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A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass$
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Neil Roberts

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813175621

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813175621.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM KENTUCKY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.kentucky.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The University Press of Kentucky, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in KSO for personal use.date: 29 June 2022

Douglass and Political Judgment

Douglass and Political Judgment

The Post-Reconstruction Years

(p.203) 6 Douglass and Political Judgment
A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass

Jack Turner

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter analyzes Frederick Douglass’s post-Reconstruction thoughts, believing that they deserve greater emphasis and are interesting in how they sharply oppose the common strictly libertarian reading of his beliefs. Douglass’s thoughts model a form of political ideals that helps to identify forces of white supremacy that disguise themselves as fair or virtuous. Douglass examines political phenomena and Supreme Court cases in the aftermath of Reconstruction to determine whether the spirit of liberty or slavery animates them. The chapter discusses how Douglass was able to fight against disingenuous thoughts about the virtues of white supremacy—namely, the “Negro ignorance” argument. Using the backdrop of antirepublican politics, Douglass helps his audience see the corrupt nature of this argument and quells Northern whites who had been fooled by Southern hysterics about “Negro supremacy.” The chapter distinguishes itself in its elucidation of Douglass’s conception of political judgment and the implications of this view for interpreting contemporary Supreme Court decisions.

Keywords:   Frederick Douglass, post-Reconstruction, libertarian, conservative, politics, political judgment, Supreme Court, civil rights

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