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Feb 20 Frederick Douglass

By TJB · Feb 19, 2021 · ·
The story of a slave, who learned to read and write by reading the Bible, and when he escaped became one of the greatest campaigners for abolition. A gifted orator, his book became a best seller.
  1. On this day in Christian History we go back to year 1895 and travel to Washington DC in the United States and remember the death of Frederick Douglass an American social reformer, abolitionist, and statesman.

    Douglas had been born as Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, and had been born into slavery on in a planation on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, probably in his grandmother's cabin. He successfully escaped from slavery after meeting and falling in love with Anna Murray, a free black woman in Baltimore about five years older than him. She strengthened his belief in the possibility of gaining his own freedom and after escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, becoming famous for his oratory and incisive antislavery writings. His communication skills and intellect provided a powerful counter argument to the slaveholders' arguments, that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens.

    His autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, became a bestseller, and was influential in promoting the cause of abolition, as was his second book, My Bondage and My Freedom. After the Civil War held several public offices and became the first African-American nominated for Vice President. He was effective because he made alliances across racial and ideological divides, which was criticised by radical abolitionists, under the motto "No Union with Slaveholders,".

    As a child, Douglass was exposed to a number of religious sermons, and in his youth, he sometimes heard his gran reading the Bible, as he became interested in literacy; he began reading and copying bible verses, and he eventually converted to Christianity. I was not more than thirteen years old, when in my loneliness and destitution I longed for some one to whom I could go, as to a father and protector. The preaching of a white Methodist minister, named Hanson, was the means of causing me to feel that in God I had such a friend. Mentored by Rev. Charles Lawson, and, early in his activism, he often included biblical allusions and religious metaphors in his speeches. He strongly criticized religious hypocrisy and accused slaveholders of wickedness, lack of morality, and failure to follow the Golden Rule, distinguishing between the "Christianity of Christ" and the "Christianity of America" and considered religious slaveholders and clergymen who defended slavery as "wolves in sheep's clothing".

    In a famous speech in the Corinthian Hall of Rochester, he sharply criticized the attitude of religious people who kept silent about slavery, and held that religious ministers committed a blasphemy when they taught it as sanctioned by religion. Considering that a law passed to support slavery was "one of the grossest infringements of Christian Liberty" and said that pro-slavery clergymen within the American Church "stripped the love of God of its beauty, and leave the throne of religion a huge, horrible, repulsive form", and "an abomination in the sight of God". As his reputation grew he visited the United Kingdom, between 1846 and 1848, where he asked British Christians never to support American churches that permitted slavery, and expressed his happiness to know that a group of ministers in Belfast had refused to admit slaveholders as members of the Church.

    To listen to the podcast please visit www.pogp.net

    Sometimes considered a precursor of a non-denominational liberation theology, Douglass was a deeply spiritual man, and on his fireplace mantle he had busts of two of his favorite philosophers, David Friedrich Strauss, author of "The Life of Jesus", and Ludwig Feuerbach, author of "The Essence of Christianity" as well as prominently displaying interior and exterior photographs of Washington's Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church.
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  1. Quasiblogo
    Outstanding post, TJB. Thank you for putting this together. I look forward to reading Douglass' autobiography.

    It's hard to imagine anything about Douglass being a precursor to liberation theology. Then again, the words of our Savior, the Apostle Paul, philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, and the inspiring Dietrich Bonhoeffer have been twisted and used as weapons to serve worldly purposes.

    My father took my siblings and I on several beach vacations to Eastern Shore, Maryland. Outside of the sea breeze, what an oppressively hot and humid place it was in the summer months! It staggers me to think of how anyone could get by working as a slave in that environment.

    Be blessed
      TJB likes this.
    1. TJB
      Thanks quasiblogo, really enjoyed learning about him and researching it, I liked that it was the freed black woman in Baltimore that helped him imagine the possibility of being free.... I suppose that's what redemption literally means
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