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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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“A Blending of Opposite Qualities”

“A Blending of Opposite Qualities”

Frederick Douglass and the Demands of Democratic Citizenship

(p.409) 14 “A Blending of Opposite Qualities”
A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass
Nick Bromell
University Press of Kentucky

This chapter focuses on the blending of Frederick Douglass’s seemingly dissimilar perspectives. It starts off with a personal anecdote about how Douglass watched a speech against the Irish Force Bill in England’s Parliament and noted how the speaker, William Gladstone, used a mixture of persuasive language and menacingly accusatory language. Douglass showed a similar duality in his perspectives as a slave and then a free man. The chapter looks closely at the many microrevisions Douglass made to the same topics and experiences in his various autobiographies to show his struggle with finding the terminology to express his blended view. His revisions indicate how Douglass increasingly paid attention to philosophical analysis as time went on and reveal a man trying to express his political thought with terminology that had not yet been created because prior thinkers did not have the experience of being a slave. The chapter ultimately addresses Douglass’s understanding of democratic citizenship.

Keywords:   Frederick Douglass, experience, political thought, slaves, slavery, terminology, language, philosophy, democratic, citizenship

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