The Speeches of Frederick Douglass: A Critical Edition

The Speeches of Frederick Douglass: A Critical Edition


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A collection of twenty of Frederick Douglass’s most important orations

This volume brings together twenty of Frederick Douglass’s most historically significant speeches on a range of issues, including slavery, abolitionism, civil rights, sectionalism, temperance, women’s rights, economic development, and immigration. Douglass’s oratory is accompanied by speeches that influenced him, his reflections on successful rhetorical strategies, contemporary commentary on his performances, and modern-day assessments of his rhetorical legacy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300192179
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 10/23/2018
Edition description: Critical
Pages: 688
Sales rank: 764,409
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

John R. McKivigan is Mary O’Brien Gibson Professor of United States History at Indiana University–Purdue University at Indianapolis. He is the general editor of Yale’s Frederick Douglass Papers series. Julie Husband is Professor of Language and Literatures at Northern Iowa University. Heather L. Kaufman is Research Associate with the Frederick Douglass Papers.


Tuckahoe, Maryland

Date of Birth:


Date of Death:

February 20, 1895

Place of Death:

Washington, D.C.

Table of Contents

Illustrations x

Preface xv

Introduction: Frederick Douglass's Oratory and Political Leadership xix

Part 1 Selected Speeches by Frederick Douglass

"I Have Come to Tell You Something about Slavery" (1841) 3

"Temperance and Anti-Slavery" (1846) 9

"American Slavery, American Religion, and the Free Church of Scotland" (1846) 17

"What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" (1852) 55

"A Nation in the Midst of a Nation" (1853) 93

"The Claims of the Negro Ethnologically Considered" (1854) 116

"The American Constitution and the Slave" (1860) 151

"The Mission of the War" (1864) 186

"Sources of Danger to the Republic" (1867) 217

"Let file Negro Alone" (1869) 247

"We Welcome the Fifteenth Amendment" (1869) 267

"Our Composite Nationality" (1869) 278

"Which Greeley Are We Voting For?" (1872) 304

"Recollections of the Anti-Slavery Conflict" (1873) 318

"The Freedmen's Monument to Abraham Lincoln" (1876) 337

"This Decision Has Humbled the Nation" (1883) 356

"'It Moves,' or the Philosophy of Reform" (1883) 374

"I Am a Radical Woman Suffrage Man" (1888) 401

"Self-Made Men" (1893) 414

"Lessons of the Hour" (1894) 454

Part 2 Known Influences On Frederick Douglass's Oratory

Caleb Bingham, from The Columbian Orator (1817) 501

Henry Highland Garnet, from "An Address to the Slaves of the United States of America" (1843) 505

Samuel Ringgold Ward, "Speech Denouncing Daniel Webster's Endorsement of the Fugitive Slave Law" (1850) 508

Wendell Phillips, from "Toussaint L'Ouverture" (1863) 513

Part 3 Frederick Douglass on Public Speaking

Frederick Douglass, "Give Us the Facts," from My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) 519

Frederick Douglass, "One Hundred Conventions" (1843), from Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881; 1892) 523

Frederick Douglass, "Letter from the Editor" (1849), from the Rochester North Star 526

Frederick Douglass, "A New Vocation before Me" (1870), from Life and Times 528

Frederick Douglass, "People Want to Be Amused as Well as Instructed" (1871), Letter to James Redpath 533

Frederick Douglass, "Great Is the Miracle of Human Speech" (1891), from the Washington (D.C.) Evening Star 535

Part 4 Contemporary Commentary on Frederick Douglass as an Orator

Nathaniel Peabody Rogers, from "Rhode Island Anti-Slavery Meeting" (1841) 539

William J. Wilson, "A Leaf from My Scrap Book: Samuel R. Ward and Frederick Douglass" (1849) 541

Thurlow G. Weed, from "A Colored Man's Eloquence" (1853) 547

William Wells Brown, from The Rising Son (1874) 549

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, "An 1895 Public Letter from Elizabeth Cady Stanton on the Occasion of Frederick Douglass's Death," from In Memoriam: Frederick Douglass, ed. Helen Douglass (1897) 552

Thomas Wentworth Higginson, from American Orators and Oratory (1901) 555

Part 5 Modern Scholarly Criticism of Frederick Douglass as an Orator

Gregory P. Lampe, from Frederick Douglass: Freedom's Voice, 1818-1845 559

Ivy G. Wilson, from Specters of Democracy: Blackness and the Aesthetics of Politics in the Antebellum U.S. 566

Richard W. Leeman, from "Fighting for Freedom Again: African American Reform Rhetoric in the Late Nineteenth Century" 571

David Howard-Pitney from The Afro-American Jeremiad: Appeals for Justice in America 579

Granville Ganter, from "Tie Made Us Laugh Some': Frederick Douglass's Humor" 584

Chronology of Other Important Speeches and Events in Frederick Douglass's Life 593

Selected Bibliography 605

Credits 611

Index 613

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