Return to the fountain of freedom

By Edward Achorn

Every American would benefit by reading Frederick Douglass’s gut-wrenching address on the Declaration of Independence, which he delivered on July 5, 1852, at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, New York. That was more than ten years before Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation and 13 years before slavery was finally abolished.

It is a scathing denunciation of America’s hypocrisy in perpetuating slavery while celebrating the signing of the Declaration, which declared that “all men are created equal” and that all are endowed with rights no man or government could justly take away.

I write about this speech in my new book, Every Drop of Blood.

“What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” the great black leader and former slave asked.

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How ex-slaves freed America

By Edward Achorn

It is one of the supreme ironies of American history that our nation and our freedoms were saved by men who had been enslaved.

I think this story is not as widely told as it should be. Perhaps it does not fit today’s ideological narrative that black Americans are eternal victims of white privilege, and that blacks and whites must remain enemies.

But the heroism of the 180,000 black Americans who served for the United States during the Civil War ought to be recognized, remembered, and honored. They filled the Union ranks, fought, and died, and ultimately made it impossible for the Confederacy to fight on.

They saved the United States and, in doing so, radically transformed race relations in America.

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