Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Frederick Douglass

Peter C. Myers’ new book on Frederick Douglass landed on my desk just as I was leaving for Florida on Thursday (I just got back), so I was able to read some it on the trip (it encouraged me for I had to speak on Lincoln at The Villages on Friday, about 250 folks showed up, by the way; I enjoyed it very much, hope they did). The Myers book is probably the most serious study of Douglass’ mind ever written, in my opinion. Is it too much to hope that Mrs. Obama (or the Senator) might read it? (Or Toni Morrison, for that matter, who said in 1986, "At no moment of my life have I ever felt as though I were an American.") Well, this might be a good time to remind ourselves that Frederick Douglass--under much more difficult conditions than are experienced today--was not alienated from our ancient faith. Or--to put it more simply--in seeing the difference between the good principles and the bad practice, he reminded folks, especially white folks, of both their hypocrisy and the soul of their country. Douglass speaking on the Fourth of July, 1862: "No people ever entered upon the pathway of nations, with higher and grander ideas of justice, liberty and humanity than ourselves." Douglass knew that Americans were not living up to their purposes, so he made it his life’s work to both change the practice (agitate, first against slavery then against segregation) and always to instruct his fellow citizens on the first principles of government. And so he instructs us today, and that teaching is revivified by Professor Myers. Good for us.

Discussions - 3 Comments

Please do share any tid-bits as you find them, Peter. To read any Douglass piece is to come away thinking, "there's a lot more there." I'm particularly interested in how his thinking about the Constitution developed in the years after the Civil War.

I echo Carl's request, Peter. See if the CRB people can get Diana Schaub to review it!

Are there any bad books in that UKansas series? I've read several now, and they are very, very good (though sometimes very slow Political Scientist writing to plod through - very thought-provoking).

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