Spielberg’s Lincoln Movie: Yet More White Saviors?

Political scientist Corey Robin has a very thorough review and analysis of issues in and around the new Spielberg movie, Lincoln. It focuses on the political machinations in regard to the thirteenth amendment, which officially ended slavery — which was a or the major foundation of the US economic and political system for well over half this country’s history. I have not yet seen the movie, but according to Robin and others, it is another “white savior” movie:

What is so odd about this film—and something I would not have anticipated from Masur’s op-ed—is that it really is trying to show that abolition is the democratic project of the 19th century. Democratic in its objective (making slaves free and ultimately equal) and democratic in its execution, involving a great many men beyond Lincoln himself, and a great many lowly men at that. But it is a white man’s democracy. In the film, in fact, Lincoln tells his colleagues: “The fate of human dignity is in our hands.” Our hands. Not theirs.

The inclusion of so many white players makes the exclusion of black players all the more inexplicable—and inexcusable. It’s just a weird throwback to the pre-Civil Rights era except that emancipation is now depicted as a good thing—just so long as it is white people who are doing the emancipating.

I sometimes ask my students and colleagues, “who freed the slaves?” Most people say the Emancipation proclamation or Lincoln.

Actually those “black players,” the 210,000 black Union soldiers and sailors and the 300,000 black Union support troops played the biggest role in many ways, yet get almost no attention in mainstream accounts of a typically white-centered Civil War. Not to mention the great “strike” of black labor against the treasonous Confederate slaveholders, the black laborers who fled slavery to the North or who sabotaged the plantation economy during the war.

Even Lincoln belatedly admitted the Union forces would have had trouble winning indeed without the black volunteers for the Union cause. That is, in a very real sense, “the former slaves freed the slaves.”

Please add your thoughts on this “blockbuster” movie, especially if you have seen it.


  1. insipid

    I find the whole analysis extremely heinous. First off, the ONE battle sequence depicted in the movie was of black soldiers valiantly fighting. It was placed at the very start of the movie so that this gruesome image lasted throughout. So don’t tell me that Spielberg discounted the contribution of black soldiers, he literally put it front and center.

    Plus, I’m getting tired of this “white savior” meme. It’s a despicable meme that insults the thousands of white men and women that sacrificed and sometimes died for the cause of civil rights. Lincoln was well aware of the fact that pushing for the end of slavery could end his life, yet he did so anyway. Robert Gould Shaw, depicted in the movie Glory, believed in equality to his bones and was buried with his men. Hundreds of white people were lynched in the south because they spoke out against slavery and later for civil rights. White judges were threatened along with their families for enforcing Civil Rights laws. Two white Civil Rights workers were assassinated along with a black man in Mississippi for daring to register black voters. These people should not be snarkily dismissed as “saviors” but honored as partners in the cause of freedom and justice.

    And that’s how black civil rights leaders thought at the time. Frederick Douglas did not disparage Lincolns partnership in the struggle against slavery, he honored it and by his writing, seemed to love Lincoln. Thurgood Marshall did not dismiss the contribution of the white judges that gave him favorable opinions, he honored them. Martin Luther King did not dismiss the contributions of Lyndon Johnson and others that helped, he disparaged those that obstructed progress and organized against them.

    This use of the “white Savior” meme against Lincoln is particularly ironic since there were millions of blacks at the time that literally thought of him as a savior. My biggest complaint of the movie is that it failed to include Lincoln’s visit to Richmond.

    Perhaps Lincoln’s biggest failing as a leader was his near total disregard for his own safety. Upon hearing of the news of the fall of Richmond Lincoln decided he wanted to visit the city and went with an entourage of only seven guards. Needless to say, everyone besides Lincoln was justifiably terrified. Here they were riding into the enemy capitol with an extremely hated- and very recognizable- President. The reason why Lincoln and his men made it out alive was the fact that the former slaves saw him. Upon recognizing Lincoln hundreds, then tens of thousands, of soon-to-be-freed slaves surrounded him, many weeping, many referring to him as Moses, some no-doubt as their savior, one man went to his knees and Lincoln insisted that he should never do that again for any man. And he walked in the heart of rebel territory, in complete safety, surrounded in love and adoration by the people for whom he would later give the last full measure of devotion.

