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Frederick Douglass: Libertarian

Friday, February 17, 2017 13:34
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(Before It's News)

Black History Month is an excellent time to revisit Damon Root’s 2012 Reason Magazine essay Fredrick Douglas: Classical Liberal

In April 1865, as the Civil War was reaching its bloody climax, the abolitionist leader and escaped former slave Frederick Douglass stood before the Massachusetts Antislavery Society and delivered a rousing speech entitled “What the Black Man Wants.” “The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us,” Douglass told the crowd. “I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief.” In fact, he continued, “if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall.…All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!” To modern ears, statements like “let him alone” and “do nothing” may sound suspiciously libertarian. Frederick Douglass has long been accused of harboring certain libertarian tendencies. University of Virginia historian Waldo Martin, for example, charged that Douglass’ “do nothing” rhetoric revealed an unfortunate “procapitalist bias” in his otherwise commendable thinking. Yale University historian David Blight, meanwhile, has criticized Douglass for preaching “a laissez-faire individualism that echoed the reigning Social Darwinism of the day.”



Source: http://www.campaignforliberty.org/frederick-douglass-libertarian

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