Frederick Douglass' Dream for Freedom

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The Civil War was really a war between European-Americans

Frederick Douglass' Dream for Equality

Abolition stopped Frederick Douglass dead in his tracks and forced him to reinvent himself. He learned the hard central truth about abolition. Once he learned what that truth was, he was compelled to tell it in his speeches and writings even if it meant giving away the most secret truth about himself. From then on, he accepted abolition for what it was and rode the fates.

The truth he learned about abolition was that it was a white enterprise. It was a fight between whites. Blacks joined abolition only on sufferance. They also joined at their own risks. For a long time, Douglass, a man of pride and artfulness, denied this fact.

For years there had been disagreements among many abolitionists. Everyone had their own beliefs towards abolition. There was especially great bitterness between Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison, dating from the early 1850's when Douglass had repudiated Garrisonian Disunionism.

Garrisonians supported the idea of disunion. Disunion would have relieved the North of responsibility for the sin of slavery. It would have also ended the North's obligation to enforce the fugitive slave law, and encourage a greater exodus of fugitive slaves from the South. (161,162 Perry) Douglass did not support this idea because it would not result in the complete abolition of slavery. Blacks deserved just as much freedom as whites. He believed that the South had committed treason, and the Union must rebel by force if necessary. Astonished by Garrison's thoughts, Douglass realized that abolition was truly a war between whites. Garrison, and many others, had failed to see the slaves as human beings.

Were blacks then supposed to be irretrievably black in a white world ? Where is the freedom and hope if...