    I wondered at the time why this scene- perhaps the most significant and moving scene of the entire war- was not included in the movie. The scene, in its accurate historical depiction SOUNDS Speilbergian. And yet Speiberg, of all people didn’t include it.


    Now I know. If depicting the contribution of a white person towards the cause of equal rights is considered anathema how awful would it be to depict the honest and heartfelt gratitude of black men? Obviously, if you’re to go by the above analysis, the millions of black people that loved and mourned Lincoln at the time of his death were rubes suckered into believing that they should feel gratitude towards a partner that gave his life to ending an evil institution.

    It’s an analysis that dishonors not just Lincoln but the millions of blacks that supported him.

    • cordoba blue

      Insipid has a point here. Is the ultimate goal to insult whites, or terminate racism? Because the truth is you can’t have it both ways. Whites are needed in the battle against racism. If African Americans are capable of saving themselves, they are welcome to do so. However, that’s not what I read on here every day.
      I read that blacks should be compensated BY WHITES for slavery endured in past centuries. I read that blacks need more social aid programs paid for BY WHITES to help in poor black neighborhoods. I understood that African Americans voted for Obama so he could PERSUADE WHITES to implement more college loan programs to help underprivileged black students.
      I was under the impression that WHITES need to hire more African Americans in the job market because they are under-represented. And WHITE loan officers at banks need to terminate the practice of being biased against African American applicants.
      If this is true, than a great deal is expected of WHITE people, is it not? As it should be. That being said, why denigrate white people who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the goal of a bias free America? Do African Americans welcome help from the WHITE community or not?
      Insulting whites in the course of a siege may be specious. All volunteers should be welcomed, I would think. Else the list of applicants may just cease altogether. Nobody wants to be slapped in the face if they are offering support.

      • insipid

        That is so far from my point that the light from my point would take a thousand years to reach that dribble that you just spouted.

        My point is that the struggle for equality has been a partnership, something we’re all in together. Your suggestion that blacks are demanding some unfair compensation from whites for past wrond is insulting.

        Most social aid programs do not go to blacks, they go to whites. Furthermore here’s a news flash for you- blacks pay taxes too. The policies that PRESIDENT Obama are advocating benefit everyone. Blacks are not the only people that get student loans (plus since when is a LOAN an aid program? You do have to pay it back, you know), black people are not the only ones that get sick and need health care.

        I am NOT saying that black people are insuficiently grateful to the White man for their largesse. That is a false and insulting meme. I am saying that it is a mistake to discount the great and real sacrifice that white people such as Lincoln made to further the cause of freedom for all.

        As is so often the case, Frederick Douglas said it best in his 1876 speech comemorating Lincoln:

        In doing honor to the memory of our friend and liberator, we have been doing highest honors to ourselves and those who come after us; we have been fastening ourselves to a name and fame imperishable and immortal; we have also been defending ourselves from a blighting scandal. When now it shall be said that the colored man is soulless, that he has no appreciation of benefits or benefactors; when the foul reproach of ingratitude is hurled at us, and it is attempted to scourge us beyond the range of human brotherhood, we may calmly point to the monument we have this day erected to the memory of Abraham Lincoln.

        This meme of “white savior” to me is the very definition of the “foul ingratitude” that Douglas spoke of. We should not segregate blacks from whites in discussing the struggle for equality. We cannot elevate one group by rediculing the other.

        I’m against memes and slogans replacing thought. The WHITE makers vs. the black takers is a racist meme that you should be ashamed of. So too is the “White Savior” meme.

        • cordoba blue

          Well, Gosh Mr Insipid! Didn’t mean to insult your delicate sensibilities by misinterpreting your post by “a thousand light years”. Your mind works in subtle ways for sure. I guess I’m not as sophisticated in my thinking as you are.
          So let’s just get this straight: you don’t like the suggestion of white makers versus black takers. You also think the white savior meme is something people who generate this idea should be ashamed of and smacks of “foul ingratitude”. You like President Obama cause his programs benefit everybody. Ok,,got it! {Light bulb lights above my tiny head.}

    • Insipid,

      You raised some very good points. I just wished to acknowledge that. And, thank you for the story about Lincoln in Richmond. I was totally unaware of this story. As an African American, I do wish to find instances of White moral agency. So, thank you for the various reminders of that in what you have related.

