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The. A radio news. I'm Rita fall. Lay? Breaking news, a US military officials says the process of withdrawing troops from Syria has begun. The US led military coalition is not providing any details yet. The US has about two thousand troops in Syria today is Friday payday but not for eight hundred thousand federal government workers caught in the crossfire as President Trump and congress battle over a border wall. The president's threatening to declare a national emergency and unilaterally move to build the wall. If there's no agreement but was not quite sold on doing it yesterday one hundred percent, but I don't want to say a hundred and later, probably I will I would almost say definitely GOP Senator Lindsey Graham says the president might as well act since congress cannot seem to or you're standing you're looking at each other. But bypassing hungry would be challenged legally and house speaker Nancy Pelosi says other Republic. Gins would object to executive overreach. I think he's going to have to answer to his own party. Saga megani? Washington. President Trump says he's now worried about his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen testifying before house committee next month. Cohen arranged hush money payments intended to keep allegations of sexual affairs out of the news during the presidential campaign. A Wisconsin girl missing for three months has been found alive or teen year old Jimmy clause has been missing since October fifteenth day her parents were both shot the death at their home outside the small town of Barron. Wisconsin the Barron county sheriff's department posting on its Facebook page that she was found alive. Thursday in Douglas county, some seventy miles to the north and Barron sheriff Chris FitzGerald says Douglas county, deputies apprehended a suspect shortly after Jamie was found I'm Tim Maguire China has just broadcast pictures taken by its Rover and Lander on the far side of the moon. This is AP radio news. Fiat Chrysler is the. Latest automaker to announce a big air bag recall more than one point six million, jeeps, dodgers and Chryslers as well as ram and dodge pick-ups are covered by this recall. It's the same story as previous recalls to Cada front passenger airbag inflators can explode with too much force. If it happens shrapnel explodes into drivers and passengers at least twenty three people have died from the problem worldwide. The most dangerous inflators are in the areas of the south along the Gulf of Mexico that have high humidity. Ed Donahue, Washington a school board in the Virginia. Suburbs of Washington DC is renaming a school that had been named for confederate. General Robert E Lee Washington Lee high school will now become Washington. Liberty high school last month. A judge tossed a lawsuit that tried to block the school board from taking Robert Lee's name off of the high school. I'm Rita Foley. AP radio news. Hi, it's Jamie. Progressive's. Employee of the month two months in a row. Leave a message at the hi, Jamie. It's me, Jamie. I just had a new idea for our song about the name your price tool. So when it's like, tell us what you want to pay, hey trombone goes, Wah, and you say, we'll help you find Carbajal fit your budget. Then we just all do finger snaps while choir goes, savings coming at ya. Savings coming at ya. Yes. No. Maybe. Anyway, see you practice tonight. I got new lyrics for the rap break. Progressive casualty insurance company and affiliates. Pricing coverage match limited by state law. You with the rhinestone dot collar between us dogs. I just convinced my human of great to a new home with the twelve hundred square foot bathroom. I think she called it a yard with Wells Fargo's three percent down payment on a fixed rate loan. My human realized new home was within reach learn more at wellsfargo dot com slash Wells Fargo home mortgage down payments is three percent on a fixed rate loan require mortgage insurance has the home mortgage consultant about loan requirements. Wells Fargo home mortgages, the division of Wells Fargo Bank. Equal housing lender. MLS three nine nine hundred one.
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David W. Blight: Live at Politics
This is live at politics and prose a program from slate and politics and prose bookstore in Washington DC, featuring some of today's best writers and top thinkers, we're really a so delighted to have professor David blind with as evening you teaches American history Yale and his an award-winning authority on on slavery abolition legacy of of the civil war. He's also devoted much of his professional life to studying Frederick Douglass. In fact, David's first book, the first of half a dozen. He's authored was on. Douglas was published nearly thirty years ago and David hadn't planned after that to write a full biography of the runaway slave turn leading abolitionist writer an order, but then he met Walter Evans collector in Georgia who is a masked much Douglas material you Evans collection of four to David many new insights, especially into the final third of Douglas's remarkable life and eventually David. Nearly a decade to research and write the new biography. Frederick Douglass prophet of freedom. It's hard, of course, to exaggerate how prominent Douglas became in the nineteenth, century and important. He's remained in the history of our country as David notes in the introduction to his book. Douglas was the most photographed American of the nineteenth century, and one of the most widely travelled Americans, then perhaps second only to Mark Twain. He also is among the most highly regarded orders and writers on America's racial condition as well as the the Uman condition today Douglas gets embraced by many across a broad political political spectrum by Democrats and Republicans by liberals and conservatives that's testament, not just to his iconic stature, but to the complexity in brilliance of his own or Tori, and writings he he'll contradictory views of the United States country. He both loved and severely, criticized. In fact, so many of the racial and political tensions that characterized his own times in that remain unresolved today, we're reflected in Douglas's life. Douglas, did leave his own extensive accounting of his life. He wrote not just one, but three autobiographies you'd think the availability of so much memoir. Material would help a biographer, but it also can pose some challenges David takes the challenges and stride, recognizing the Douglas's self image. As a self made hero left a great deal on said, David clearly admires Douglas. But he also is as well prepared as any historian today to examine critically all the paradoxes, the many sides and the turbulent life of his subject. David does so in impressive and engaging detail in his eliminating comprehensive volume lays gentlemen, please join me in welcoming David blight. Thank you bread. And thank you all for coming. There's you hear this every week here. There is no other bookstore. Like this. That I know of anywhere and I've been to a few lately. The two greatest audiences one can have a bookstore audience, especially politics, and prose and public library audiences. I had the chance just two or three weeks ago to go to my hometown of Flint Michigan. There's not a lot still standing and Flint, but the public libraries still open and by God we had