The Death of Frederick Douglass, the Mourning of a Nation, and the Power of Scripture

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During Black History Month, America recounts the amazing stories of truly remarkable African-Americans. However, there are incredible facts that are left out or glossed over because they do not fit the progressive agenda.  A former slave turned writer and civil rights advocate, Frederick Douglass is so much more than the history books tell.

Separated from his mother as an infant, Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey (Douglass) was raised by his grandmother until age 7.  Three years later, he was sent to Hugh Auld in Baltimore.  There, Auld’s wife, Sophia, illegally taught Douglass to read using the Bible.  Auld reprimanded his wife, who continued teaching Douglass. Slave owners knew an educated slave was a dangerous slave as they would soon demand their freedom.  It’s why Democrats adamantly oppose school vouchers today.

Auld finally convinced her that slavery and education do not mix.  However, Douglass already had an unquenchable thirst for reading, writing, and the Lord.

Douglass continued his education, exchanging his lunch for tutoring lessons from local white children.  Before long, Douglass started teaching other slaves using the New Testament.  He held Sunday services which slave owners forcefully stopped.

In 1838, a free Baltimore black woman, Anna Murray, helped 20-year-old Douglass escape to New York. Joining him a few days later, they married on September 15th.  To avoid attention, they used the surname Johnson.  They permanently chose Douglass after settling in a free black community in New Bedford, Massachusetts. 

A licensed preacher, Douglass also immersed himself in the abolition movement.  In 1845, his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave gained him worldwide recognition.  During a European tour, supporters raised enough funds for him to purchase his freedom.

Douglass’ abolitionist paper, The North Star, used the motto “Right is of no Sex – Truth is of no Color – God is the Father of us all, and we are all brethren.” This, along with his endorsement of women’s rights, quickly gathered support before the Civil War.

Initially, Douglass believed the Constitution was pro-slavery. However, Lysander Spooner’s The Unconstitutionality of Slavery, (1846), showed Douglass the Constitution was completely anti-slavery.  At this point, Douglass stopped fighting against the Constitution and began fighting with the Constitution.  However, this change did not sit well with other abolitionists or today’s black activists.

A man of God, Douglass protested with words.  While agreeing with John Brown’s anti-slavery stance, Douglass refused to participate in Brown’s violence.   As a peaceful pastor, Douglass knew he would loose credibility with his white supporters if he acted otherwise.  

Douglass realized literacy and citizenship produced equality.  When the war started, Douglass argued for blacks participating, believing it lead to citizenship.  But first, slaves needed emancipation. 

The 1860 Republican platform promised freedom.  Douglass pushed this with President Abraham Lincoln using the power of the press.  Lincoln hesitated, as such a divisive move could result in northern Democrats revolting, fracturing the nation even more.  However, Douglass continued his pursuit until Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, effective January 1, 1863.  

Yet, Lincoln did not take offense to Douglass’ criticism.  Instead, in an unprecedented move, he invited Douglass to the White House.  Douglass accepted, despite his frustration with Lincoln’s slow progress.  Again, he chose cooperation over conflict, finding common ground.  During their meeting, Lincoln confessed, “Douglass, I hate slavery as much as you do, and I want to see it abolished altogether.”

As a result, Lincoln and Douglass became close friends.  In fact, Douglass met with Lincoln at the White House on several occasions.  According to Douglass, during one visit:

“While in conversation with him [Lincoln], his secretary twice announced Governor Buckingham of Connecticut, one of the noblest and most patriotic of the loyal governors.  Mr. Lincoln said: Tell Governor Buckingham to wait, for I want to have a long talk with my friend, Frederick Douglass.  I interposed and begged him to see the governor at once, as I could wait, but no, he persisted that he wanted to talk with me and that Governor Buckingham could wait.”

Realizing Lincoln made a white Governor wait while he conversed with a black man, Douglass continued:

“This was probably the first time in the history of this Republic when its chief magistrate found occasion or disposition to exercise such an act of impartiality between persons so widely different in their positions and supposed claims upon his attention. From the manner of the governor, when he was finally admitted, I inferred that he was as well satisfied with what Mr. Lincoln had done, or had omitted to do, as I was.  In his (Lincoln’s) company I was never in any way reminded of my humble origin, or of my unpopular colour.”

After Lincoln’s death, in a thank you note to Mary Lincoln, Douglass praised Lincoln for his “humane interest in the welfare of my whole race.”  In his last autobiography, Douglass proclaimed Lincoln America’s “greatest president.”

Because Democrats have to hide their party’s battle for perpetual slavery, they slander Lincoln, denying and lying about his passion in abolishing it.  Therefore, they also downplay much of Douglass’ accomplishments after the war.

Republican presidents cherished Douglass.  Ulysses S. Grant appointed him Assistant Secretary of the commission to annex the Dominican Republic.  Under Rutherford B. Hayes, Douglass held the highest government position by a black person as U.S. Marshall for D.C.  James A. Garfield’s administration included four blacks with Douglass as the recorder of deeds for D.C.  When Democrat Grover Cleveland entered the White House, Douglass was dismissed, like most blacks. However, four years later Republican Benjamin Harrison welcomed Douglass back as Ambassador of Haiti.

Douglass lost some support when he proposed postponing women’s suffrage, removing it from the 15th Amendment.  He knew the amendment would fail if they tried to gain voting rights for blacks and women at the same time.  In 1874, in efforts to repair the split between abolitionists and women’s suffrage advocates, the Equal Rights Party nominated Douglass as their VP. The first black ever on a presidential ballot, Douglass’ unawareness of the nomination does not diminish its historical significance.

Douglass professed, “I am a Republican, a black, dyed in the wool Republican, and I never intend to belong to any other party than the party of freedom and progress.”

The Republican Party loved him too.  At the 1888 Republican National Convention, Douglass received one vote for President of the United States.  The first roll call vote for a black man was another huge victory for the black population. 

Douglass’ income from writing, speaking engagements and presidential appointments totaled about $300,000, roughly $10 million today. Yet blacks did not banish him or demand he “spread the wealth.”  They regarded him as a pioneer, blazing a path they could follow and prosper from themselves.  

He went from serving a master to willing serving his country.  Forgiving America for her past, Douglass moved forward, doing everything he could to advance humanity.

I loved all mankind, slaveholders not excepted, though I abhorred slavery more than ever.  I saw the world in a new light, and my great concern was to have everybody converted.  My desire to learn increased, and especially, did I want a thorough acquaintance with the contents of the Bible.” (Life and Times of Frederick Douglass

Douglass was the original MLK. He fought his entire life for the rights and freedoms of all people.  That is why the country sincerely mourned this death on February 20, 1895.  He changed hearts and minds, not with violence and threats, but with love and education.  And it all started with someone reading him the Bible.

But that’s just my 2 cents.


Pamela Adams

Pamela J. Adams maintains which includes her blog Liberating Letters. She is a stay-at-home mom who began researching history, science, religion, and current events to prepare for home schooling. She started Liberating Letters as short lessons for her daughter and publishes them for everyone’s benefit. Pamela has a Degree in Mathematics and was in the workforce for 20 years as a teacher, Marketing Director, Manager and Administrative Assistant. She has been researching her personal family history for over 24 years, publishing 3 books on her family’s genealogy. Follow her @PJA1791 & You can find her books Here.

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