      But you have not addressed the wider issue of the operations of the White Racial Frame as it bears on the film. I don’t know that you are familiar with the concept or Joe’s text. If you are, how do you “read” the film in light of the issues of the white racial frame?

      Again, thank you for your insights.

      • cordoba blue

        Dear Herb,
        One problem not mentioned is that most films created by BLACK film makers don’t exactly create a positive image of the black community. The movie “Precious” about a black teenager continually raped by her father and verbally abused by her mother, was directed by Lee Daniels, a well known black director. It was promoted by Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey {who recommended America see the movie because “Everyone knows a Precious Jones.”}
        If black film makers made more HISTORICAL films such as the Lincoln one above, then we would have an opportunity to view history from outside the white racial frame and from an African American perspective.
        However, when black film makers do make movies, they reinforce black stereotypes. For example, Tyler Perry is known for creating, and performing in drag, the Mabel “Madea” Simmons character, a tough, vindictive, and overreactive elderly black woman. Some of these characters make buffoons of black people, similar to minstrel shows. Eddie Murphy has made several films dressed in drag depicting over weight black woman and befuddled black men who can hardly function.
        I pose the question: why cannot African Americans, if they have the financing that Tyler Perry, Eddie Murphy and Lee Daniels have, create movies about black history? And thus narrate the events from a black perspective?
        White people, no matter how hard they try to be impartial, are after all still white. It’s almost impossible to shed the WRF entirely if you ARE NOT BLACK, wouldn’t you agree? With the best of intentions, and I believe Spielberg had very positive intentions regarding respect for the black community, a white person will always be a white person.
        Tim Wise, the well-known anti-racist, always emphasizes that white people must OWN their whiteness and not make the assumption that one white person can get inside the African American experience more than another white person. It’s called taking ownership for your fallibility. If this is the case, it would be beneficial for black film makers to investigate the possibility of making BLACK HISTORY movies. This would negate the influence of the white racial frame entirely.
        Thank you for your thoughts by the way. Respectfully submitted, Cordoba

        • Cordoba,

          I agree entirely with your assessment. Picking up one strand of your thoughts, I’d say that we’ve all been socialized into the white racial frame (white, black, brown). My perspective is that it is a battle for all of us to think and be outside of it. As the white racial frame – worldview, values, emotional responses, assumptions, perspectives – pervade our social reality. We are not able to get outside of our civilization as a manifestation of the white racial frame.

          As I understand this, to be human is to be socialized in a particular historical context, to be influenced by that context – language and culture. What I can do is come to an understanding of how my language and culture influence the ways that I encounter and make sense of the world about me. The white racial frame is given to me through my language and culture. I cannot escape it. However, I can learn how my language and culture predisposes me to interprete, explain, image, assume, categorize, decode and encode meaning, and emotionally respond to sights and smells – even ideas. And, as a human, I can learn another language and aspects of a different culture (even invent culture in the company of others). I can be other than my socialization. I can see the consequences of the white racial frame as it operates in me and others. I can judge those consequences, acknowledge the ways the WRF hurts me and others. I can address the manifestations of it – successfully and unsuccessfully. I can admit where the WRF has laid hold of me, become angry with it (narrative theory – externalization), and resolve to continue to work on eliminating it.

          My underlying point in all of this is that the WRF impacts us all. But that does not mean that we can do nothing about that. We can do something. We can act on ourselves. We can work in small units to deconstruct its operations among us – the WRF as ideas, habits, behaviors. And we can work on it together in its institutional manifestations.

          Cordoba, I assume that you already understand all of this. I write this in empathy with my brothers and sisters who may interpret an attack on (critique of) “whiteness” (ideology not skin color) as a personal attack on them. We are all socialized in the shadow of the white racial frame. None of us escapes it. So I can have empathy and connection with others who are struggling with racism and “white virtuousness” as aspects of the WRF, Just as I too struggle with aspects of the WRF arising out of my social location as Black man. I embrace white folk and all folk who wish to walk the road with me (Black people) toward ending racism. I do not demand that we entirely agree on what the issues are; I ask only that we be in honest dialogue to develop common language and fellow feeling to address the issues and to seek the transformation required (personal and systemic) that will move us away from the WRF to a liberty and justice frame, an altruistic, humanistic frame.

