Frederick Douglass, engraving in “An Anti-Slavery Album of contribute from friend of Freedom, 1834–1858.” Manuscript Division.

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“The Celebration in ~ Corinthian Hall,” Frederick Douglass’ Paper (Rochester, N.Y.), July 9, 1852, p. 3.

On July 5, 1852, eminent african American abolitionist Frederick Douglass delivered a brilliant speech to almost six hundred world filling Rochester, new York’s Corinthian Hall, as arranged by the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Sewing Society. His an effective indictment that American slavery and also racism, presented to a predominately white abolitionist audience, has resonated for 168 years, consisting of in NPR’s recent video clip of five young descendants of Douglass reading excerpts native the speech. Those excerpts space mainly attracted from the persons Douglass himself decided to encompass in “What to the slave Is the fourth of July?” together an “extract from an oration,” in My Bondage and also My Freedom, his 2nd autobiography, published in 1855. The passages in the extract have been the ones usually quoted over the years.

There is value, though, in reading the whole text. You can uncover the complete speech printed in Douglass’ very own newspaper, Frederick Douglass’ Paper, July 9, 1852, start on web page 2, six short paragraphs listed below the title, “The Celebration at Corinthian Hall.” complying with a deferential opening and also acknowledgment the the courage of those that led the country to independence, Douglass pointedly and repeatedly to exclude, himself and all black color Americans from celebrating that independence.


“The Celebration in ~ Corinthian Hall,” Frederick Douglass’ Paper (Rochester, N.Y.), July 9, 1852, p. 2.

He provided ample evidence in assistance of his stance through searing explanation of the horrors the American slavery, indigenous the internal slave trade to the tyranny that the Fugitive slave Act.

The July 5th date because that the event, instead of the 4th, is significant. The reason provided for this date in an notice in Frederick Douglass’ Paper, July 1, 1852, is the “the fourth of July comes on Sunday,” but that was not the just reason. Together Douglass emphasized, celebrate the July fourth Independence work while numerous Black Americans to be enslaved was the height of hypocrisy. In addition, the July 5th date had special importance for afri Americans in brand-new York. On July 5, 1827, Black new Yorkers marched through lower Manhattan come celebrate the abolition of slavery in the state, which took result the work before. One reason for their choice of July 5th then was issue of violence native white July fourth revelers. Another despicable association v July 4th was that servant auctions were sometimes performed on that date.


Freedom’s Journal (New York, N.Y.), June 22, 1827, p. 2. Wisconsin historic Society.


Plattsburgh Republican (Plattsburgh, N.Y.), might 5, 1827, p. 3. North NY Library Network in NYS historic Newspapers.

Douglass’ ideas on many concerns evolved end the years, however the see of the hypocrisy of celebrate the July fourth holiday while countless African Americans to be enslaved was a repeated theme for Douglass, and other abolitionists, before and also after the 1852 oration. At the very least as at an early stage as July 7, 1848, just eight months after Douglass established The phibìc Star, the original title that his newspaper, that blasted the solemn event of July fourth as “This anniversary the American hypocrisy passed off in this city with every demonstration of enthusiasm.” In the editorial, “The shame of America,” in the June 27, 1856 concern of Frederick Douglass’ Paper, that lamented, “What a pity, and, at the exact same time, what a shame it is, that our Nation’s holiday, rather of being, together it have to be, a renewing of a people’s vows in behalf of human liberty, need to only exist as a stupendous monument the a nation’s inconsistency and also disgrace!”


“The fourth of July,” The north Star (Rochester, N.Y.), July 7, 1848, p. 2.


“The dead of America,” Frederick Douglass’ Paper (Rochester, N.Y.), June 27, 1856, p. 2.

Coverage that the 1852 speech in the July 9th concern concluded with the report the Douglass got “a universal burst of applause,” a vote of thanks, and also a request the the “Address be released in pamphlet form, and seven hundred copies of it were subscribed for on the spot.”

The pamphlet to be advertised as accessible for sale as quickly as a mainly later, in the newspaper’s July 16th issue.


Ad because that “The 4th of July Address,” Frederick Douglass’ Paper, July 16, 1852, p. 2.


Oration, ceded in Corinthian Hall, Rochester, by Frederick Douglass, July 5th 1852. Net Archive.

The pamphlet noted a means for Douglass to reach an even wider audience. To do, what the strove come do: “O! had I the ability, and also could with the nation’s ear, ns would, to-day, deal out biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke.” Frederick Douglass had that capability and his speeches and also writings proceed to reach the nation’s ear.

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Posted in: african American History, Biography, Digitized Newspapers, Holidays

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