Congress honors Frederick Douglass, 19th century orator, statesman and abolitionist


To honor Frederick Douglass, President Obama recently signed into law a bill allowing the District of Columbia its first statue in the United States Capitol’s Emancipation Hall. The hall itself was named in 2007 in honor of the slaves who helped build the Capitol.

The fight to end slavery in America could not have found a more eloquent and vocal ally than Frederick Douglass, orator, statesman and abolitionist. In 1852, the leading citizens of Rochester, New York, where Douglass lived and published the abolitionist paper, The North Star, asked him to give a speech as part of their 4th of July celebrations. Douglass delivered a scathing attack on the institution of American slavery.

“What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer. It is a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty 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 shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mock; 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 of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.”

For college students studying the abolitionist movement leading up to the Civil War, Questia, the premier online research and digital library tool for students, is able to offer its scholarly users:

  • More than 2,700 books on the life and times of Frederick Douglass
  • More than 500 magazine articles and 600 newspaper articles that explore slavery and civil rights
  • 400 academic journal articles profiling African American activists and the writings of Douglass

Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton said in a statement, “This placement will be a fitting tribute to one of the nation’s most important human rights heroes.”  180 statues and busts are featured in the U.S. Capitol, but only two depict African Americans: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sojourner Truth.

Douglass worked tirelessly to end slavery in the United States and President Abraham Lincoln reportedly told the abolitionist leader on one occasion, “Douglass, I hate slavery as much as you do, and I want to see it abolished altogether.”   During the reconstruction era, Douglass was appointed to several political positions, including chargé d’affaires for the Dominican Republic. Douglass was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant to serve on the District of Columbia’s Legislative Council in 1872. He died suddenly in 1895 in Washington D.C.

Douglass’ best-known written work is his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, published in 1845. The book became a bestseller  was reprinted nine times, and later translated into French and Dutch and also published in Europe.

During his remarkable life, Douglass went on to champion not just the abolition of slavery, but women’s rights, Irish independence, and equal pay.

If not already a member, you can try Questia free for one day and conduct research into the history of the abolitionist movement and the American Civil War.

For example, on abolitionists, you’ll find a detailed list of scholarly publications including:

  • 4,612 books
  • 415 academic journal articles
  • 403 magazine articles
  • 575 newspaper articles
  • 32 encyclopedia articles

On slavery in America, you’ll find:

  • 11,788 books
  • 1,654 academic journal articles
  • 2,354 magazine articles
  • 3,206 newspaper articles
  • 32 encyclopedia articles

On the Emancipation Proclamation, you’ll find:

  • 2,802 books
  • 154 academic journal articles
  • 270 magazine articles
  • 491 newspaper articles
  • 11 encyclopedia articles

And on the American Civil War, you’ll find:

  • 25,979 books
  • 6,020 academic journal articles
  • 10,075 magazine articles
  • 21,904 newspaper articles
  • 590 encyclopedia articles

Below are just some of our many popular books and articles on Frederick Douglass, abolitionism and slavery that you’ll find on Questia:

Understanding Frederick Douglass: Toward a New Synthesis Approach to the Birth of Modern American Journalism
By Mindich, David T. Z.

Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and John Edward Bruce: The Relationship of a Militant Black Journalist with the “Father of Civil Rights,” and the “Wizard of Tuskegee.”
By L, Ralph

“The Republic of Letters”: Frederick Douglas, Ireland, and the Irish Narratives
By Sweeney, Fionnghuala

Final Freedom: The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment
By Michael Vorenberg

The Great Silent Army of Abolitionism: Ordinary Women in the Antislavery Movement
By Julie Roy Jeffrey

Lay My Burden Down: A Folk History of Slavery
By B. A. Botkin

For further scholarly research, try searching for Frederick Douglass, abolitionism, slavery and other related topics on Questia.

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