          • cordoba blue

            Dear Herb,
            I sincerely hope you stick around here and continue to comment! Your kindness and true sense of humanity are evident. You reach out to all races when you say that you embrace all folk who wish to walk the road toward ending racism. “I do not demand that we entirely agree on what the issues are; I only ask that we be in honest dialogue,,to move away from the WRF”. Spoken like a true humanitarian who seeks the termination of quarreling and the beginning of understanding.
            Respectfully, Cordoba

  2. ignoblus

    “The difference is that in the case of emancipation, blacks—both free and slave—were actually far more central to the process of their own deliverance.”

    This is wrong, and actually kind of offensive. The vast majority of Jews saved from the Holocaust were smuggled into the Palestinian Mandate by Jews. For most Jews, Zionism is liberation, and that was accomplished primarily by Jews. Most non-Zionist Jews still at least point to the partisan fighters (though for many the partisans simply committed honorable suicides).

    Btw, if we wanted to talk about the Righteous Among the Nations, Schindler still saved very few. See, for example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiune_Sugihara. Schindler made a good subject because his position as a manufacturer for the Nazis was especially dramatic and because, as Spielberg has acknowledged, he was someone Spielberg felt audiences (read: white Christians) could identify with.

  3. I saw “Spielberg’s Lincoln” last Saturday. I thought it was a fair representation of how the historical characters understood what they were doing, their arguments, politics, their sense of how the passing of the 13th Amendment would impact the outcome of the war. I thought the representation of their dilemma regarding the prospect of freeing the enslaved, their fear of the Black presence, their unwillingness to incorporate Black people into the body of the nation as moral equals to whites – all rang true.

    The white racial frame was abundantly present at the historical moment in which these issues were being played out in the 1860s, and the white racial frame is abundantly present in Spielberg’s unconscious depiction of this past (the script, the characters as race types, the inclusions and omissions). We ought not be surprised by this. How can this be otherwise?

    Spielberg and we, at this notable historical moment of November 6, 2012 event, are no less caught up in the white racial frame than was Lincoln and liberal thinkers in the 1860s. I loved the film for the way it illuminates our present context, a context still awash in the white racial frame. Please, let us not be surprised. The mindset/worldview/consciousness that created the Lincoln film as well as the white-framed presentation of the historical perspectives in the film appear to me to be accurate.

    Through Spielberg’s understanding and portrayal of Lincoln, we are better able to see a particular enactment of the white racial frame – an analog for discerning current manifestations of the WRF. Thank you Mr. Spielberg. You’ve done us a service.

  4. mbfromnm

    I am white and chose not to see the film, even though my wife and other close white friends went to see it.

    I no longer have any interest in these films that show history solely from a white point of view. I know that this only contributes to a view of our history that, once again, has people of color playing bit roles. That white-centric view of history is all too common and does nothing to deconstruct the Walt Disney stories about this country. The same goes for the movie, Precious, which contributes to the image of black men as rapists. Even Beasts of the Southern Wild had a black father who was drunk most of the time, even though he did heroic acts. The more things change in cinema, the more they remain the same.

  5. Joe Author

    All of you have raised an array of important questions about how we view our highly racialized past, and how we operate in our racial present. Thanks for the interesting discussions. Lincoln remains a saintly iconic figure in almost all mainstream media presentations. Lincoln is indeed generally portrayed as a “white savior” figure when it comes to “freeing the slaves,” and almost no Americans today know the story I mention at the end of my brief commentary about the half million, mostly formerly enslaved, African Americans who forced an end to slavery by their bravery in the Union forces — and the hundreds of thousands of other Blacks who went on what Du Bois called the “general strike” against the Confederacy and its economy. Where, for example, is the current movie about these hundreds of thousands of Black Americans who, in effect, freed themselves from slavery? Where is the movie about the long months and great efforts that Frederick Douglass and other black and white abolitionists took to convince Lincoln (who used the N-word and liked “darky” shows, and was intensely white supremacist in his view of the country, to the end) to make use of Black soldiers and sailors? I can think of many dozens of dramatic plots for major movies of this era that deal with Black agency against white oppression and other racism realities, yet not one has ever been made by the mainstream movie industry. How about one centered on the towering and perhaps greatest male leader/activist/thinker of the US in the 19th century (Including Lincoln) — Frederick Douglass?

    And you do not need to use today’s moral standards to judge the white “heroes and founders” like Lincoln or Jefferson as failing hugely on racism issues. You can use the lives and figures of people like Albion Tourgee and Frederick Douglass (or Robert Carter III in the case of Jefferson) to judge their morality on racial matters. They fail over against such people of their own day — who were well out in front of them morally on racism issues…

  6. xxalleyezonme401

    The movie is good if you do not know history. The movie dwelled on the 13th amendment; all the labor and compromise that went into it. Conspicuously absent from the film was a well-known quote Lincoln is known to have made :that if he could save the Union and preserve the institution of slavery, he would, and if he could save the Union by ending slavery, he would, and if he could save the Union by keeping some slaves and freeing some slaves, he would. Thus, Lincoln was not was more focused in White unity than slavery. However, the film portrayed Lincoln as a man obsessed with the concept of abolition as a moral evil. This is historically untrue: the Emancipation Proclamation was a ‘necessary war measure’ designed to weaken the South’s forces. Remember, the border states were loyal to the Union by still had slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in the SOUTH not in the border states. Why? Because White unity was more important than slavery. Thus, it is no surprise that in a 2 and a half hour film, the monumental Emancipation Proclamation is mentioned only passingly. Not to mention – if you READ the text of the 13th amendment, it simply refashions slavery through the penal system. The text says : neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist EXCEPT as a punishment for a crime. This means that the prison is the afterlife of slavery. The movie presents the law as the instrument of freedom – but it has your enslavement built into the text! This is why we need to step outside of the law completely. This explains why after slavery ‘ended’, the Black Codes arose which made it illegal for Blacks to do anything – and thus gave rise to the convict-lease-system. Slavery has absolutely been reshaped through the criminal justice system – especially when you consider the fact that most of the faces behind bars are Black and prisons are being privatized. It was interesting how it took over 2 hours for the movie to actually READ THE TEXT of the 13th amendment – and when it finally did, who read it? S. Epatha Merkerson – the police lieutenant on Law & Order. So, the 13th amendment refashions slavery into the prison system through the law and a chief law enforcer on a prime time television show reads it aloud..

  7. cordoba blue

    America yearns for heroes just like any other society. The fact that the heroes are flawed is painful to accept. Thus, whites, and still many African Americans, view Lincoln as a paragon that finally administered justice for enslaved black people.
    But Lincoln was not an abolitionist. He did watch a slave auction in New Orleans, while working on barges up and down the Mississippi when he was 20.He said it was the most horrible thing he’d ever seen.
    I’ve read most of Carl Sandburg’s 6 volume “Abraham Lincoln” set.Sandburg won a Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Lincoln! It goes into Lincoln’s life extensively. Fantastic very well researched books. And since it was written in the early 20th century, Sandburg could actually interview some people who knew Lincoln.
    Even though the book is a biography, Sandburg makes it so palatable it reads like an exciting work of fiction with plenty of suspense.
    Lincoln was a very down-to-Earth unpretentious person, as is well known. He abhorred Washington elitism and frequently told humorous stories about the facetious hypocrisy rampant within that city. He never wanted to be president. However, he was such a popular figure, he felt obligated to “give it a try”. He was told he would receive a new hat as a gift on being inaugerated. He told Mary Todd, his wife, “Well, dear, if I get nothing else out of this, I’ll at least receive a new hat!”
    The Southern states knew his sentiments about slavery and that he found it distasteful. He NEVER said he wanted to free the slaves, however. He was not an abolitionist. He did say once, “A man should be paid for the labors of his own hands. That is evident to me.”
    When Lincoln was elected president over Stephen Douglas the South panicked. They fully believed, erroneously, that his first act as president involved freeing their slaves. That was NEVER his intent. Death threats from Southern sympathizers were so rampant right after his election, that he was secretly ushered into Washington on a heavily guarded train a few days before the inaugeration.
    The South began seceding, state by state, immediately after he was inaugerated. So the South basically jumped the gun “just in case”, so intertwined was their economic survival on slavery.
    Plus, for psychological reasons, the South greatly feared a large freed African American population. There were about 4 million slaves in the South before the Civil War. Southern whites had no idea what to expect of so many African Americans if they were truly given “white status”. Propaganda depicted blacks raping white women, burning white farms, murdering white people in their beds etc. And many whites really believed this would transpire if blacks were allowed emancipation.
    Lincoln’s first priority was to keep the Union united.He took the oath of office very seriously and was determined to uphold the Constitution at all costs.He deemed it unconstitutional for the south to secede. He also thought America would be vulnerable to foreign encroachment if the country remained divided. And he was probably correct.
    However, Lincoln thought blacks were definitely inferior intellectually to whites. He considered many aspects of slavery inhumane, but did not hold this conviction enough to cast his alliance with the abolitionists.
    If you read enough about Lincoln, however, he was frequently conflicted about the morality of many of his actions. Once when he was practicing law in Springfield, Illinois a young lawyer asked him, “Mr Lincoln, don’t you have to lie sometimes if you are defending a man who you know is guilty in the courtroom? Don’t all lawyers lie sometimes?” And Lincoln became very quiet, hung his head, and never answered. He knew that being an attorney required vacillation and rationalization.
    He knew that being president required vacillation and rationalization also. That’s not to say he didn’t have some excellent qualities. He was extremely sensitive to the lives of so many white men dying during the Civil War. He felt a tremendous amount of guilt regarding sending so many men to their death, but he didn’t know the Civil War would last so long.
    Regarding black soldiers, he did hold a distinctly racist attitude toward their lives. He did not seem to value their sacrifice as much as he did the ultimate sacrifice of the white soldiers. One reason he issued the Emancipation Proclamation is because he thought it would inspire the white Union soldiers to fight harder if they had one more cause to fight for: namely human rights.
    Also, Lincoln, though he detested slavery, was not going to abolish it where it existed unless he felt he had the Constitutional authority to do so. On April 4, 1864, Lincoln wrote a letter to A. G. Hodges expressing this belief in the Constitutional limitations of his office. He insisted that his efforts to uphold the Constitution included every effort to preserve the Union. If Lincoln felt to free the slaves prior to 1863 was unconstitutional, what made it constitutional after 1863?

