Day Speech (excerpt)
Frederick Douglass -
"Fellow citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?...
...Fellow citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! Whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, today, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorry this day, "may my right hand cleave to the roof of my mouth"! To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow citizens, is American slavery...Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the Constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery----the great sin and shame of America! "I will not equivocate, I will not excuse"; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, shall not confess to be right and just...
...What, to the American slave, is your
Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days
in 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 denunciation of tyrants, brass - fronted impudence;
your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; 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 savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices
more shocking and bloody than are the people of the
Go where you
may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of
the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when
you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices
of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and
shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival."