Frederick Douglass Prophet of freedom

David W. Blight

Book - 2018

"The definitive, dramatic biography of the most important African-American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era. As a young man Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. He wrote th...ree versions of his autobiography over the course of his lifetime and published his own newspaper. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery. Initially mentored by William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass spoke widely, often to large crowds, using his own story to condemn slavery. He broke with Garrison to become a political abolitionist, a Republican, and eventually a Lincoln supporter. By the Civil War and during Reconstruction, Douglass became the most famed and widely traveled orator in the nation. He denounced the premature end of Reconstruction and the emerging Jim Crow era. In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the United States as well as a radical patriot. He sometimes argued politically with younger African-Americans, but he never forsook either the Republican party or the cause of black civil and political rights. In this remarkable biography, David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historian have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass's newspapers. Blight tells the fascinating story of Douglass's two marriages and his complex extended family. Douglass was not only an astonishing man of words, but a thinker steeped in Biblical story and theology. There has not been a major biography of Douglass in a quarter century. David Blight's Frederick Douglass affords this important American the distinguished biography he deserves"--

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Subjects
Genres
Biographies
Published
New York : Simon & Schuster 2018.
Language
English
Physical Description
xx, 888 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9781416590316
1416590315
Main Author
David W. Blight (author)
  • First things
  • A childhood of extremes
  • The silver trump of knowledge
  • Baltimore dreams
  • Now for mischief!
  • Living a new life
  • This Douglass!
  • Garrisonian in mind and body
  • The thought of writing for a book!
  • Send back the money!
  • Demagogue in black
  • My faithful friend Julia
  • By the rivers of Babylon
  • My voice, my pen, or my vote
  • John Brown could die for the slave
  • Secession: taught by events
  • The kindling spirit of his battle cry
  • The anthem of the redeemed
  • Men of color to arms!
  • Abolition war, abolition peace
  • Sacred efforts
  • Othello's occupation was gone
  • All the leeches that feed on you
  • Ventures
  • What will peace among the whites bring?
  • An important and lucrative office
  • Joys and sorrows at Cedar Hill
  • Watchman, what of the night?
  • Born traveler
  • Haiti: servant between two masters
  • If American conscience were only half-alive
  • Epilogue: Then Douglass passed.
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Any biography of Douglass must compete with his own passionate memoirs, which vividly illustrate the anguish of slavery and testify to the humanity and intelligence of African Americans. Yet, as prizewinning historian Blight (American Oracle, 2011) demonstrates in this brilliant and compassionate work, Douglass could never escape the ingrained racism tainting even abolitionist circles. When he disagreed with "Liberator" William Lloyd Garrison's policy of combating slavery with "suasion," as opposed to outright political activism, Garrison suggested that slaves lacked the sophistication to understand the philosophy of the antislavery cause. A pained Douglass replied, "Who will doubt hereafter the natural inferiority of the Negro, when the great champion of the Negroes' rights thus broadly concedes all that is claimed respecting the Negroes' inferiority?" In Douglass' resistance to the paternalism of white abolitionists, we hear premonitions of Martin Luther King's denunciation of mealymouthed white gradualism. Douglass' support for violent resistance against slave catchers and slave owners prefigures the King versus Malcolm X polarization of the 1960s as well as contemporary debates over radicalism and the Black Lives Matter movement. Blight's Douglass is an unapologetic prophet and radical, and the eloquent voice of this "sacred extremist" has never been more relevant. A must-read. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Winner of the Bancroft Prize, the Abraham Lincoln Prize, and the Frederick Douglass Prize, among others, Yale historian Blight has been studying Frederick Douglass for most of his life. With a seven-city tour. Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Blight (Class of 1954 Professor of American History and Director, Gilder Lehrman Ctr., Yale Univ.; Race and Reunion) has produced a comprehensive chronicle of Frederick Douglass (1818–95), abolitionist, orator, writer, and diplomat, using an exhaustive survey of existing research, including newspaper articles and family letters. Offering original insights into a man born on a plantation into the slave society of Maryland's Eastern Shore, the author presents Douglass as the oratorical and written voice of a generation who carried the fury and faith of African Americans to three continents throughout his varied public life. Blight also shares how Douglass went on to counsel U.S. presidents such as Ulysses S. Grant. VERDICT This magnum opus surpasses previous singular biographies in heft and depth, establishing an essential text for students and educators seeking to understand Douglass's complex and expansive narrative. It will appeal to general audiences and specialists alike.—John Muller, Dist. of Columbia P.L. Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Yale historian Blight's study of runaway slave-turned-abolitionist Frederick Douglass—a "radical patriot" and "prophet of freedom," a "great voice of America's terrible transformation from slavery to freedom"—benefits not only from Blight's decadeslong immersion in the history of American slavery and abolitionism, but also from his access to privately owned sources unavailable to previous scholars. To Blight, Douglass's character and ideology were rife with paradox, and in this huge and meticulously detailed study he unpacks apparent contradictions: Douglass's unexpected happiness as an urban slave in Baltimore; his devotion to his wife, Anna, and their children, whom he rarely saw due to his constant travels as an abolitionist orator; his love for the promise he saw in America and hatred of how slavery had degraded it; his repeated revisions of his autobiographical writings as he reinterpreted his experiences; his second marriage to a white woman, an act both socially transgressive and opposed by his children. The Douglass who emerges from this massive work is not always heroic, or even likable, but Blight illuminates his personal struggles and achievements to emphasize what an extraordinary person he was. Though one might wonder, given Douglass's extensive writings and the numerous works of scholarship discussing him, about the need for yet another biography, it turns out that there was much more to be learned about him. (Oct.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Chronicles the life of the escaped slave who became one of the greatest orators of his day and a leading abolitionist and writer.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"The definitive, dramatic biography of the most important African-American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era. As a youngman Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. He wrote three versions of his autobiography over the course of his lifetime and published his own newspaper. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery. Initially mentored by William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass spoke widely, often to large crowds, using his own story to condemn slavery. He broke with Garrison to become a political abolitionist, a Republican, and eventually a Lincoln supporter. By the Civil War and during Reconstruction, Douglassbecame the most famed and widely travelled orator in the nation. He denounced the premature end of Reconstruction and the emerging Jim Crow era. In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the United States as well as a radical patriot. He sometimes argued politically with younger African-Americans, but he never forsook either the Republican party or the cause of black civil and political rights. In this remarkable biography, David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historian have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass's newspapers. Blight tells the fascinating story of Douglass's two marriages and his complex extended family. Douglass was not only an astonishing man of words, but a thinker steeped in Biblical story and theology. There has not been a major biography of Douglass in a quarter century. David Blight's Frederick Douglass affords this important American the distinguished biography he deserves"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"An acclaimed historian's definitive biography of the most important African-American figure of the 19th century, Frederick Douglass, who was to his century what Martin Luther King, Jr. was to the 20th century"--

