• 68°

Douglass: America ‘an example to the world’

The year was 1852, and the Fourth of July speaker was Frederick Douglass. The subject then, with civil war just over the horizon, was one of leadership and character, particularly devotion to a cause greater than oneself.

Douglass made his oration in Rochester, New York. … The great abolitionist was clear in stating that July 4 did not mean the same things to him and other African-Americans as it did to most of his audience. Yet he addressed the crowd as “fellow citizens,” and though he spoke of “your” holiday, he alluded to a common set of beliefs and to the hope for a future in which all Americans, enslaved and free, would realize the promise of July 4, 1776, if only they paid heed to what was actually declared on that day.

“Fellow citizens,” he said, “I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. …They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory.

“They loved their country better than their own private interests … Your fathers staked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor on the cause of their country. In their admiration of liberty, they lost sight of all other interests. … They seized upon eternal principles, and set a glorious example in their defense. …

“Your fathers, the fathers of this republic, did, most deliberately, under the inspiration of a glorious patriotism, and with a sublime faith in the great principles of justice and freedom, lay deep, the corner-stone of the national super-structure, which has risen and still rises in grandeur around you.”

This from a man who had been whipped and otherwise abused in America before escaping slavery and becoming the nation’s most eloquent voice against that cruel institution.

Most of the remainder of his speech consisted of an exhortation to comprehend the evils of slavery … but there was in it an element of optimism, a faith in the power of republican ideals to someday overcome the evil practices of the day and unite people in a way that no bonds of race, religion or ethnic affinity could do — and to create a nation that would stand as an example to the world.

— The Washington Post

Comments

News

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

Crime

Blotter: Sept. 19

Coronavirus

Kannapolis brewery linked to eight COVID-19 positives

Elections

Local Democrats call to ‘turn the state blue’ during virtual office reopening

Education

Funding flat, enrollment down slightly for Rowan-Salisbury Schools

Education

Catawba gets high marks in U.S. News and World rankings for fifth year

Business

China Grove soap store sets sights on expansion into Kannapolis

News

Charlotte, UNC game canceled after 49ers place players in quarantine

Crime

Blotter: Sept. 18

Coronavirus

County sees ninth COVID-19 death this week, more than 30 cases reported

BREAKING NEWS

Gov. Cooper announces schools can move K-5 to plan A; school board vote needed locally

Local

Wet weather brings crashes, traffic to standstill on interstate

Crime

Salisbury man victim of Facebook scam, duped out of $2,000

Crime

Two charged after fight outside Salisbury home

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools ships out thousands of old devices for refurbishing

Education

Caught in the infodemic: NC school policies frustrated by scientific challenges

East Spencer

East Spencer to hold community day, provide free food, supplies

Education

Shoutouts

Landis

Landis officials provide plan for COVID-19 funds, discuss town’s financial position

Education

Blattner brought technology into schools before it was cool

Education

State has slight decline in SAT scores

Local

New environmental specialists begin work on backlog soil evaluations

Local

Friends, colleagues say Seay left his mark on Rowan judicial system

Elections

Rep. Howard says ‘still work to be done’ as she seeks 17th term in House