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What Frederick Douglass Teaches Us About American Exceptionalism

What Frederick Douglass Teaches Us About American Exceptionalism and The Growth of Freedom

Nick Gillespie | July 4, 2012

I don't think there's a greater Fourth of July speech than Frederick Douglass' 1852 address, "What to the slave is the Fourth of July?"

The titular passage is the most-searing indictment of precisely the sort of cheap and easy American exceptionalism that continues to clot political rhetoric with the phoniest sort of patriotism:

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelly to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. 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.

Continued:
http://reason.com/archives/2012/07/04/what-frederick-douglas...