robust argument in favor of parliamentary systems:


      Not saying I agree with him, but it’s more grounded and worthy of debate (he does not address the first two of Vox’s claims).

    6. The French and Indian war was an even worse idea. No mention of that, though.

    7. I skipped through that reading one sentence every paragraph. I pretty much got the whole thing. They utilize every proggy intellectual cookie-cutter in the set.

      It helps when you realize that 99% of what that guy does is churn out water-cooler chat for the self-anointed lefty-elitists. Its intended to be Upmarket Buzzfeed.

    8. Britain sent resources to the Confederacy to alleviate the Union blockade, you fucking half-wit with no knowledge of history. The British textiles industry was heavily dependent on cotton grown by slaves in the South. They had absolutely NO interest in ending slavery in the South. The only reason they were able to end slavery in their country (and why the North ended it as well) was because they had an industrial manufacturing economy. The backwards sister-fuckers in Dixieland did whatever they could to resist industrialization to keep their pastoral lifestyle.

      1. The debate in England was very much a debate as you allude to (and contrary to the Vox piece). There was a very strong anti-slavery group in England. Strong enough that, after the Napoleonic wars, they were able to persuade the government to use the navy to shut down British involvement in the slave trade. And then, they were able to strong arm other European governments into allowing the British navy to interdict their ships.

        On the other side of the debate were the textile manufacturers as you note.

        1. Egyptian cotton, and a blind eye to brown on brown slavery solved the textile problem.

    9. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out of your country, ingrate!

    10. Dude. Ouch. Like, not Ultramega OK.

    11. Shit. That just sprayed masturbatory fantasy all over my keyboard. Now I have to pop all the keys off and clean it.

    12. Yeah, I’m sure this concaved-chested little Vox pajama boy would have thought it better that we had remained a British colony, all the better to have been part of British imperialism and colonialism for the next 200 years!!! Why, just think how GLORIOUS it would be, that because we remained Brits, the Empire would still be controlling us today!!!

      AND I’m sure this a-historical creep would have agreed with the British when they compensated, with cash, slave-owners in the various colonies the 1833 Act applied to.

      “Well, harrumph, yes, you’ve got a point there, about these darkies being your property. So how ’bout we just pay you for them….?”

      (Curiously The Act didn’t apply to areas controlled by the East India Company or Sri Lanka. Can’t have anything interfere with our cheap cups of tea now, can we?)

  8. I’ve read several different essays on celebrating the birthday of our country, but none seem to grasp the significance of celebrating the Fourth of July. The Fourth Of July marks the signing of the Declaration of Independence. We didn’t actually gain our freedom until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles and the United States of America as we know it didn’t come into existence until the ratification of the Constitution, so why do we not mark the anniversary of either of those days as the birthday of our nation?
    I would submit that “America” isn’t a country but an ideal, an ideal embodied in the term “independence”. Americans became free the day they declared themselves free, the day they stated that it is a self-evident truth that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights. That statement, that idea, to me, is the true American Revolution.

    1. Now certainly King George III disputed that idea, but were we less endowed with Natural Rights just because the King had the power to keep us from exercising those rights? No, the King may have had the power but he lacked the authority – and that makes all the difference in the world. Frederick Douglass understood what Clarence Thomas understands and George Takei does not – human dignity does not depend on what someone with power over you thinks or feels or does, you are the one with the authority. Being held in captivity in whatever form that enslavement takes does not diminish your dignity as a human being. To the extent that those without authority exercise their power to enslave you, it diminishes their dignity. Feel free to feed them into the woodchipper, they are without human dignity.

      1. (And this is why the flap over Takei’s comments being racist aggravates me so much – it’s not the racist part of it that’s the problem, it’s the fact that he’s so wrong. I think libertarians in general grasp the idea that power and authority are two completely different things and that exercising power without authority is an abomination – and this is what we get so worked up about. Takei does not seem to grasp that power and authority are two different things.)

        1. The flap over Takei’s comments being racist is to point out the obvious hypocrisy that progressives can smear anybody they don’t like with the racist brush and it will stick, e.g. Cliven Bundy whim they use now to try to go after Rand Paul, but they can say much more overtly racist stuff and it’s okay because they practice rightthink.

    2. “We didn’t actually gain our freedom until…”

      That sort of thinking needs to get curbstomped any time it is expressed.

      It’s an extension of positivist legal doctrine, and a denial of exactly what you note – that the Declaration of Independence is perhaps the single greatest and most succinct expression of natural and universal rights that has ever appeared in print.

  9. I saw this and laughed

    Happy Fourth to all of us working today.

    1. I’m working today, too…

      I’m working on this bottle of vodka!

      Happy Fuck That Bitch-ass King of England Day!

  10. Finally got around to watching Kingsman last night. Total riot. It’s a decent silly action flick, but better still it spends the entire run time kicking dirt at the progressive left, from an AGW-obsessed megalomaniacal villain to the depiction of government officials as uniformly craven opportunists and the obnoxious social-consciousness technorati.

    1. One of the things that keeps me around this wretched hive is that, as many have noted before, there are a LOT of really, really smart people here. Really, where else can you go and expect someone with a username like “commodious spittoon” to give — in the comments section, no less! — such an eloquent review of a film?

      I’ll be toasting the commentariat today, for sure.

      1. I bet you’ll be toasting a lot of things today.

        1. I can only assume you’re talking about hamburger buns.

  11. It is regrettable that Frederick Douglas, like many other former slaves, never had the opportunity to kick the living shit out of the man who had falsely imprisoned him.


    1. I seem to remember a story about him punching the living shit out of one of his slavers.

  12. To borrow a phrase from Sean Hannity, truly a Great American. Everyone should read that speech at some point, definitely one of my favorite orations of all time.

    1. Amen to that. FD and George Washington Carver were my childhood heroes.

      1. Apropos of nothing, I would like to pedantically point out that we did not engage in revolution. We DID not sail to Great Britain, cut off the king ‘s head, and replace Parliament with a government headed by colonial appointees.

        We fought a war of independence, which was forced on us by a government intent on stripping us of our rights while maintaining it’s rule over us.

        1. Yup. It is remarkable that so few people today understand that, had Parliament and the Crown simply agreed to treat the colonists like they treated every other British subject it is very likely that we never would have declared, and most certainly would not have achieved our independence.

  13. This weekend, we as a nation celebrate our independence from an oppressive, tyrannical government … despite there never having been a time in our history when we as a nation have ever been more dependent on an oppressive, tyrannical government.

    Enjoy your alcohol and explosives responsibly together.

  14. There’s always somewhere worse:


    1. “The legislation progressed after the so-called Roast Busters case, in which teenage boys boasted online about sex with drunk and under-age girls.”

      Teenage boys bragging about sex – I’m shocked I tell you, and won’t tolerate such aberrant behvarior! Don’t worry, apparently the judicial “threshold” is high…

  15. John Adams on the Glorious 4th:
    “It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other…”
    I’d add woodchipping along with tar and feathers, too.

  16. Who is the gay equivalent to Frederick Douglass?

  17. Ken,

    Word. /tips beer in Ken’s direction.

  18. The too often overlooked part of Fredrick Douglas’ Epic Timeless Greatness?

    The hair.

    1. A Trump supporter?

      1. pshaw

        Trump’s coiffure evaporates with a puff of wind

        Douglas’ patented “Freedom ‘Fro” requires an iron rake and copious amounts of lye to simply tidy it up

        Hair that epic requires a man equal to the task of bearing it.

        1. U mad fro?

          1. Mad… mad about that hairstyle! (snap fingers sassy)

  19. George III must have been crazy to mess with America!

    1. Too soon?

  20. Of course Douglass is lying when he claimed he took nothing from his owner. That owner paid a lot of money for Douglass. In fact, Southern plantations, because of debt with Britain often found that the value of their slaves was the only reason they weren’t technically bankrupt.
    To the Southern slaveowner, freeing his slaves was simply robbery. And there were certainly more than a few plantatations that were home to the slaves and which they would not leave, even after being “freed.” Slaves working for Jeff Davis had better lives than a lot of Norhern factory workers.

    1. Not sure if serious.

      I mean, I’ve heard such arguments, just not on H&R.

      1. Whaddaya mean? Didn’t ya know that HyR is a bunch of rayciss Republican teabaggers? Bo personally assured us of that every time he’s on!

    2. Ah, what would the 4th of July be without a visit from Muriken?

      1. It’s nice when people keep up the old traditions.

          1. Me be folks don’t mind they’d integrated.

    3. “Of course Douglass is lying when he claimed he took nothing from his owner. That owner paid a lot of money for Douglass.”

      You’re missing the point that the people the slave owner paid for his slaves ultimately wasn’t the slave’s true owner.

      Those slaves were taken against their will. Many generations of them were born into slavery.

      Whatever it was that slaves took from their “owners” when they were freed, it was something that the slave owner had misappropriated anyway. Whether people should be allowed to sell themselves into slavery willingly might be a legitimate question, but the slaves we’re talking about didn’t sell themselves into slavery. They were either abducted or born into the condition of slavery, and despite being the true owners of themselves, they were never compensated and never signed a contract.

      You might have a point if you were talking about indentured servants.

    4. The important difference between Jefferson Davis’ slaves and factory workers in the North was about choice, too. Whether Jefferson Davis’ house slaves lived better than factory workers in the North according to your qualitative criteria isn’t the issue. The question is whether both factory workers and slaves had the freedom to leave and go work for someone else* if they wanted. It’s a qualitative distinction that could only be properly evaluated by the individual slaves who worked for slave owners like Davis–once those slaves were free to leave if they wanted, which is to say, once slavery had been abolished.

      *Not to mention whether they could be compelled to work through physical abuse, have their wives and children sold out from under them, learn to read, etc.

  21. LIncoln invited Douglass and other Black leaders to the White House to urge them to
    return to Africa and lead their Black brothers with them. Douglass was offended by the offer.
    Apparently Douglass didn’t think much of a nation run by Blacks.

    1. No, Douglass had the idea that black Americans were citizens and shouldn’t have to leave.

      1. *Gently pries the bag of troll feed from Notorious’ hands*

    2. Arthur, what do YOU think of a nation run by blacks?

      1. *Slaps the bag of troll feed out of jayburd’s hand*

        For crying out loud, ya’ll!

  22. There is hardly a man alive who will not willingly and joyously embrace his own enslavement, provided that slavery is also imposed upon his neighbor.

    1. Everybody else is doing it, so it must be good for me too.

      1. I take it you ‘re not into the whole brevity thing.

  23. Reading Douglass only makes me loathe Obama more.

    1. You haven’t reached Peak Loathing, yet?

      1. We’ll only reach peak loathing after they reach peak derp.

        1. So, never?

      2. Well, if not being able to watch him speak on tv anymore is peak loathing, then perhaps I’ve reached the end of the line.

        Dude is just tired in his vapid notions and stale thoughts.

  24. Slightly OT- http://www.sciencedaily.com/re…..85252.htm. Models just need to be tweaked.

    1. If the data is false they will only be reprimanded. http://wattsupwiththat.com/201…..stigation/

    2. Link no work.

      1. A government scientist (contractor) engaged in unethical behavior relating to a polar bear study and was “reprimanded”. Now the government has “updated” the model and made new, gloomy predictions about the bears.

        1. oh and this- http://www.adn.com/article/201…..scientists

  25. And now, I off to get drunk and set off fireworks.

  26. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8596 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…

    1. Wait, so I have to have a computer, an internet connection, AND a home?

  27. We watched Captain America:Winter Soldier again last. Such a good movie. I daresay The Marvel Universe movies are this generation’s Star Wars. If they aren’t, then they should be.

    1. meh

      one = the marvel universe is mainly appealing to generation x – the people who grew up reading comics cause there weren’t no internets. While younger people certainly dig on it, they don’t have the narrative background that makes the Marvel movies instantaneously intelligible to slightly older audiences.

      two = the whole thing about star wars was how it revitalized an entire style & concept of movie-making…. bringing back the 1930s “Space Opera”, Buck-Rogers-style episodic adventure-drama storytelling. Melodrama to the *max*, utterly sincere, never winking at the audience. Add to that the highly stylized, Kurosawa/Wellesian cinematic style that Lucas insisted upon (and which got bombastic at times)… and its differences with modern entertainment just get more and more stark. (no pun)

      three = the creation of an entirely different universe that doesn’t suggest any connection to ‘earth’ or this dimension in any way. The marvel universe, for all its depth, is simply a skin overlayed on top of contemporary ‘real life’. It lacks the inventive commitment of something like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Dune, etc.

      just my POV. The failure of the second round of Star Wars films really almost destroyed everything good about the originals in my view, and certainly failed to hook the next generation on that universe the way the first ones did. My nieces never got into any of them. Harry Potter, on the other hand…. is their ‘Epic Childhood Myth’.

      1. Well shut my mouth.

        I can see what you ‘re saying about invented world’s.

        I was considering rather the more surface element of “Good Guys vs Bad Guys” type stories, with fantastical elements thrown in for flavor. Captain America is my favorite character in these movies, because he is innately a good guy, which seems rare anymore. Luke Skywalker was also a good guy; whenever faced with the choice between evil and good, he chose the good. The one time he almost changed to darkness, it was, in his mind, to protect someone he loved.

        1. Don’t get me wrong – I love the marvel films. i liked the first Captain America the most for its backstory and origin-myth, the WWII setting.

          Thor (both of them) were a little too “i’m the hot one who appeals to teen girls” for my tastes. Just too shiny-cute and going for cheap jokes. The iron man trilogy is fantastic. The first Whedon Avengers was masterfully done. I haven’t seen the more recent one

          I don’t know the “Civil War” plot they’re modeling the new movies off of….. i was a huge fan of the 1980s “Secret Wars” marvel mega-story. I collected dozens of the spin-off issues. its a similar idea – a schizm between groups of Marvel characters, forced to fight each other by the Beyonder (Galactus’ Boss) in a kind of Superhero Hunger Games

          Too complex for a film (set in alternate dimension, too many characters). But I think a lot of the same elements are present in the Civil War plotline – at least in the divisions that emerge between the “Good guys” over where their loyalties lie, and how much authority they’re willing to stomach

  28. the guy actually SUFFERED UNDER SLAVERY as a slave himself, and still managed to write against it in a level-headed sane manner,

    while our modern liberals are histrionic about everything, pfffffff

    1. Ive seen you in hysterics over food trucks and narrow New England streets. 🙂

      Happy Quatro de Julio!

  29. Also worthy to remember that today is the second half of a 1-2 combo that sent the so-called CSA to oblivion. In 1863, yesterday Lee fails at Gettysburg and today the Vicksburg army surrenders to U.S. Grant. By March 1864 Grant will command all the US Armies and 13 months later the CSA will be in the dump of history. Grant understood how to fight campaigns and not merely battles and his opponents realized that.

  30. A song for the 4th as well for Frederick Douglass


  31. Bumper sticker first seen today:
    (Obo logo)
    “Because everyone deserves what you’ve worked for!”

  32. John Adams to Abigail:
    I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
    You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

  33. Is this guy the latest token black guy from history that can’t defend himself against libertarians trying to claim him as one of their own? Is MLK next, or Malcom X? I bet in 100 years when there is some biography hailing Jesse Jackson, the libertarians then will try to argue that if you read his words carefully then Jesse Jackson was also a secret libertarian.

    Fact: There are about 5 African American who aren’t democrats and of those 4.5 are social conservatives.

    1. Don’t you find it sad (especially given their heritage) that so many African-Americans doesn’t value liberty? Not that A-A’s are alone in this. Take any group that has suffered from statism (African Americans, women, Jews, Gays) and judging from their voting patterns, instead of embracing liberty, they turn to State-f*cking.

    2. Nice strawman you’ve got there.

      Douglass’ words and deeds speak for themselves. No one is attempting to “claim” him, as if that were even possible. There were no “libertarians” in the 19th century and everyone knows that. But it is not wrong, nor inaccurate to note that his beliefs are largely consistent with the principle of libertarianism.

      An argument you studiously avoided, knowing that you had no ground on which to stand.

      1. Maybe you missed the closing lines of Root’s essay.

        But as we hurtle through history, what we need more than anything is a compass by which to chart future actions. Douglass’ life and writings help provide that in a way few other examples can.

        Sounds more like ‘following’ rather than ‘claiming.’

  34. This is not OT


    Go Texas. Maybe this explains why the current group of Texas politicians get such bad press.

  35. Hey Reasonoids. Happy FUCK MERCANTILISM DAY !!!! =)


  36. Also Fredrick Douglas had giant brass balls for sending a letter to his former slave master. I respect that.

  37. The meaning of the 4th of July to many is let’s have a BBQ and have a “discussion” about how mandated healthcare and all these government taxes are the reason we are “free” and have good lives. How we didn’t build that, and without the gov’t, there would be chaos of individuals were free.

    How we folks past and present are “fighting for freedoms” while systemically taking them away here at home. Folks ignore the chaos and slavery that surrounds them. Some feel comfortable in their homes and their jobs, until one wrong run in with the agents of the state does their lives get turned upside down. When they loose their job, and cannot afford the property taxes, their stuff gets taken from them, and their resistance can result in their death.

    For the politicians have a newfound slavery, where all walks of individuals are enslaved. People revolted over a minuscule tax rate, while now the slaves to the state pay near half their incomes in various taxes. This republic is lost, and the experiment of government is yet again like all others, a failure.

  38. Frederick Douglass would certainly have agreed a lot more with Clarence Thomas than George Takei. And if he was alive today, the left would probably call him an “Uncle Tom” and a “clown in blackface” too.

  39. Sounds like Pahrump to me. That is a terrific town!

    1. I’ve kicked around in those desert towns for hiking/camping. Last slice of the Old West.

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  41. Frederick Douglas was a brilliant man, I believe he would feel the same way about the IMMORAL act of abortion as he did with slavery, that an unborn human should not be property of the mother and she should NOT have the right to CHOOSE to KILL her unborn child. For those of you who call yourself pro-choice, have the courage to go to abortionno.org and view this IMMORAL act!
    Our charity, Save Unborn Life saveunbornlife.org has saved 70 unborn babies by offering their moms a sum of $3000 to not kill her unborn child! Abolitionists back in the 1800’s used to go to slave auctions and bid the highest bid to give the slave his/her freedom MONEY made the difference. Oscar Schindler also paid the Nazis a sum for the freedom/lives of 1,100 Jews, and we praised him, so until we come to the same conclusion as Douglas that “There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven, that does not know that slavery is wrong for him”, it is also true for abortion!
    P.S. If you made the choice to end your unborn baby’s life in the past, join us at saveunbornlife.org and help us convince other women to choose life!
    Laura Merriott

  42. This just in: George Takei calls Douglass “the first clown in blackface.”

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  44. I believe Frederick Douglass would have been rather adamant about the fact that he was a Republican, and not, as suggested, a classical liberal–unless the writer is suggesting that this was a feature of many of the founding Republicans.

    Which, I suspect, is true.

    1. All of the founders certainly would have thought of themselves as liberals, at least of the sort as understood at the time. And it was probably the same for most American politicians up through the civil war.

      Eventually some came to be the later sort of liberal – the branch that arose out of Continental Enlightenment, Rousseau, etc. that eventually led to the modern left via Kant, Hegel, Marx, et.al. Much of which did come to infect the Republican party as well.

      But, if given the chance to know our vernacular, I do think Douglass would accept the classical liberal descriptor. If only to differentiate himself from those elements of his party that he would surely see as alien and offensive to liberty.

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  46. RE: Frederick Douglass on Liberty, Slavery, and the Fourth of July
    “Interpreted as it ought to be interpreted, the Constitution is a glorious liberty document.”

    Mr. Douglas had it wrong about the US Constitution.
    I am sure we all know this document has finally been changed down through past ten decades as a license for slavery, but the beneficial form.
    Allow me explain.
    Slavery, as was practice in the 18th and 19th century was a stain on our history because it was a capitalist enterprise.
    This peculiar institution was justifiable destroyed.
    However, it wasn’t until the 1930’s when Comrade FDR and his merry morons discovered the acceptable, indeed preferable, form of slavery through entitlements.
    This form of slavery came from The State, and therefore, is welcomed and condoned by every right-minded socialist slaver to this very day.
    One only has to examine the wonderful, pleasant and safe public housing projects to recognize how better off the enslaved who take government entitlements are living than those who foolishly toil for their daily bread.
    The New Slavery called entitlements have produced such wonderful by products as fatherless families, drug and alcohol addiction, crime, higher suicide rates, etc. among those still chained to the entitlement form of bondage. But isn’t that a small price to pay for improving slavery in this country?

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