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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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Seed-Time and Harvest-Time

Seed-Time and Harvest-Time

Natural Law and Rational Hopefulness in Frederick Douglass’s Life and Times

(p.285) 9 Seed-Time and Harvest-Time
A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass

Peter C. Myers

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter looks at Frederick Douglass’s thoughts on natural law, which returned to a closer conformity with teachings predominant in the tradition of classical liberal political philosophy. It examines Douglass’s third autobiography, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, to accomplish this task. Douglass’s thoughts on the operation of natural law yielded a realistic conclusion that great wrongs are in the nature of the powerful. It concludes that Douglass thought tyranny had its own costs under natural law: that tyranny breeds arrogance and insecurity among tyrants, which naturally provokes resistance for their subjects, and that this resistance over time tends to destabilize the regimes that perpetrate it. Douglass posits that when resistance is guided by prudent leadership that combines the appeal of moral principal, patriotism, and practical interest, it is bound to produce durable reforms.

Keywords:   Frederick Douglass, natural law, law tyranny, tyrant, resistance, reform, rationality, hopefulness, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass

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