    Lincoln was waiting for two key factors before he would set the slaves in the South free, “military necessity” and clear support from more of the people in the Union. In the documentation itself, the Emancipation Proclamation says that Lincoln sees this act as a “military necessity”, like that “clear and present danger” meme. Lincoln invoked his power as Commander-in-Chief by saying that emancipation was a “military necessity.” The freeing of slaves was designed to cripple the economy of the South.
    By hindering the South’s economy through the blockade and freeing of the free labor source, the Union wasable to diminish the Confederacy’s ability to wage war. Wars cost lots of money and resources and Lincoln was able to remove many of these resources from the Southern rebels. It was viewed as a legitimate wartime tactic. Lincoln also strategically left the Border States alone. He allowed them to continue owning slaves as long as they remained loyal to the Union.
    Thus, we have a man who, I believe, had a conscience but not enough. He realized the horrors and injustice of slavery, but did not possess the conviction to abolish it. He felt compassion for African Americans but did not see them as fully functioning human beings. He had many doubts about their ability to survive as free citizens without white intervention. It would have been interesting to see how Lincoln would have legislated during Reconstruction if he hadn’t been assassinated.

  8. Jamasion Garrett

    Frederick Douglass was born Fredrick Augustus Washington Bailey in the early 1800s in the month of February. Douglass was born a slave like most black during these times in the country of talbot Maryland between Hillsboro. Douglass became successful at a young age learning to rad from white children in the neighborhood. He learned how to write by observing the white men whom he worked.

    Frederick Douglass secretly kept teaching himself how to read and write. Douglass is famous for his line.”Knowledge is he pathway from slavery to freedom. When Douglass was given to william free land, he taught other black slaves on the plantation to read the new testament at weekly Sunday school.

    Douglass met a beautiful women named Anna Murray , a free black woman in Baltimore. Anna freedom strengthened his belief in the possibly of gaining his own freedom. Douglass tried multiple times to scape in 1838 he was finally successful by boarding a train to Havre de grace, Maryland disguising his self in a sailor uniform given to him by his girlfriend Murray. After escaping from slavery, Douglass became a leader of abolitionist movement gaining role for is oratory and antislavery writing. Douglass joined several organizations, including a black church, and attend abolitionist meeting on regularly basis. After people herd him speak at William Garrison meeting he was encouraged to become an anti slavery lecturer. Douglass gave his first speech t the Massachusetts anti slavery society annual convention . In 1848 Douglass was the only black male to attend the first women rights convention, the senera falls convention. Douglass argued that he could not accept the right to vote as a black male if women were involved in political sphere. Douglass believed that education was the key to successful for black americans to improve their lives. He was an early advance for desecration schools.