an event at the public library building. I grew up in now Bradley already mentioned, Walter Evans and the collection in savannah, which has everything to do with. Why wrote this book? So I may just spare you that for the moment. Although it truly is the reason I did this book encountering by blind. Good luck, a private collection held in our own in Savannah, Georgia and having spent many spring breaks and many other weeks working on Walter Evans is dining room table. Able in that collection is the reason this book exist, and I dedicate the book to Walter n-, his wife, Linda, but I want to throw his right into a political moment for Douglas. And for the nation and its impart because I just I spent the afternoon in a hotel room hear writing an op-ed for the New York Times all about this offense. So why not try it out here? I don't know if the times run it or not probably not. But you never know. It's the winter of eighteen sixty six. Think think of the moment, it's not even ten months after APPA Matic's. Reconstruction is yet to be determined. Although the Republicans in congress, those of you know, your history the Republicans in congress of just begun to halt Andrew Johnson's attempts to control reconstruction Johnson being Lincoln's successor. The Republicans appointed a joint committee on reconstruction that winter in that committee was in the middle of meeting. Fifteen members assessing the entire situation with one hundred and forty four witnesses on the situation on the ground in the south. Conditions of the Friedman conditions of white people, the the situation of violence and terror the need for continued occupation troops the Freemen's bureau. What it would be how it would work. Everything was up for grabs. No, one knew the future from the president any more than you. And I do right now in a colossal national crisis. The war was over and the entire nation is in mourning for seven hundred and some thousand plus dead Americans. Those going to be some new possibly revision of the constitution that comes out of this war because you got four thousand freed slaves who have to become something like citizens or do they everything's up for grabs? In the midst of those hearings Douglas is in Washington he didn't live here yet. He's not gonna live here too late teens, seventy two although right at the end of the war. He was already trying to get to Washington. He was trying to get to the center he was trying to get somewhere near or inside Republican party politics. If he could. But he led a delegation of twelve other black leaders one cluding one of which was actually his oldest son Louis to the White House Dabbagh meeting with Andrew Johnson. Now, if you know your Andrew Johnson, you know, that he was not going to be terribly welcoming. They did not have an appointment. They didn't have an invitation. They just went and asked for an appointment and Johnston said, okay. But what is sued that day was probably the worst encounter between a group of black leaders in an American president ever in our history. It was a disaster. One might say. Douglas was the chief spokesman it sort of co-chair of this group was men in downing who was actually the head the head caterer or he ran the the mess kitchen for the US congress Richard T down anyway done this led the delegation, and he opened by telling the president that they were there to insist upon the right to vote for African Americans that they were there to insist upon in their words equality before law. Now, it's before that gets into section one of John John Bingham section one of the fourteenth amendment. But Douglas used the same phrase before ender Johnson. He said there were also there to talk about civil rights and citizenship. He respectfully addressed Johnson as your excellency. And a lot of other highfalutin words, but he didn't get to speak for very long. Andrew Johnson interrupted him. And for the next forty five minutes. President Andrew Johnson harangued this group of black leaders to their faces. It will a whole host of arguments, including he said, he was not going to stand there. And he said be arraigned by a man who could spin language and use rhetoric. So well. And it was just it was especially on happy about Douglas bringing up Johnson's distinguished predecessor. Presidents sometimes don't like to be reminded of their predecessors. And then Johnson said, you know. What's your asking for here is going to cause a race war? We give black people the right to vote is going to cause a race war of a race war. And therefore the only real solution to the situation. Here of emancipation is aftermath is colonisation which means removal of as many black Americans as possible outside of the United States. And then only got worse. And you've got to imagine Douglas and twelve other black men sitting listening to this and nothing had ever animated Frederick Douglass. Negatively animated him quite like being told colonization or removal from the United States or the denial of birthright for black Americans was the solution to their lives, but it did get worse because then Johnson said, but I want you to know the real victim, the truest victims of this war. Where the poor white southerners nine hundred Johnson came from the poor white class in the south as you may know, and he said the colored man and his master conspired against the poor white man and made him their slave use the word slave, and then he went onto say now, I want you to know he's speaking to the black leaders he said, I have owned slaves, and I have bought slaves, but I never sold one. I was supposed to be positive. And then Johnson said and in my experience, I have been more their slave than they mine. This one on for about forty forty five minutes. Douglas, would raise his hand tried to interject he did get in line at one point seven. But but but but but but but Mr President. Until the black man has the votes. Slavery is not dead. He didn't get that in. And then to the race war comment. He managed to get in line about how Mr President, Mr president your excellency. The thing you most fear can only be prevented by the thing. We most desire the vote civil rights protections. Then it ended in you know, this kind of Cerdan situation. Probably with some of the black men in the room murmuring to one another who knows what they remembering. I don't know what the remembering I've no evidence of that. But we do know is the one they were walking out us to nog refer and one of Johnson's aides overheard. The president say. Those quote damn sons a bitches thought they had me on a corner. And that damned n were Douglas. He's just like all the rest of those ewards, he'd repeat sooner cut a white man's throat than that. And Douglas said he overheard. That was their meeting with the president. Didn't go. Well. And Douglas, then did what he did so many times in his life. He went back to his desk in a hotel. And he started crafting a speech in crises whether the crisis was the fugitive slave act back in nearly eighteen fifties or. Many crises during the war many crisis in the late eighteen fifties. Crises after the war. Douglas went to his pen. He went to his desk, and like many of you. I bet he didn't know exactly what he thought about something till he wrote it. Till he wrote it down. He he had that kind of writers necessity or need. And the speech that he crafted in the next week or so was entitled sources of