Frederick Douglass On Free Speech And Liberty

Feb 3, 2021

“No right was deemed by the fathers of the Government more sacred than the right of speech. It was in their eyes, as in the eyes of all thoughtful men, the great moral renovator of society and government. Daniel Webster called it a homebred right, a fireside privilege. Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down. They know its power. Thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, founded in injustice and wrong, are sure to tremble, if men are allowed to reason of righteousness, temperance, and of a judgment to come in their presence. Slavery cannot tolerate free speech. Five years of its exercise would banish the auction block and break every chain in the South. They will have none of it there, for they have the power. But shall it be so here? ” (Frederick Douglass 1860)

Spoken in Boston, Massachusetts (The North) in 1860 in the midst of Abolition. It is as true today in the midst of cancel culture and identity politics.

Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895) was an escaped slave who became a prominent activist, author, public speaker, and great American. He was a leader in the abolitionist movement, which sought to end the practice of slavery before and during the Civil War. After the war and the Emancipation Proclamation of 1862, he continued to push for equality and human rights until his death in 1895.

Douglass was a “self-made man” (in the sense of rising despite adversity). A man of exceptional intellect and wisdom, he came to be a Constitutionalist, and believed in personal responsibility and the appropriate role of limited government.

There is no doubt that, were he alive today, Frederick Douglass would be canceled.

From the #imjustsaying series.


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