Good morning, it’s Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, the day of the week when I reprise quotations intended to be uplifting or educational. Today’s is from Frederick Douglass, who on this date in 1838 effectuated his escape from bondage in Maryland.
Rented out as a carpenter on the Baltimore docks, Douglass, then known as “Fred Bailey,” hopped on a train heading north. Posing as a merchant seaman, he changed trains in Philadelphia, then spent a few days in New York City. He was joined there by Anna Murray, a black woman who had been born free and aided in his escape. They were married in New York on Sept. 15, 1838, but they still weren’t safe from slave hunters who roamed the city. Local abolitionists helped the couple sail to New Bedford, Mass., where they began playing their part in ending slavery on these shores.
Frederick Douglass was a man who would defend himself physically in a fight, even when the odds were not in his favor, and he would urge President Lincoln to enlist slaves in his army, but he is remembered today for the tremendous force of his words, some of which I’ll reprise in a moment.
First, I’d point you to RCP’s front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion pieces spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters, columnists, and contributors, including the following:
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Fitful 48 Hours for Americans, Afghans Trying to Escape. Susan Crabtree reports on apparent bureaucratic delays that hindered the departure of a chartered plane carrying dozens of U.S. citizens, at-risk religious minorities and Afghan allies.
One Enduring Lesson From Afghanistan: Don’t Invade. At RealClearDefense, Scott Savitz examines the 80-year effort by the British to establish governance in Kabul, which presaged later failures by the Soviet Union and the United States.
American Principles and the Challenge of Afghanistan. At RealClear’s American Civics portal, Adam Carrington considers how concepts articulated by the 18th century French thinker Montesquieu shed light on recent events.
The Lack of Trust in Elections — and How to Get It Back. Chad Flanders and Kevin Vallier offer a prescription.
When Will PA Mayors Wake Up to the Crime Crisis? Gabe Kaminsky reports on the continuing rise in violent crime in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and the muted response of Democratic leaders in those cities.
Of the World’s 25 Dirtiest Cities, 23 Are in China. At RealClearEnergy, David Holt questions why climate-change activists aren’t calling out the world’s worst polluter.
Five Facts on the U.S. Electric Grid. No Labels has this primer at RealClearPolicy.
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As he became one of this nation’s most prominent abolitionists, Frederick Douglass repeatedly warned white Americans that a reckoning was coming, and that it was unlikely to be peaceful. “If there is no struggle, there is no progress,” he said in an 1857 speech in Canandaigua, N.Y. “Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.”
The “awful roar” that was coming, however, was the sound of cannon fire, not the tides. Yet even after the Civil War ended slavery, much of the work of freedom remained. And Douglass knew something that champions of freedom from Martin Luther King Jr. to Alexander Solzhenitsyn have reminded us, which is that slavery and other forms of tyranny don’t only harm those under the yoke. They threaten oppressors as well, stunting their very souls.
In an 1883 speech at a civil rights meeting in Washington, D.C., Frederick Douglass expressed that thought this way: “No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.”
And that’s our quote of the week.
Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics