A Letter from Frederick Douglass (Partial)

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This letter has been digitized by the Clements Library at the University of Michigan.

Here is the Link to the scanned original doc.

“This manuscript broadside advertised a festival on July 5 of 1852, featuring a reading of the “Glorious Declaration of 1776” and a speech by Frederick Douglass under the auspices of the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society. His oration praised the greatness and bravery of the founding fathers before eloquently illuminating the anniversary as a deceitful mockery in the face of American slavery. This speech, now better known as “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” is widely considered to be one of the highest points of 19th-century American oratory.”

Douglass would proclaim: “I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn…

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? 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. 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.”

We need Junteenth to be a Federal Holiday.

2 thoughts on “A Letter from Frederick Douglass (Partial)

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