    Douglass was acquainted with the racial abolitionists john Brown but disapprove Browns plan to start armed slave rebellion in the South. Douglass and the abolitionists argued that because the aim of the civil war was to end slavery black Americans should be allowed to fight for their freedom. Douglass publicized this view in his newspapers and several speeches. Douglass conferred with President Abraham Lincoln about the treatment of black soldiers, and conversation with President Andrew Johnson on the subject of black suffrage.
    President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which took effect on January 1, 1863, declared the freedom of all slaves in Confederate-held territory. Slaves in held areas and Northern states would become freed with the adoption of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865. Douglass described the spirit of those awaiting the proclamation. “We were waiting and listening as for a bolt from the sky we were watching by the dim light of the stars for the dawn of a new day we were longing for the answer to the agonizing prayers of centuries.”

    During presidential Election of 1864, Douglass supported John C. Frémont who later withdrew and endorsed Lincoln. Douglass was disappointed that President Lincoln did not publicly endorse suffrage for black freedmen. With the North no longer obliged to return slaves to their owners in the South, Douglass fought for equality for his people. He made plans with Lincoln to move the liberated slaves out of the South. During the war, Douglass helped the Union by serving as a recruiter for the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. His son which is a Jr. also served as a recruiter and his other son, Lewis Douglass, fought for the 54th Massachusetts Regiment at the Battle of Fort Wagner. Slavery everywhere in the United States was outlawed by the post-war of the 13th Amendment. The 14th Amendment provided for citizenship and equal protection under the law. The 15th Amendment protected all citizens from being discriminated against in voting because of race. Douglass’ support for the 15th Amendment, which failed to give women the vote, led to a temporary estrangement between him and the women’s rights movement.

    At the Emancipation Memorial in Washington’s Lincoln Park, Douglass was the speaker. Douglass spoke frankly about Lincoln, noting what he perceived as both the positive and negative attributes of the late President. Douglass called Lincoln “the white man’s president” and cited his tardiness in joining the cause of emancipation. Douglass also said Lincoln initially opposed the expansion of slavery but did not support its elimination. Douglass also said: “Though Mr. Lincoln shared the prejudices of his white countrymen against the Negro, it is hardly necessary to say that in his heart of hearts he loathed and hated slavery.”

    After civil war, Douglass was appointed to serval political positions Douglass served as president of the reconstruction era freedman s saving Bank. After two years, Douglass resigned from ambassadorship because of different disagreement,with us government policy. Douglass supported the presidential campaign of Ulysses S. Grant. President Grant signed into law the Klan Act and the second and third Enforcement Acts. Grant used their provisions vigorously, suspending habeas corpus in South Carolina sending troops into other states. Grant leadership over 5,000 arrests were made. The Klan took it hard and that made him unpopular among many whites. Frederick Douglass was happy about grant actions and praised him.

    After reconstruction they began to impose new laws that disfranchised black and to create labor and criminal laws limiting their freedom. In 1877 Douglass was appointed an us Marshall. At the 88 republican national convention, Douglass became the first african american to receive vote for the presidential o the us in a major party roll call vote. Douglass was appointed minster resident to the republic Haiti. Douglass also constructed rental housing for blacks. Now known a Douglass place on February 20, 1895, Douglass attended a meeting of the National council for women after he made it home he had a massive heart attack and died. Douglass funeral was held at metropolitan african methodist episcopal church. In conclusion Fredrick Douglass was a Black American social reformer orator, writer and statesman.

    • Jamasion Garrett

      Sources and citation

      1. Frederick Douglass”. Retrieved 2011-04-20. 2 Frederick Douglass Biography”. Retrieved September 4, 2012. 3.Frederick Douglass (1845). Narrative of the Life of an American Slave. 5.rederick Douglass (1855). The Anti-Slavery Movement, A Lecture by Frederick Douglass before the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society. Retrieved October 6, 2010. 6http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Douglass#External_links

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