Skip to content

Happy Birthday Frederick Douglas

Happy Birthday Frederick Douglas

By ns_admin

February 14 marks the 200th birthday of Frederick Douglas. Douglas was born a slave and went on to become one of the most eloquent opponents of slavery and champions of human liberty in American history.

Last year, I wrote about why Douglas is a role model for Libertarians in a post:

Black History Month is an excellent time to revisit Damon Root’s 2012 Reason Magazine essay Fredrick Douglas: Classical Liberal

In April 1865, as the Civil War was reaching its bloody climax, the abolitionist leader and escaped former slave Frederick Douglass stood before the Massachusetts Antislavery Society and delivered a rousing speech entitled What the Black Man Wants. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us, Douglass told the crowd. I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief. In fact, he continued, if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!

To modern ears, statements like let him alone and do nothing may sound suspiciously libertarian. Frederick Douglass has long been accused of harboring certain libertarian tendencies. University of Virginia historian Waldo Martin, for example, charged that Douglass do nothing rhetoric revealed an unfortunate procapitalist bias in his otherwise commendable thinking. Yale University historian David Blight, meanwhile, has criticized Douglass for preaching a laissez-faire individualism that echoed the reigning Social Darwinism of the day.

Its true that Frederick Douglass simultaneously championed both civil rights and economic liberty. But the proper term for that combination isnt Social Darwinism; its classical liberalism. The central component of Douglass worldview was the principle of self-ownership, which he understood to include both racial equality and the right to enjoy the fruits of ones labor.

Douglasss arguments against slavery are, in a very important sense, arguments for liberalism, writes Linfield College political scientist Nicholas Buccola in The Political Thought of Frederick Douglass, his engaging new study of the great abolitionist. Taking seriously Douglass dual commitment to both a robust conception of mutual responsibility and the ideas of universal self-ownership, natural rights, limited government, and an ethos of self-reliance, Buccola offers a nuanced portrait that illuminates both Douglass and his place in American intellectual history.

Born in February 1818 in Tuckahoe, Maryland, to a slave mother and a white, likely slaveholding father, Frederick Douglass escaped from bondage at the age of 20, making his way first to New York City, where he got married, and then to the whaling port of New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he changed his last name (he had been known as Frederick Bailey until then) and found a job loading ships. I was now my own master a tremendous fact, he later wrote. The thoughts I can work! I have no Master Hugh to rob me of my earnings placed me in a state of independence.

Within a year he was attending abolitionist lectures and subscribing to The Liberator, the abolitionist weekly edited by William Lloyd Garrison, the countrys most famous antislavery leader, who became a friend and early mentor. Encouraged to share his own remarkable story, Douglass soon became a fixture on the abolitionist lecture circuit, captivating audiences with his gripping account of the outrages he suffered and witnessed under the peculiar institution.

Socialism was then becoming particularly attractive to many New England reformers. Yet Douglass rejected the socialist case against private land ownership, saying it is duty to possess it and to possess it in that way in which its energies and properties can be made most useful to the human family. He routinely preached the virtues of property rights. So far from being a sin to accumulate property, it is the plain duty of every man to lay up something for the future, he told a black crowd in Rochester, New York in 1885. I am for making the best of both worlds and making the best of this world first, because it comes first. As Douglass glowing description of his first paying job indicated, he also considered economic liberty an essential aspect of human freedom.

Nor was Douglass a fan of organized labor. Since most labor unions at the time excluded blacks from their ranks, while lobbying the government for exclusive privileges, Douglass justifiably saw unions as yet another racist obstacle to black economic independence. As he argued in his 1874 essay The Folly, Tyranny, and Wickedness of Labor Unions, there was abundant proof almost every day of their mischievous influence upon every industrial interest in the country.

As for Garrisons pacifism and anarchism, Douglass thought them preposterous in the face of the state-sanctioned outrages perpetrated under the slave system and later under the Souths incipient Jim Crow regime. Yes, let us have peace, but let us have liberty, law, and justice first, he declared on Memorial Day, 1878. Let us have the Constitution, with its thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments, fairly interpreted, faithfully executed, and cheerfully obeyed.

A highlight of The Political Thought of Frederick Douglass is Buccolas sharp analysis of how Douglass belief in social responsibility shaped and informed his political judgments. Douglasss hope, Buccola writes, was that men could be so devoted to freedom the value he identified as the center of the northern social system that they would be moved to action on behalf of their neighbors. Unfortunately for both Douglass and the country, things didnt always work out that way, and his optimism diminished as he aged.


Buccola is slightly less persuasive when it comes to Douglass complicated relationship to government power. Douglass had a reform liberals sensitivity to the ways in which social and economic inequality can undermine the promise of liberty, Buccola argues. As such, he defended an active role for the state to combat inequality and promote fairness.

Douglass did defend an active role for the federal government, including subsidized land grants by the Freedmens Bureau and universal public education for African Americans. But there is an important distinction between his justifications for these programs and the arguments made today by advocates of welfare-state liberalism.

