Hey 1619 Project Peeps: If America Sucks So Much, Why Did Frederick Douglass Say This?

Written by Wes Walker on July 5, 2021

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America-haters love to cite Frederick Douglass’s July 4th speech of 1852. But what about this speech he gave in 1876?

The man who blasted an America that enslaved its own citizens with withering words like these…

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. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour. — NewsOne

Praised in the very same speech the courage and virtue of the Founding Fathers who first made July 4th possible.

Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men too — great enough to give fame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory. — NewsOne

That praise of the Founding Fathers from the lips of Frederick Douglass alone would send America-haters’ heads spinning. But that’s from what he had to say in 1852. If you want to really mess them up, just skip ahead to the speech he gave while unveiling a statue. You may remember it as the same one that activists in 2020 wanted to tear down because they don’t know their history. Here’s some history of that monument that they were ignorant of…

On April 14, 1876, the Emancipation Memorial (also known as the Freedmen’s Memorial Monument) was unveiled in a special ceremony in Washington, DC.

Upon hearing of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, freed slave Charlotte Scott said, “Colored people lost their best friend on earth.” She then declared that she wanted to honor the fallen President with a memorial. Scott donated the first five dollars she earned as a free woman to her former master for that purpose.

Scott’s actions were widely publicized and marked the start of a fund-raising drive for the Emancipation Memorial. The Western Sanitary Commission, a volunteer war-relief agency, took over fund-raising activities, collecting $20,000 before announcing their goal of $50,000. The majority (if not all) of the funds came from freed slaves, primarily African American Union veterans.

Sculpted by Thomas Ball, the statue depicts Lincoln holding the Emancipation Proclamation, with a newly freed slave with broken shackles, preparing to stand and embrace his freedom. The former slave is Archer Alexander, the last man captured under the Fugitive Slave Act, whose story was made famous by William Greenleaf Eliot. —MSC

When that statue was erected in D.C. on the 11th anniversary of Lincoln’s death, Douglass himself gave the address. Here are some highlights from THAT speech that you’ll never hear the 1619 people and their America-is-Evil narrative mention…

Few facts could better illustrate the vast and wonderful change which has taken place in our condition as a people than the fact of our assembling here for the purpose we have today. Harmless, beautiful, proper, and praiseworthy as this demonstration is, I cannot forget that no such demonstration would have been tolerated here twenty years ago. The spirit of slavery and barbarism, which still lingers to blight and destroy in some dark and distant parts of our country, would have made our assembling here the signal and excuse for opening upon us all the flood-gates of wrath and violence. That we are here in peace today is a compliment and a credit to American civilization, and a prophecy of still greater national enlightenment and progress in the future. I refer to the past not in malice, for this is no day for malice; but simply to place more distinctly in front the gratifying and glorious change which has come both to our white fellow-citizens and ourselves, and to congratulate all upon the contrast between now and then; the new dispensation of freedom with its thousand blessings to both races, and the old dispensation of slavery with its ten thousand evils to both races — white and black. In view, then, of the past, the present, and the future, with the long and dark history of our bondage behind us, and with liberty, progress, and enlightenment before us, I again congratulate you upon this auspicious day and hour.

…For the first time in the history of our people, and in the history of the whole American people, we join in this high worship, and march conspicuously in the line of this time-honored custom. … in the presence and with the approval of the members of the American House of Representatives, reflecting the general sentiment of the country; that in the presence of that august body, the American Senate, representing the highest intelligence and the calmest judgment of the country; in the presence of the Supreme Court and Chief-Justice of the United States, to whose decisions we all patriotically bow; in the presence and under the steady eye of the honored and trusted President of the United States, with the members of his wise and patriotic Cabinet, we, the colored people, newly emancipated and rejoicing in our blood-bought freedom, near the close of the first century in the life of this Republic, have now and here unveiled, set apart, and dedicated a monument of enduring granite and bronze, in every line, feature, and figure of which the men of this generation may read, and those of aftercoming generations may read, something of the exalted character and great works of Abraham Lincoln, the first martyr President of the United States.

…Had Abraham Lincoln died from any of the numerous ills to which flesh is heir; had he reached that good old age of which his vigorous constitution and his temperate habits gave promise; had he been permitted to see the end of his great work; had the solemn curtain of death come down but gradually — we should still have been smitten with a heavy grief, and treasured his name lovingly. But dying as he did die, by the red hand of violence, killed, assassinated, taken off without warning, not because of personal hate — for no man who knew Abraham Lincoln could hate him — but because of his fidelity to union and liberty, he is doubly dear to us, and his memory will be precious forever.

Fellow-citizens, I end, as I began, with congratulations. We have done a good work for our race today. In doing honor to the memory of our friend and liberator, we have been doing highest honors to ourselves and those who come after us; we have been fastening ourselves to a name and fame imperishable and immortal; we have also been defending ourselves from a blighting scandal. When now it shall be said that the colored man is soulless, that he has no appreciation of benefits or benefactors; when the foul reproach of ingratitude is hurled at us, and it is attempted to scourge us beyond the range of human brotherhood, we may calmly point to the monument we have this day erected to the memory of Abraham Lincoln. —ERB

The progenitor of the 1619 project took it as a badge of honor when statues that had been torn down were defaced with those same numbers, as though something had been contributed to society by that action.

But here is a man who had personally felt the lash cut his flesh, who fought to free his countrymen from a gave injustice, who lived to see them emancipated, and who STILL saw America through eyes more proud and grateful than many elected politicians serving in office still today.

Frederick Douglass had every reason to resent and loathe America, but he saw the ideal upon which it was founded, loved America for those ideals, and did his part to help those ideals be shared among ALL citizens of this great nation.

But the supposed intellectuals of our day seem only to know how to condemn and undermine what others have built before them.

Should we praise historical arsonists for their skill at destroying the work of better men and women than themselves? Or should they be held in the same general contempt as their felonious namesakes?

Fortunately for America, Frederick Douglass was a great man and not the sort of small and petty soul as those who pretend to take up his cause today.