danger to the Republic. He took that speech on the road in the wind of by spring eighteen sixty six he gave it all through eighteen sixty six day, teen, sixty seven along with other speeches. He would give but Douglas was always on the road as an orator. No matter what year you look at him in that speech. He skewered Andrew Johnson. Just I mean butchered him he called him an unmitigated calamity of a president. He called him a disgrace to the nation. And he said the country must now for the time being quote stagger under his rule, then Douglas showed a lack of judgment, actually, frankly, I think Douglas was so despairing or fearful or anxious as most Americans were at this moment. Again, it's eight hundred sixty six right at this moment there when he takes the speech on the road. They're debating in the floor of congress the fourteenth amendment. Argued arguably the greatest legislative result of the American civil war, especially section one. Equality before law in birthright citizenship, the very things Douglas's delegation gone to chat with the president about. But Douglas was so fearful of what was to come in didn't know where to put any confidence that he recommended three constitutional amendments in this speech. And this is what I mean by kinda lose his judgment for a moment. The first was to eliminate the president's veto power. Well, Johnson had been issuing vetoes already veto the Freemen's bureau act. He's going to veto everything that comes gonna be till the civil rights Bill his famous veto of the civil rights. Bill is still taught many courses, and then within time Johnson's going to issue more vetoes and all the previous American presidents put together. No, I'm not saying that was a good idea. Secondly, he recommended a constitutional amendment to eliminate the president's pardon power. Does Johnson was issuing pardons? Quite soon blanket pardons for ex confederates and then Douglas when even further and recommended a constitutional amendment to eliminate the vice presidency. I didn't make a lot of sense. If you think about it. Well, there wasn't one at the time. Douglas didn't have an analysis at that moment of what what would have happened after Lincoln was shot. If we didn't have. It shows more Douglas zone hatred of Andrew Johnson. Frankly, then it shows prudent constitutional reasoning perhaps. But before he ended that speech, and then I'll leave this. He said this. It's a kind of a maximum. I think for republics he said our government may at some time be in the hands of a bad, man. When in the hands of a good man, it is all well enough. We ought to have our government, soc ached. Then even when in the hands of a bad, man. We will be safe. That's actually echoing James Madison me Madison's famous writings and the federalist and other places. What is government? Well, it's a monitor on the evils of human nature on some monitor on all of us some monitor on the bad man lurking may be an all of us. Sources of danger. I just like to use that now only because it has a certain political resonance. Guess you couldn't tell. The because it is an example of thousand others of the way Douglas responded to his times whatever that times was he went to his desk. He wrote it down. Then he took it out in his voice like almost nobody else in the nineteen th century. Now, I want to be fairly quick here. Because I can imagine the fantastic questions and politics and prose audience. I do want to say quickly that. Like every other biographer like to claim Douglas was the most complex person of the nineteen thousand. Now, you know that he's full of contradictions and paradoxes, and he is he is one of those public and private figures that you can't put in neat boxes. There are times when Douglass seems to be especially before the civil war in every way, the radical abolitionists the radical thinker the radical activists the radical editor of his own newspaper. Fiercely speaking truth to power fiercely beating down or beating on the doors of American power with little if any hope that flavor would ever die or ever be ended in his lifetime. But then of course, there are other times you find a Frederick Douglass who's learning a certain political pragmatism. He's learning that well before the civil war. He certainly learning it in the eighteen fifties. Indeed. He does learn it in the eighteen fifties as he became a political abolitionists and less of a garrison Sonian. A follower of William Lloyd, garrison less of a moral suasion as believing that you could only change the world by changing hearts, not necessarily by changing laws. But if we go on to the warriors, and especially the post warriors. Douglas became quite the pregnant test. He became a political insider, he became a functionary became a bureaucrat a federal bureaucrat and holding three appointed positions from three three different presidents. Sometimes we find a Douglas who who in the eighteen fifties, not only becomes very political. But even shoulders up to the possible uses of violence, many hated mob violence, but nevertheless, he did believe in certain kinds of revolutionary violence, enhance the ways he got so close to John Brown. By my count. He and John Brown met eleven times, and I have an entire chapter on their relationship. But in the end the also had the great good wisdom. Not the join John Brown at harpers ferry on what Douglas thought was a suicidal mission. However that same Frederick Douglass. We're gonna find in season and out preaching self reliance to his fellow blacks self help create your own institutions stock stop asking asking for handouts, self reliance, self reliance, he famously put it into a speech and then into writing many times during reconstruction to that question always he was asked and Americans were asking what is to be done with the negro will be done to the negro after remains patient. Douglas would answer do nothing with him. Do nothing. He would say with him or to him. But give him fair play. And the do nothing line became almost like a dictum at times that Douglas is of course, been appropriate it today over and over and over again by the American, right? By Blackson, the American right? By the Cato Institute. And a recent book must be somebody from the kiddo institute. A book called self reliant. I sorry book all self made man where the argument is that because Douglas was such a proponent of self reliance that it was the core of his thought, and he was there for a prophet of individualism and not of government action. Which is frankly, I just wanna say nonsense. Douglas was always a believer. In activist interventionist, federal power to destroy slavery to defeat the confederacy to establish civil and political liberty and rights for black people and protect them to try to protect people against violence and terrorism on the ground in the south. If it was possible, he was a believer in activist intervention as government, which is what the radical Republicans believed in. Can't put him in boxes though. Sometimes he is the prophet of the natural rights tradition. And then sometimes he is you know, he's this prophet of self reliance. Depends on when you look it's a long life and long lives across epochs of time in history, especially if it's a person is really participating in that history is going to be fraught with contradiction. But that's what makes biography interesting. I mean, if there weren't these