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As Frederick Douglass approached the bed of Thomas Auld, tears came to his eyes.


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In the face of derision and public humiliation, Carlyle stuck to his beliefs, republishing the piece with an even more overtly racist message as a pamphlet in As a result, he needed to have a clear conception of what godliness did and did not look like.

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Douglass built his conception of virtue on a long tradition of a not-quite-universal universalism. Further Reading: David W. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Representative Men. Alexander Pope, Essay on Man an enlightenment poem that Douglass often quotes on virtue. JHI Newsletter and Store. Academy and Democracy. The philosopher even supported the rights of animals to be treated well, admonishing farmers not to beat their work animals. They could not speak out against, or even question, the violence and domination that was central to the system.

Black Intellectual History. Douglass was, and remains, far from alone in not being able to accept that other systems of virtue could be equally valid, nor that other gods could be equally divine. Loading Comments Required Name Required Website. By enslaving another person, slaveholders had to violently strip them of a central tenant of their humanity, and had to support their dehumanization with systematic, normalized violence.

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Image courtesy of the National Park Service. Hans Blumenberg and Political Myth. Frederick Douglass fought for an America beyond slavery. Write for Us. Online Fora. For the last thirty years of his life, between the legal demise of chattel slavery in and his death inDouglass gave hundreds, if not thousands, of speeches, published countless articles, and two books, offering an alternate vision for how humans could conceive of difference between one another.

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He completed his B. As a writer that first paragraph pretty much sums it all up for me. Slaveholders had to present a united front. Media of History.

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In the vision of the world that Douglass offered his listeners, the highest ideal of a person was one who was like God. The world would teem with abundance, and the temptation to evil in a thousand directions, would disappear. However, in an era marked by the rise of Lynch Law, across the U. American South, restrictions on voter rights, and a turn away from African American rights across the nation, Frederick Douglass travelled widely, and used his podium to argue that any person, notwithstanding physical attributes, class, or caste, could attain virtue.

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Pathways in Intellectual History. Become a Contributing Editor. Support JHI Scholarship. Douglass rhetorically supported the rights of Christians in the Ottoman Empire, Jewish people in Europe, and stood behind oppressed Chinese laborers in California. Someone is great because they greatly impacted the world.

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Throughout the last thirty years of his life, Douglass fought against all outgrowths of a philosophy built upon prejudice and discrimination. People still placed themselves in relation to each other based on characteristics about which they had no power. Collective Memory.

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It fit into a tradition of radical humanist and liberal thought going at least far back as the reformation. Leave a Reply Cancel reply. By opening up virtue to some, he had closed it off to others. However, the American promise of Emancipation dissipated.

He fought against sharecropping.

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Lynch law dominated the whole nation, as it begun amassing overseas territories.