Review by Publisher Summary 4

"The author of ""Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory"" chronicles the life of the escaped slave who became one of the greatest orators of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era."

Review by Publisher Summary 5

**Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History**'Extraordinary'a great American biography' (The New Yorker) of the most important African-American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era.As a young man Frederick Douglass (1818'1895) escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery.Initially mentored by William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass spoke widely, using his own story to condemn slavery. By the Civil War, Douglass had become the most famed and widely travelled orator in the nation. In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the United States as well as a radical patriot. After the war he sometimes argued politically with younger African Americans, but he never forsook either the Republican party or the cause of black civil and political rights.In this 'cinematic and deeply engaging' (The New York Times Book Review) biography, David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historian have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass's newspapers. "Absorbing and even moving'a brilliant book that speaks to our own time as well as Douglass's' (The Wall Street Journal), Blight's biography tells the fascinating story of Douglass's two marriages and his complex extended family. "David Blight has written the definitive biography of Frederick Douglass'a powerful portrait of one of the most important American voices of the nineteenth century' (The Boston Globe).In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Frederick Douglass won the Bancroft, Parkman, Los Angeles Times (biography), Lincoln, Plutarch, and Christopher awards and was named one of the Best Books of 2018 by The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Time.

Review by Publisher Summary 6

**Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History**“Extraordinary…a great American biography” (The New Yorker) of the most important African-American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era.As a young man Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery.Initially mentored by William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass spoke widely, using his own story to condemn slavery. By the Civil War, Douglass had become the most famed and widely travelled orator in the nation. In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the United States as well as a radical patriot. After the war he sometimes argued politically with younger African Americans, but he never forsook either the Republican party or the cause of black civil and political rights.In this “cinematic and deeply engaging” (The New York Times Book Review) biography, David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historian have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass’s newspapers. “Absorbing and even moving…a brilliant book that speaks to our own time as well as Douglass’s” (The Wall Street Journal), Blight’s biography tells the fascinating story of Douglass’s two marriages and his complex extended family. “David Blight has written the definitive biography of Frederick Douglass…a powerful portrait of one of the most important American voices of the nineteenth century” (The Boston Globe).In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Frederick Douglass won the Bancroft, Parkman, Los Angeles Times (biography), Lincoln, Plutarch, and Christopher awards and was named one of the Best Books of 2018 by The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Time.