contradictions and paradoxes. Why would we read biography? I mean, there are some people who don't have great biographies and might be because they were bit boring. I don't know think think of this life another way. And then. Could have been a spiritual or something that would have been more. Let's let it round. Bingo. It's over all right. All right. Does this is born in eighteen eighteen long horseshoe. Been taco river out on the eastern shore of Maryland. In a true backwater, the American slave society. It's there's a series of near miracles that lead to the fact that we have in no about him. But he's gonna live all the way eighteen ninety five. He lives pretty much the entire trajectory of the nineteenth century. He's born before. Steamboats are are really in American harbors are on on on rivers. He's born before the telegraph before the railroad and before the rotor repress. Which are all those wonderful elements of nineteenth century Moderna Di all of which he is going to use to fashion a life in a career, especially that railroad in the rotary press. I don't remember Bradley said this or not I speculated in the book that that he may have traveled more miles than any American in the nineteenth century with the possible. Exception of Mark Twain, but twain, cheated he went to Asia. So. But Douglas is going to live all the way to the age of electric, light bulbs, and the telephone and phonograph and a bunch of other things of a of a later form of Moderna eighty that we associate with a late nineteenth early twentieth century. And that always raises the question was he ever recorded on phonograph and Zavarzin, we know the answers. No, it's amazing. This greatest voice of the nineteenth century was never recorded any could have been. But he wasn't. Anyway, an inbetween, of course, he lives through the vast epoch of America's greatest if not certainly the most divisive of our stories slavery, the war, reconstruction and all their after lives, and he had something to say about it. All. Eyeballed down all this complexity, and seemingly a seeming Infinity. To six big themes and just going to name them. And then let you ask about. It is what historians do impose order, right? I mean what else can we do? We have to impose order and this man wrote. Millions of words, that's the first thing words, we wouldn't even be here. But went for Douglas's words, he's all about the language. He never held elective office. He had some point of offices. He never made a living a dime. Doing anything in his public life from eighteen forty one to eighteen seventy seven any other way than with his pen in his voice. I was telling my students being an abolitionist was not a good career move is nothing upwardly mobile about it. There's an Donald tensions for sure. And the surely were no salaries. His pen in his voice. That's all overhead. Words, he had an amazing genius. With words. There's a deep deep interesting story about how little Frederick Bailey came by language, and then teenage Frederick Bailey behind a really practice language, and or it's Ori both the physicality of it and the language of it. And then the adult Douglas in his twenty Frederick Douglass in his twenties began slowly, but surely to master oratory, he didn't come out of slavery a born or older he wasn't born anything. He practiced practiced and practiced in practice and specially practice is writing. Because he wasn't a very good speller. But throughout this book. I make words a principal theme really the subject at one point a argued with my editor that I wanted to call the book, Frederick Douglass biography of a voice, and he I think probably correctly said, Nope. To literary lose your audience. I don't know what to look cool to voice, but who Matic, and you'd be wondering what the hell's a biography of a voice, the second big theme and Bradley already pointed to it, and I won't do much with it is the autobiographies. Twelve hundred pages of Ota Bagger. The first problem any biographer of of a Douglas faces is that the subject is always right there in front of you in your way, controlling you. Manipulating you may and hired to see. Putting some blinders on you. Douglas writes, the first one in eighteen forty five the second one in eighteen fifty five is long for masterpiece. My bondage and freedom. That's second autobiography the one everyone really should be reading instead of the narrative, but the narratives nice and short, and it's a great coming of age story and kids all over the world. Now, read it, thankfully. And then the third one in eighteen eighty one life and times an older man summing it all up name-dropping telling you all the famous people. He's known all the events he's participated in and controlling what you know about those events. He hopes any revises it again eleven years later yet another time never trust. Anyone who writes three autobiography the problem is of course, and it goes without saying, but in the nineteenth century, and no one wrote Telo biogra- autobiography, and he says in those twelve hundred pages very little if anything about his domestic and private or purse. Channel sides of his life. His first wife on a forty four years gets one mention in twelve hundred pages, and she's called my wife. He never talks about his sons and his daughter in the autobiographies except to honor the service of his sons gave him the civil war soldiers expressed his pride. But he never tells us what a father says to nineteen and a twenty year old son. When he recruits them into an army where he can be not only they can be not only killed but enslaved. I have by the way, a long list of the questions. I would ask Douglas if I ever got him in a seminar room with the with the door. This is this is a fantasy of a bunch of us Douglas scholars four hours, at least no bathroom breaks, the doors are locked he's at the table, and we have had him. But every time you start. He just slow his out of the room and disappears. Mr douglas. What did you really think of William Lloyd goes? Mr douglas. And. She followed you out of slavery. She major home. She made your life. She raised your kids your fifth child, and he died at eleven Hannah's namesake. She remained a literate all of her life. You could not share anything in your professional intellectual life too much extent with her. Mr. Douglas, explain. And about three dozen other questions. I have like that. I'll spare you all of those right now. But he gets away you have to find other ways into around through those autobiographies. There are ways third big theme in the book is the bible, I'll be quick with this. But it's a big huge part of his story. N? Shakespeare, yes. He owned three complete collected works of Shakespeare. But he owns several bibles. Douglas learned his bible as a kid. He started hearing the language particularly the Old Testament read aloud often by himself other sometimes by others, especially with this old preacher in Baltimore. When he was about thirteen fourteen fifteen years old man's name was Charles Lawson Douglas called him father Lawson Lawson was a kind of storefront preacher if anyone would listen to him. But he was only partly literate. And when he found this kid who could read so well, he just sat him down and the mesmerized Fred Bailey just loud reading the bible told Lawson into knows nobody was reading and who does with some of those Old Testament stories. But Douglas, learn