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History As It Happens

Jun 30, 2022

On July 4, 1852, Frederick Douglass delivered remarks of enduring significance and American eloquence to an audience of abolitionists. He mixed condemnation of the nation's tolerance of slavery with hope and uplift. He embraced the founding fathers and defended the Constitution while attacking his fellow citizens for hypocrisy and inaction. "What, To The Slave, Is The Fourth Of July?" was quintessential Frederick Douglass. Historian James Oakes discusses the ideas behind Douglass' rhetorical tour de force, his relationship with Abraham Lincoln, and the critical importance of antislavery politics in bringing about the destruction of slavery.