As far as Douglass was concerned, the former slaves had been robbed, not just of the fruits of their labor but of their very minds and bodies. They were therefore entitled to some serious compensation from the federal and state governments that had aided, abetted, and profited from those crimes. So he wasnt talking about redistribution; he was talking about restitution paid directly to the victims.

Read the whole article here.


View the original article at

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Posted in Analysis & Review, Civil Rights and Privacy, Politics.

Tagged with , , .

Support #altnews & keep Dark Politricks alive

Remember I told you over 5 years ago that they would be trying to shut down sites and YouTube channels that are not promoting the "Official" view. Well it's happening big time. Peoples Channels get no money from YouTube any more and Google is being fishy with their AdSense giving money for some clicks but not others. The time is here, it's not "Obama's Internet Cut Off Switch" it's "Trumps Sell Everyones Internet Dirty Laundry Garage Sale".

It's not just Google/YouTube defunding altenative chanels (mine was shut), but Facebook is also removing content, shutting pages, profiles and groups and removing funds from #altnews that way as well. I was recently kicked off FB and had a page "unpublished" with no reason given. If you don't know already all Facebooks Private Messages and Secret Groups are still analysed and checked for words related to drugs, sex, war etc against their own TOS. Personally IU know there are undercover Irish police moving from group to group cloning peoples accounts and getting people booted. Worse than that I know people in court at the moment for the content they had on their secret private group. Use Telegrams secret chat mode to chat on, or if you prefer Wickr. Or if you need to, buy a dumb phone with nothing for the NSA to hack into if you are that paranoid. Ensure it has no GPS tracking on it and the battery can be removed. These are usually built for old people to get used to technology storing only a set of numbers to call. However they have no games, applications to install and other ways people can exploit the computer tracking device you carry round with you most of the day.

So if your not supporting this site already which brings you news from the Left to the Right (really the same war mongering bollox) then I could REALLY do with some..

Even if it's just £5 or tick the monthly subscription box and throw a few pound my way each month, it will be much appreciated. Read on to find out why.


Any support to keep this site would be appreciated. You could set up a monthly subscription for £2 like some people do or you could pay a one off donation as a gift.
I am not asking you to pay me for other people's articles, this is a clearing house as well as place to put my own views out into the world. I am asking for help to write more articles like my recent false flag gas attack to get WWIII started in Syria, and Trump away from Putin. Hopefully a few missiles won't mean a WikiLeaks release of that infamous video Trump apparently made in a Russian bedroom with Prostitutes. Also please note that this article was written just an hour after the papers came out, and I always come back and update them.

If you want to read JUST my own articles then use the top menu I have written hundreds of articles for this site and I host numerous amounts of material that has seen me the victim of hacks, DOS plus I have been kicked off multiple hosting companies, free blogging sites, and I have even had threats to cease and desist from the US armed forces. Therefore I have to pay for my own server which is NOT cheap. The more people who read these article on this site the more it costs me so some support would be much appreciated.

I have backups of removed reports shown, then taken down after pressure, that show collusion between nations and the media. I have the full redacted 28/29 pages from the 9.11 commission on the site which seems to have been forgotten about as we help Saudi Arabia bomb Yemeni kids hiding in the rubble with white phosphorus, an illegal weaapon. One that the Israeli's even used when they bombed the UN compound in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. We complain about Syrian troops (US Controlled ISIS) using chemical weapons to kill "beautiful babies". I suppose all those babies we kill in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria are just not beautiful enough for Trumps beautiful baby ratio. Plus we kill about 100 times as many as ISIS or the Syrian army have managed by a factor of about 1000 to 1.

I also have a backup of the FOX News series that looked into Israeli connections to 9.11. Obviously FOX removed that as soon as AIPAC, ADL and the rest of the Hasbra brigade protested.

I also have a copy of the the original Liberal Democrats Freedom Bill which was quickly and quietly removed from their site once they enacted and replaced with some watered down rubbish instead once they got into power. No change to police tactics, protesting or our unfair extradition treaty with the USA but we did get a stop to being clamped on private land instead of the mny great ideas in the original.

So ANY support to keep this site running would be much appreciated! I don't have much money after leaving my job and it is a choice between shutting the server or selling the domain or paying a lot of money just so I can show this material.

Material like the FSB Bombings that put Putin in power or the Google no 1 spot when you search for protecting yourself from UK Police with "how to give a no comment interview". If you see any adverts that interest you then please visit them as it helps me without you even needing to give me any money. A few clicks per visit is all it takes to help keep the servers running and tag any tweets with alternative news from the mainstream with the #altnews hashtag I created to keep it alive!

However if you don't want to use the very obvious and cost free ways (to you) to help the site and keep me writing for it then please consider making a small donation. Especially if you have a few quid sitting in your PayPal account doing nothing useful. Why not do a monthly subscription for less money instead. Will you really notice £5 a month?

0 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.