language through the King, James language. The cadences of Douglas's style are cer- Monica, and they are King, James, more importantly, he drew stories and metaphors from the bible and over time. He is specially adopted. The greatest of all the Old Testament stories to his own story, and that's exodus. Of course, he's hardly alone in the nineteenth century among Americans in a doubting the exodus story, I mean, that's the way so many Americans north or south Saul America, but dubs found ways to embed himself. His people in his nation in that story of the necessity of the destruction of Jerusalem predicted announced warned. By Jeremiah, by Amos, Ezekiel Isaiah etc. That temple in Jerusalem had to be destroyed in that temple became Douglas's United States. Some people might survive. They did we'll survive in gypsum bond is some eleven get the Mount Sinai with Moses some eleven get some kind of promised land with Joshua after sixty or eighty years or however long the Babylonian captivity may have lasted but Douglas found himself in that story, and he could never stop telling it, it's hard to find a speech of Douglas's that doesn't have at least one passage or one paraphrase from Isaiah. Douglas, became an American Jeremiah self-consciously, I'll say one last thing about that. If you put the word profit in the title of your book, you've got to be prepared to defend it. It's an awfully big word. And I had a lot of help with this. I wanted a many times in the writing of this monster. I wanted a year off just to go read the allergy thunder stand this guy. I didn't have that year off. But I had a few theologian friends on whom I really relied and I loved to name, particularly Don Shriver, the former dean or president of union theological seminary in New York. There you go. And he told me after you got finished laughing at me when I asked him, Don, what do I read on the Old Testament? He said well read Walter Brueggemann. He wrote thirty books, but read these two then I make very good friends with a rabbi in New Haven. I'm Jim Ponant who used to be head. Rabbi, Yale University, Jim retired. Ian, nothing do this time except come sit in my lecture classes, go to lunch, and I'm sure other things to do. But Jim finally sat me down and said, all right, David. You got an Old Testament problem here? I said, I know I know I know as a so what do I read and he laughed, and then he said, are you gotta read this in that. But whatever you do make sure read Abraham Hetschel on the prophets. And I did a book called the prophets. And one of the many many many definitions that Hessel gives to the idea of a prophet is this one. The prophet said Hessel is human yet. He employs notes one octave. Too high for our years. He experiences moments that defy our understanding. He is neither a singing Saint norm moralizing poet. But in a psalter of the mind. And more and more red Hetschel and others. I began to see these definitions these passages that said to me that's Douglas is in a of the mind. The prophet is not the person we know who can predict things that's a profane definition of a prophet. Profits are often wrong with their predictions. We throw away that world. That's prophetic. That's not what a prophet. The prophet. Is that person who can find the language to describe to explain to capture moments in time? Pivots in history. Catastrophes triumphs that the rest of us can't fight quite find the words for sometimes in words, one octave higher than the rest of us can really understand Douglas has that capacity. If you read him in speeches or his right? Writings particularly in many of his editors too short fee wrote hundreds of short form editorials in his newspaper messed that John retu-. There are at times on the sentence will just blast. You a paragraph will just nail you. And you've got to read it again. And you have those moments because it sounded like today's headlines. A fourth big theme, and I'll be quick here. Is I already expressed it I try to weave it throughout his public life. He's that radical outsider who becomes the political insider. What happens to a radical reformer when his cause wins in the middle of his life. He's in his forties. Emancipation came out of this Armegeddon of a civil war a war. He wanted to happen. He didn't predicted accurately or any of that nonsense. But what do you do if you've been a radical you never die anything else for God's sake? You you win. What he do? Well, it turns out he had a lot to do. And so did the country and the country's gonna need voice. And he's going to get more speeches after the civil war than ever gave before. But what kind of compromises does the old radical outside or make when he becomes a political insider, we have many many examples of this in our own lifetime. Think of Nelson Mandela. Wow. You know, think of so many leaders of the civil rights movement think of John Lewis and dozens and dozens and dozens of others who became mayors governors and senators congressmen, and it was a community organizer who became president United States for God's sake. And a lot of us bitched at him about making compromises and forgot that. Oh, yeah. He's the president. That's right. It's gotta do is gonna make deals. How do you? How do you spend your life condemning the princes and their laws? And then go join them. That's douglas. He's the prototype for that in a hundred ways fifth. Big theme is the theme of any good biography as Howdy balance the public and the private of a person's life, and I try to do that. I don't right. Just a chapter on the public on chopped around the private in the chapter on his wife in the Trump, and it's all woven together one way or another and use the reader decides whether it works. But Douglas had a complicated. Private life to say, the least a two marriages one day Anna for forty four years free. Black woman followed him out of slavery. The second to Helen Pitts twenty years younger a very well educated. Mount holyoke graduate abolition his family worth in contraband camps, right outside DC here during the war caught malaria had to go home by all measures, a splendid marriage in the last eleven years of his life, but the most scandalous and controversial marriage of the nineteenth century. I don't know. What else you'd compare it to most famous black men in the world one day in total secrecy, married? A white woman twenty years earlier. That was a scandal. Believe me in eighteen eighty four and one of the funniest things in the press coverage. And frescoes went on for months and months and months of this is that people got so ugly in the press coverage that they can't making him older and her younger he got into his seventies. By the time the scandal was over and she was by thirty one. They were forty six and sixty six. In the oven scrapbooks that were so valuable to to write this book. There's one into their ten of the massive family scrapbooks and one entire scrapbook is press coverage of the marriage to Helen. That's how much stuff there was got it. I could tell one diva's most Washington aged seventy two his three surviving adult sons. His one surviving daughter Rosetta between them the Douglas's had twenty one grandchildren than he had about three fictive siblings that he adopted or who adopted him out of slavery, all of whom at one point or another ended up at cedar hill up in anacostia and virtually all of them except his oldest son. Louis