Sunday, September 1, 2013

Frederick Douglass

Sir, the Americans may tell of their ability, and I have no doubt they have it, to keep back the invader's hosts, to repulse the strongest force that its enemies may send against this country. It may boast, and rightly boast of its capacity to build its ramparts so high that no foe can hope to scale them—to render them so impregnable as to defy the assaults of the world. But, sir, there is one thing it cannot resist, come from what quarter it may. It cannot resist TRUTH. You cannot build your forts so strong, nor your ramparts so high, nor arm yourselves so powerfully, as to be able to withstand the overwhelming MORAL SENTIMENT against Slavery now flowing into this land. For example: Prejudice against Color is continually becoming weaker in this land; and why? Because the whole European Continent denounces this sentiment as unworthy a lodgment in the breast of an enlightened community. And the American abroad dares not now, even in a public conveyance, to lift his voice in defense of this disgusting prejudice.


(Douglass, Frederick (2011-03-30). Abolition Fanaticism in New York Speech of a Runaway Slave from Baltimore, at an Abolition Meeting in New York, Held May 11, 1847 (Kindle Locations 85-92).  . Kindle Edition.)

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  (John 8: 31, 32)


Ignorance breeds slavery. Knowledge set you free. Ignorance believes in many falsehoods. Knowledge is knowing what is TRUE.

Frederick Douglass knew at a very young age that education was the way to get out of slavery. The Slave holders saw this knowledge as a devil. Douglass was known as a good worker, but education had put the devil in him according to those who would own his soul. It was education, knowledge of the truth, that made Douglass aware that he was a man and therefore could not be owned by another man. He would give of his body and work for those who held a paper saying he was their chattel, but his soul he would not give. His body suffered many whippings and he was afflicted to the point of death, and it was accepting death that made him free. The fear of death had made him a slave. Now, knowing truth, he no longer feared death, so he could no longer be whipped into submission.

So education led Frederick Douglass to know the TRUTH and that TRUTH set him free. Divine providence was on his side. He knew it and lived a life that no fiction writer could have made up. Almost starved and whipped to death as a slave, Frederick Douglass went on to be an advisor to presidents of the United States. He became friend and helper of the oppressed and led the slave masters as well as the slaves out of the system of slavery. It was that system that was his enemy. He told his former owner that the slave master was as much a victim of the system as was the slave. Douglass and Auld were both victims. One was made to bear the lash, the other was made to wield the lash.

The Slave was denied education. It was feared that if he should learn the truth he would no longer be content being a slave. The slave master denied truth. Although he had access to education he refused to see any way except the way of slavery. He attempted to justify an unjust system and truth would not let him do that. Being thus blinded he made himself a victim of the slavery system.

The brilliant mind of Frederick Douglass could see the danger of slavery. Frederick Douglass was for the people and against slavery. He pleaded with the slave holders, not only for his sake and the sake of those like him, but for the very soul of the slave holder himself. In his letter to Thomas Auld, his old master he expressed a wish to have Auld as a guest in his house so he could show him by example how one person should treat another person.

Frederick Douglass showed us by example that it is better to attack a problem than to attack a person. He abhorred the practice of slavery and would do anything to rid the world of its evil influence but his goal was not revenge, but to free both slave holder and slave from the fetters of slavery.

As Douglass entered the field of politics he was far advanced from the time he lived, even far advanced of the present time. We still see politicians attacking each other to the extent that the public has lost confidence in the system. Newspapers know that conflict sells and they give priority to the dirty deeds. Douglass could disagree with the position a politician would take while still considering him a friend. We do not have to agree on everything, but we can discuss our differences in a friendly manner. If the presidents that Douglass was advising could have seen the wisdom of this approach we could have had a very different kind of politics today. Imagine politicians praising one another’s attributes while encouraging each other to do better. We could have solved every difficulty in the world by now and eliminated any excuse for war. This will be the way of the future. The survival of the world depends upon it.

I praise Frederick Douglass, not as a prophet, but as a man put on earth to do a job. God placed him in time and place where he could do the most good. Being an ordinary man, his abilities are not above our own, and we can all do similar works. We have but to take up TRUTH as a cause and treat it as our best friend. When we come across evil and falsehood, we need to shine the light of Truth on it. A light appears brightest we it shines in the darkest recesses. Frederick Douglass was a shining light during one of the darkest times in our history.

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