Frederick Douglass: “Fourth of July” Speech

(1852)

Impact

Douglass's “Fourth of July” Speech made an immediate impact on the northern American reading public. It was published in pamphlet form in the weeks following the address and read by hundreds who had not attended the Rochester event. The speech endures as one of the most articulate expressions of what it means to be excluded from the republican experiment that resulted in the democracy of the United States. Yet beyond a condemnation of slavery, the speech endures because Douglass adopted a hopeful tone, believing that the United States would be more complete once slavery ended. Today scholars and students of American history still widely read Douglass's “Fourth of July” Speech.

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Frederick Douglass (Library of Congress)

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