ended up financially dependent on Douglas. He woke up every day of his life from the eighteen seventies on wondering did Charles. Another job today can Frederick junior feet is children, and is my son in law gonna Sumi again, which he did his daughter Rosetta had the best education of all of his children. But she met a bad marriage to a young fugitive slave civil war soldier name. Nathan Sprigg who was what my mother would have called on narrow L which was a broad category. And last, but not least a big theme. A big six theme in the book, and again, we've throughout but once he becomes a public person is Douglas, the intellectual Douglas thinker. And he's now been for decades treated as a serious thinker philosophical thinker about law on the constitution. And especially about the natural rights tradition. The no less than three books now by political theorist on Douglas's, a political thinker there, no less than two full at least the two that I know of twofold, collections of essays on Douglas as a constitutional thinker. There's a collection by formal traditional philosophers on Douglas as a formal philosopher he's been treated by literary critics since the nineteen seventies. Some might even say overly treated by literary critics he was a theological thinker, a journalist and quite. An astute commentator on the problem of human memory collective and individual. Try to make those six themes apparent throughout and the the forces of the sort of drives the book at a book talk the other day, someone raised her hand said why aren't you making fame your seventh big theme? And I said good idea 'cause I do a lot in your about the problem of fame. Not just that he was famous but fame was a problem for Douglas. In fact, I I showed the I try to show in the book or argue that here in Washington in the Washington press Douglas's extended family became ineffective, the black first family of Washington, everything they did good bad and ugly. Got into the press all the time. He go to work at the recorder of deeds office in wonder oh God. What do I deal with today? What are they gonna ask me today? Who's suing me or not. A last quick thought. In the last sentence of Douglas's long-form masterpiece. My bondage, and my freedom the second autobiography, which is much more political autobiography that he lands there in eighteen fifty five in the middle of the eighteen fifties midst of slavery crisis. It's right after the Kansas Nebraska act. It's in the midst of fugitive slave rescues bleeding Kansas broken out west. At the very under the book kata Z ended. He says as long as heaven allows me to do this work. I will do it with my voice my pen and my vote. I voice my pen my vote. I love that line because it's all any of us have and most of his don't have the pen. I mean, most of us don't bright for the public. All he ever had the only weapons Douglas ever had was voice vote, and he was damn lucky. Need fifty five didn't have that vote because in New York state black men had have two hundred dollars worth of property in order to vote in a white man did not. My voice my pen, my boat. Thank you. Thank you, Mike. Thanks for Goforth. Really great presentation. This is a should be a simple, really simple question. I jumped up in the in the immediate aftermath of this fateful meeting with president Johnson. Yeah. When he goes in rights, and then goes and speaks if what he wrote and just more generally when he's speaking in general, traveling around speaking. What what was the composition of the audience with respect to those that were already very much on his side versus those who are somewhat sceptical went. So was he and kind of out of that was he trying mostly to change the minds of people who weren't yet on board or yet agreed with him completely. Or was he trying to rally in spring and get? Develop activism on the part of those that were more activism, so what he'd go in the south was he trying to go south in eighteen sixty six sixty seven he goes through the deep south later a lot in eighteen Evo Riley, ninety the answer is all of the above this this an incredibly volatile time as I tried to say sixty six big congressional election. That fall sixty sixty six does see the passage of for Civil Rights Act in the fourteenth amendment. It's not going to get ratified till sixty eight. They're huge important elections each year in sixty six sixty seven and sixty eight these are the first elections in which black people black men will have the right to vote and in sixty eight indeed black men in the south probably elected US grant audiences. So all is depends on where. And when you're talking about Douglas's only lecturing at this point in the northern states. But he went everywhere small towns, big cities churches, especially halls by this point is life. He's an mostly in indoor speaker but early in his career in the eighteen forties as an itinerant abolition as they spoke outside they Spokane fields they spoken. What was once called the Oberlin tent, which was as huge tent built an Oberlin Ohio that the garrisons took on their hundred conventions tour and pitched it and farmers fields that claimed it could hold three thousand people Douglas became one of those speakers. On the Chautauqua circuit, the people just wanted to see I have hundreds of clippings that are basically just accounts of people saying the first time I saw Douglas or what he sounded like. And what he looked like now who's he trying to convince well at that point. He's he's trying to make the essential argument of the radical Republicans, which is. The civil war is a revolution. That destroyed. The first American Republican a second one must be reinvented in constitutional amendments. And by the way, Douglas actually opposed the fourteenth of men by that summer. It was too much of a compromise. It didn't go far enough. This section two in sections for especially section to wasn't aggressive enough about the right to vote for him in the end. He's very glad at past same's going to be true Douglas with the fifteenth amendment. He's gonna actually oppose it at first. It's just too much of a compromise for him. But he was of course, glad at least it was a start. I wanna make sure we get the questions. Yes, sir. Douglas was alive during the first wave of confederate memorial building. Yes. Intelligent, people today realize that this memorials were built to basically celebrate the victory of a reconstruction and happiness pudding blacks place. What did Doug not me? What did Douglas feel about the confederate memorials hated him? One of my favorite lines about that is when Robert E Lee died in one of the major league monument yet when we dies in eighteen seventy but all over the press. There's there's all this honoring of league going on. And Douglas said enough with all this these nauseating flattery is of Robert Lee. I wrote a great deal about this in the book raisin reunion. Douglas, the last third of his life. One of the major themes of his of his rhetoric is life is writing was resisting laws cause was resisting. The arguments of the lost coast was resisting this idea that somehow the war hasn't been fought for slavery. And he saw the honoring of confederate soldiers whether it's in monuments, or it's in rhetoric as a way of avoiding and denying the true purpose the to cause in the true result of the civil war. He spoke it endless G A R reunion gatherings. He spoke at