Fred Douglass-He Gives Some Good Advice
February 1, 1868
Frederick Douglass reminds freedmen that they should not view the government as their saviors since the government only worked out of duty and policy, not genuine kindness. Douglass admits that for black citizens to be viewed as equal to white citizens they must first better themselves.
Fred. Douglass-He gives some Good Advice.-A correspondent of the Springfield Republican writing from Akron, Ohio, January 26, says : "Fred. Douglass delivered an address to the colored people of this place to-day, in which he gave them some rather unthankful and practical advice. He said they had no more reason to feel thankful to the Government for their freedom than had the Hebrews to feel thankful to Pharoah for their deliverance from bondage. The Government was driven to emancipate the negroes, and did it as a matter of policy, and not from any Christian motive of right and justice. That although it was possible that, naturally they were equal to the whites, they were not practically. They must rise through their own exertions to a much higher degree of intelligence before being allowed all the rights and privileges of the white race. He did not blame them for being in the condition in which they now were, as it was caused by the degrading influence of slavery. He should, however, censure them harshly if they suffered themselves to remain so without striving hard for improvement. That if fifteen years hence found them as they now were their destiny was sealed, as they were now on probation, and if they failed in that time to nobly acquit themselves, it would be almost impossible for them to make any advancement."
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“Fred Douglass-He Gives Some Good Advice,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed December 6, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/809.