Frederick Douglass is One of the Greatest Americans to Ever Live and is THE Problem for Anti-Americanism
The 1776 Report is an excellent document because it is a defense of America. It is a defense of America and American ideals at the precise time when the country needs it the most. When a larger percentage of the voting public believes in a-historical tepid horse manure like The 1619 Project compared to The 1776 Report, we are in trouble (and when a new administration memory holes the report, we really are in serious trouble). Americans need to be reminded of what made–and makes–this country so great.
But sometimes words, and even ideas, fall flat. Sometimes it is hard to believe in certain principles if you cannot put a face on them. For most of America’s history, that face was George Washington. It can and should always be. But there is one American–more than any other–whose mere existence proves the greatness of the American founding principles. That man is Frederick Douglass, and he is THE greatest problem for anti-Americanism.
Frederick Douglass is the greatest defender of America. No history of America and American principles can be adequately taught without spending ample time on this extraordinary human being. Like all great people, he had to overcome adversity. But his adversity was the same adversity America had to overcome; slavery.
It is the life and journey of Frederick Douglass that makes him the greatest defender of America and the biggest problem for anti-Americanism. Without the existence of somebody like Douglass, all the anti-Americanism would be correct. All the sins and foibles and claims of “America is evil,” would be correct. But… he existed… and his words exist… and he lives on today as the greatest defender of America’s founding principles.
Anti-Americanism Has No Answer for the Life and Philosophical Journey of Frederick Douglass
If Frederick Douglass was merely a slave who broke out of bondage to become one of the greatest defenders of the founding principles of America, those who hate America could overcome his example. But Douglass was much more than that and his philosophical journey was more than that.
This escaped slave–who almost exclusively taught himself how to read and write–was an ardent abolitionist (probably the least surprising fact in American history). He wrote, spoke, and railed against the institution of slavery and saw it as an institution of evil. Of course, he was right. But… because slavery existed in America, and the Constitution made slavery possible, Douglass hated the Constitution.
It is true. This man–who is the greatest defense against anti-Americanism–hated the founding document. That is why historically illiterate ignoramuses like Colin Kaepernick can seemingly pull quotations from Douglass to try and further their anti-Americanism
“What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? This Fourth of July is yours, not mine…There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.”
– Frederick Douglass pic.twitter.com/IWLujGCJHn
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) July 4, 2019
But, just like in that 1852 speech, Douglass eventually came around to understanding the greatness of the Declaration of Independence and the founding principles of America.
Why Frederick Douglass’ Philosophical Evolution on American Principles Matters
Douglass’ hatred and antagonistic stance towards the Declaration of Independence and the founding principles of America did not last long. It was in 1851 after a long “dialogue with New York abolitionist Gerrit Smith” that Douglass finally saw the founding document in the way that would rule the rest of his life. He no longer saw it as the pro-slavery document of his earlier years but, instead, as a cudgel to be “wielded in behalf of emancipation.”
Douglass’ journey took him from slavery to fugitive freedom, and from a staunch opponent of the founding principles of America to one of its most ardent defenders. His was not a simple journey. He saw that the perspective he spent years cultivating was not just wrong, but was in fact harming his cause. If he wanted the abolition of slavery and the freedom of all men everywhere, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights were the keys to unlocking that treasure chest of freedom.
The American Founding Documents are the Panaceas, Not the Poison
Yes, the sin of slavery was prevalent at the founding of the nation. But the American founding documents and their principles are the panaceas, not the poison. As Douglass learned more, this became abundantly clear to him. He recognized that all of his own anti-Americanism–however justified because he was born a slave–was wrong. He overcame his anti-Americanism. However, Douglass was even greater than merely trying to help his own cause and did not stop there; he understood the power of the founding documents for both black rights and the suffrage movement.
The life of Frederick Douglass is a testament to the greatness of America. Born in the most wretched of classes (a slave), Douglass escaped those bonds. With only a little help, he learned to read and write. He took positions that many today still echo (that America’s founding principles are a lie), but overcame his own anti-Americanism to realize all the answers for how to make America great are in the founding documents. The founding documents and American principles are not lies or sins. They are truths and redemption. And all you have to do to see it for yourself is look at the life and journey of one of the greatest Americans to ever live; Frederick Douglass.