unveilings of union monuments all over the place in the north. And he usually would do so in a way such that. He would he would argue that that was that was the true Cosworth honoring and the confederate cause was not. He saw the loss causes the perpetuation of of of pro slavery ideology. And that's really the way expressed the many many memories speeches, and I quote, some of them in the biography and more of them in that book rayson reunion, or he's making the case. Yes, sir. Professor blake. Thank you so much for being here today. I started reading I started reading the book, and I'm truly finding it to be very interesting. Thank you. You're welcome THAAD. What I was about to good. Good good. But I was one thing. I was wondering is do you know of Frederick Douglass? Ever met her corresponded or communicated with Harriet Tubman. Yes. They met not very many times. And he did ride quite an extraordinary letter to her that. In which I mean, she had said something to him through some kind of correspondence about all the honours. He's getting any rights back to her and says, none I'm not the one who deserves the honors you do 'cause what you've done. I'm paraphrasing him here. But what you've done has been done in quiet, sometimes in secrecy is not as well known. I'm the well-known one. But you're the real hero. That's the tenor of the letter he wrote her, and they make a big deal of it now, and they should up at the Harry tape the Harriet Tubman national historic site up in upstate New York. They didn't have a lot of associations. One would wish they had. She lived a lot in Canada before she moved back to upstate New York. So they weren't exactly neighbors. He's already gone from Rochester to DC one Harriet moves back from Saint Catherine's in Canada back into New York, but they were born. Grew up in just one county apart from each other on the eastern shore. Good evening. Frederick Douglas were alive today would he favor reparations? Did he ever leave? A will. He did leave a will. Say. Well, as you might expect is mostly about his children and his real estate holdings. There wasn't enough ended about his books and papers, thou got very confusing, although the national park service's preserved as books out in a warehouse in Landover, which are priceless, and I got to spend some days in there. Reparations? Yes. He believed in reparations if by that one man passing the Civil Rights Act in the fourteenth amendment and the reconstruction acts, and and and the secondary reconstruction experts were supposed to enforce the right to vote by an apparatus a structure, if by reparations, we mean, a lot moments of x amount of money to the free people at a given point in time. No, I don't think he ever said that at any given moment in time. But if you had if you had press Douglas say in eighteen eighty. Or happens. Let's say it's right after the civil rights case by the supreme court in eighteen eighty three if there should be reparations at the moment supreme court has just ineffective erase the very meaning of the fourteenth amendment. He'd been all ears about a reparation plan fun. The Sunday in the nineteenth century. Yes. Zip together ball, the yes. Route three little biographies. Oh, another one of those guys is. I don't want to write a Bagua who Garibaldi allowed. Yeah. Very much. Thank you. Yes, ma'am. I think we all appreciate your conversation this evening, and congratulations on the reviews that agree that the book is really for I'm market, but the shoe will drop somebody would not great. Elizabeth griffith. I teach women's history of politics in pros. And I'm a biographer of Elizabeth Katie stand. So I'm interested. I know your book I can see cover right there on my relationships or relationship with other white women, his mistresses if second life. Specifically, I wanna know after Stanton and Douglas fought over the fifteenth amendment because it did not include black and white women were they able to repair that the rumor is that her support for his second marriage when it was being dammed by lots of other people helped repair the friendship there's a lot to that. Because both Stanton and Anthony supported the second marriage. A lot of women suffrage just did included. So did Ida wells, by the way, the young Ida wells. I was being very close friends with Helen Pitts. Did this relationship with Douglas and Stanton ever truly repaired? I doubt it although Stanton did ROY one of the most beautiful eulogy lines ever. But Douglas when she said he was majestic in his wrath. I mean, that's as good as I get that line. She could she could spin a phrase that was a terrible break-up, as you know, better than anybody a horrible break-up and the racism expressed by an Stanton, partly about Douglas, but more generally, but black men voting. Frankly, Douglas took it fairly gracefully at the time. Although he did fire back with some unfortunate lines himself like the one that men tended to use the plastic stereotype, he said, I understand women have every right that men do. But let's remember that married. Women have husbands who can vote in their interest. It's like, Fred. Right. When we thought you were modern, you're not. I don't know how many hours we have to go into all the other women relationship. I'll say this. He had many more friendships, call them friendships, very important reform abolitionist and suffrage friendships with women than he did with men. I don't wanna get to psychological about it. But Douglas founded easier to make close friendships with women than he did with men the women weren't competitors. In most ways, they were never really rivals. And he had some brutal rivalries, especially with other black male leaders of the next generation. He did have to relationships with European women. One name. Julia Griffiths in English woman who came and stayed six years and Douglas's home in Rochester from eighteen forty nine to fifty five. I don't think that was a sexual relationship. But cannot prove it nor do I want to. It was one of the most important friendships you ever had in his life. Julia was his assistant editor his principal fundraiser. She bought the mortgage on his house. He she saved as bacon and made it possible for him to keep providing for his family. There's also tremendously important emotional support. We know that from her letters the second relationship is much longer much more complex probably with sexual can't prove that either. That was what the German woman able to Jassem, and you can tell them trying to be really fast with this. And it's not possible. There's a great book on this by Maria Dietrich Germans, well, there's a book on this. I love Maria, but book has some big speculations in. It's called love across color lines published God almost twenty years ago, but he had about a twenty two year relationship with this German woman to Jassem came to who's a brilliant the German Jews, though, not a practicing Jew. She was a ferocious atheist, but a German forty eight her parents were poets she was about as educated as you could be and she became above all else and intellectual companion to Douglas. She came to America to write about abortion ISM in the eight eight fifty three fifty four, and when she is she wrote for German journal, code damore, gin blood, and when she read my bondage and my freedom. She was we would say blown away by it. And she booked train out to Rochester, literally