Speech from Dec. 15, 1865

Abraham Lincoln, a Speech

  • Full Title

    Abraham Lincoln, a Speech

  • Description

    In this speech, Frederick Douglass reflected on how the outpouring of joy at the conclusion of the Civil War turned to mourning with Lincoln’s assassination. His death, according to Douglass was not only tragic, but also prevented recently freed slaves and African Americans from gaining the ear of wise and well-intentioned leader. Towards the end of his speech, Douglass pondered how life would have been different had Lincoln not perished in April, lamenting that his death was a great blow against African American rights.

  • Transcription

    Colored men, first to the brave Colored Soldiers who had fought under our flag and second to the very intelligent part of the Colored population South. This declaration on his part though it seemed to mean but little meant a great deal. It was like Abraham Lincoln. He never shocked prejudices unnecessarily. Having learned Statesmanship while splitting rails, he always used the thin edge of the wedge first, and the fact that he used this at all meant that he would if need be, use the thick as well as the thin. He saw the absurdity of asking men to fight for a Government which should degrade them, and the meanness of enfranchising enemies and de-franchising friends. He was a progressive man, a humane man, an honorable man, and at heart an antislavery man. He had exhausted the resources of conciliation upon rebels and slaveholders and now looked to the principles of Liberty and justice, for the peace, security, happiness and prosperity of his Country. I assume therefore, had Abraham Lincoln been spared to see this day, the negro of the South would have more than a hope of enfranchisement and no rebels could hold the reins of Government in any one of the late rebellious States. Whosoever else have cause to mourn the loss of Abraham Lincoln, to the Colored people of the Country his death is an unspeakable calamity.

    [Transcription by: Evan Laugen, Chandra Manning's class, Georgetown University].

  • Source

    Frederick Douglass Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

  • Rights

    This item is in the public domain and may be reproduced and used for any purpose, including research, teaching, private study, publication, broadcast or commercial use, with proper citation and attribution.

  • Tags

  • Cite this Item

    Frederick Douglass. "Abraham Lincoln, a Speech". Remembering Lincoln. Web. Accessed June 26, 2019. https://rememberinglincoln.fords.org/node/812