July 4th, 1852

Think things are much different today? I probably would beg to differ . . . but either way, Frederick Douglass’ words are definitely worth reading . . .

Fellow Citizens: Pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called to speak here today? What have I or those I represent to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits, and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

. . . I am not included within the pale of this 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 life and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony.

. . . What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of 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 denunciation 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’s thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.

(read the entire text of Douglass’ speech here.)

2 thoughts on “July 4th, 1852

  1. You know I didn’t read any of the above. Don’t worry. If you want your Christmas present to be for me to donate to a worthy cause, I will.

  2. So, are you saying that descendants of slaves should have their own Independence Day? Emancipation Day or the anniversary of the Civil Rights Act? Perhaps that’s something worth giving some thought. The freedom of the Anglo’s from British tyranny allowed us to become tyrants in our own way.
    Even in the midst of freedom, some are never free, as the Irish of early 20th century and Mexicans of today could attest. They were/are still labeled, pre-judged, treated badly for being part of a third class. Every society has one, and one day ours shall revolt.

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