showed up a Douglas, his home as to interview him, and then asked to translate it. It into German the bondage and freedom which she did with her own introduction and tried them. Never leave. For the next twenty two twenty three years, and it became a messy complex inscrutable relationship. Ninety nine percent of which we know about it came only from her pen in about two hundred or so letters she wrote to her sister Ludmila in Europe. But what we do know she came and spent about twelve summers Douglas's home in Rochester Levin, or twelve was spent as much as three months at a time sitting in Anna's garden reading playing with her cat, eating peaches and writing horrible things about Anna. And I was children to her sister. I'm leaving a great deal out. She lived in Hoboken, New Jersey. Doug was frequently visited there. But what he got out of Hoboken? What we know? He got out of Hoboken was till you had a solemn of German emigre artists and writers and intellectuals who lived in Hoboken of all places, and she called tell you called it her game. And Douglas was a special guest is that gang could ever have these artists and writers scientists, and they thought Frederick Douglass was the coolest most exotic thing that ever found in America, and he would spend nights there and sometimes a few days. It's not going to end. Well, she kept trying to coax Douglas to end his marriage. According to her which he was never going to do. She kept trying to coax him to go to Europe with her which he never did. And probably never seriously intended to do. She finally gave up move back to Europe in the early eighteen eighties and not too long after Hannah died and Douglas remarried housing committed suicide in a park in Paris and left to ten thousand dollars states, Douglas his family. That's as fast as I can tell that story. So you shouldn't have asked. But I have to tell you this is woven throughout because. Oh, tell you life in eighteen fifty six inch. She doesn't exit till yearly eighteen eighties, and she became very close with Douglas his children, even though she said some ugly things about them too in the letters. This was. Highly arrogant, I think highly on likable brilliant woman who. Douglas, finally dispensed with but after many many years. Oh, well, he's got his own case of that to our man was nothing if not vein and hypersensitive to by the way to any kind of slates be a racial or about is that lack of education or many other things. Douglas, love being king of the hill. Love being center of attention and didn't not like people trying to knock him off his pedestals and often kept him on a pedestal. We have a number of her letters to him none of her to him. She burned them all. Yes, sir. Oh, okay. I'll just here. Although technically, we're out of time. We'll take two more questions right to brief questions. How to Douglas rate? Maine, Republican all his life. Secondly, why doesn't the Republican committee quote from him? I'll take the first one. Imran Republican all of his life because he had no other choice. The Republican party was the party of emancipation and union victory, and the party of ABRAHAM LINCOLN and the party, Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner and many of of Douglas's other political heroes and John Bingham and Lyman Trumbull and the people who wrote the reconstruction acts and the fourteenth amendment. Douglas, had great difficulty. Staying loyal to the Republican party by the eighteen eighties and into the eighteen nineties but from Lincoln's reelection in eighteen sixty four. Although in sixty four they wouldn't let him publicly campaign Douglas campaign for every Republican president in every campaign from eighty sixty four to his last one in eighteen ninety two and the Republican party sent him out on speaking tours for months at a time all across the north to selected areas where they thought he would be valuable. I could go on and on about it by Republican committee. You mean today why don't they quote him? They do, sir. Too much in my view because today's Republican party. I mean, I think it goes without saying, but they don't believe it. Hasn't been that party. The Douglas was loyal to for what at least ninety years with a few things leftover in the nineteen sixties when some Republicans voted for the civil rights ex, but the Republican party the Douglas embraced is not the Republican party that exists today. And but but they still claim him rest assured when they unveiled the Douglas statue in statuary hall about three or four years ago. Lows Horton was there with me Republican in that's that's a very official congressional event as you probably know all the leadership of congress has to speak bainer McConnell Pelosi and Schumer, Joe Biden and on and on the all they all gave seven minutes, staff prepared speeches, and it was a totally partisan event. All the Republicans talked about what a great Republican Frederick Douglass was and I just kept trying to look at my shoes. But all the Democrats got up is that Doug as a great proponent of home rule for the district of Columbia, which is mostly true. I mean, he did advocate for that. And then Joe Biden talked about something else and save the day. I don't remember what a woke. But the Republicans were all walking around in a button the size of the one you have on your left that said Frederick Douglass was a Republican. And I thought okay for today. We can all smile and believe whatever fantasy we want. Sorry. But there they do quote him today. The Republican party in two thousand four in President George W Bush's reelection campaign published a calendar that they sent to the black communities of the United States. I wrote a piece of boat this where they trotted out every black Republican they could find in their history with Frederick Douglass upfront and Harriet, Tubman, you didn't know how many times she voted for Republicans. Did you all over this calendar was just full in nineteenth century black Republicans in on? I kept thinking poor Harriet Tubman. I'm sorry. Yes, sir. You are you hardened by the fact that President Trump has praised Frederick Douglass as an up and coming black leader. I won't I won't really give you an answer except to say the day the day that that happened. I was actually teaching Douglas's narrative in my lecture course of Yale University and. The news came later in the day after my lecture. I got a text from one of my teaching assistants who said David have you seen this? And he sent me the link to it because by then it was late midday by then he's sent me the link to it. He says in my section at one PM. I put this up on the screen showed a showed the video of it. I showed President Trump's saying this, and he said as one class gasped, and they said he doesn't know who he is. And so my heartened, no. How can you be heartened by? Presidential ignorance, I don't know. I'm sorry. I mean, whoever put that I I don't blame him for whoever put that in his hands. When he went over to to the muse, the new museum to say that. I hope they lost their or something. Thank you. Thank you. All. Live at politics and prose is a co production of the bookstore and slate dot com for information about upcoming politics and prose events visit politics dash pros dot com. And please let us know what you think of this program. Our Email is podcasts at slate dot com.
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