Michael Wilkerson: Slavery Defined Who We Would Become as a Nation


Our two in my conversation with my friend Michael wilkerson, the book, really an amazing book. It's called why America matters. Okay, so Michael, we left off talking about the issue of slavery. And you write really extensively about that battle in our history, because a lot of times we get the short version of it. To me, this was the foundational challenge. This was the question that was going to define who would we become as a nation. Slavery was an aberration. It was inimical to the ideals articulated in the declaration in the constitution. And yet we allowed it to live. There was a belief that, oh, it'll just go away on its own. Later in following the signing of the declaration, a lot of the signatories and others really begin to rally around resistance to the idea of slavery. But we were in conflict because half of the nation in the south were very much wedded to it from their economic and cultural social life. John Quincy Adams, after he left The White House for the next three decades in the House of Representatives, haranguing about the issue of slavery, Benjamin Franklin, in his last decade, really devoted himself to abolitionist causes. The rise of the abolitionist movements in the 1830s through 50 60s really were a catalyst to begin to awaken public consciousness at a broader level to the evil that was the institution of slavery. The most fascinating person that I found in this whole period of history was Frederick Douglass. Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave who, in his youth, had taught himself to read, taught him itself, got all kinds of books whenever he could. Eventually escape to the north. And long story short became a leading abolitionist, a leading voice, a friend of president Lincoln. And in my view was the most prophetic voice speaking to the conscious of America saying, this thing is evil and it has to be destroyed. And

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