Frederick Douglass’ response to Abe Lincoln’s inaugural speech

Fredick Douglass did not buy Abe Lincoln’s olive branch and did not feel his inaugural speech contained enough to satisfy the slaves. Read the article below you might find it very insightful:

...These efforts of Lincoln’s to assuage Southern fears of Republicans deeply disturbed Douglass, a former fugitive slave who wore the runaway’s travail on his body and in his soul. On this question Douglass had no sympathy with Lincoln’s sensitive plight nor his constitutionalism; all morality was on the side of the human rights of the fugitive slave. Equally disappointing was Lincoln’s reiteration of his oft-repeated intention to “have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists.” Douglass knew that this was a political and legal stance by the president, and he grasped, at least tentatively, that Lincoln viewed slavery as morally wrong. But what mattered now in this late stage of the secession crisis, and with the looming test over whether Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor would be defended, was, in the abolitionist’s view, the resolve to fight rather than kowtow to the wishes of the Slave Power. Douglass had wanted a war-maker’s inaugural, not a negotiator’s diplomatic appeal for calm and mystic unity.


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