For anyone interested, this is the third installment of a little self-educational, comparative study of Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and Clarence Thomas in their own words perhaps inappropriately posted under the Book Notes banner. Please refer back to my Preface diary for a little more background (1). While obviously amateurish in nature, we’ll see where this one time experiment takes me/us and hopefully the effort will spark someone with talent to take up andyd’s torch.
Pressing on…339 pages of Douglass, 85 pages of Washington, and 215 pages of Thomas.
With the strange word “chappaqua” ringing in my ears; I cannot resist this slap at the character of some among our current ruling class from Mr. Douglass upon his being urged to move to the South after the war in order to run for elective office:
“The thought of going to live among a people in order to gain their votes and acquire official honors was repugnant to my self respect, and I had not lived long enough in the political atmosphere of Washington to have this sentiment sufficiently blunted to make me indifferent to its suggestion.” (2)
On a more serious note, it is hard not to appreciate a serious, intellectual understanding of the founding of this Republic as opposed to the more recent politically correct revisionism of those times and people:
“…the Constitution of the United States not only contained no guarantees in favor of slavery, but, on the contrary, was in its letter and spirit an antislavery instrument, demanding the abolition of slavery as a condition of its own existence as the supreme law of the land.” (3)
Followed up with this with respect to the necessity of this “instrument” or ruling document applying to all:
“…the fathers of the Republic neither intended the extension nor the perpetuity of slavery and that liberty is national and slavery is sectional.” (4)
As I’ve commented elsewhere, it is worth reading his take on the lead up to war and the “shameful” behavior of President Buchanan but I will wrap up this section with his impression upon meeting President Lincoln:
“Long lines of care were already deeply written on Mr. Lincoln’s brow, and his strong face, full of earnestness, lighted up as soon as my name was mentioned. As I approached and was introduced to him he arose and extended his hand, and bade me a welcome. I at once felt myself in the presence of an honest man – one whom I could love, honor, and trust without reserve or doubt.” (5)
I suspect this species of pure, undeniable character has been extinct inside the beltway for quite some time. (By the way, the title quote above comes from a recounting of a conversation the author was having with John Brown, page 196.)
As for Mr. Washington, here I’ll let him school our Occupy Wall Street friends a bit:
“My experience…has taught me to have no patience with those people who are always condemning the rich because they are rich, and because they do not give more to objects of charity. In the first place, those who are guilty of such sweeping criticisms do not know how many people would be made poor, an how much suffering would result, if wealthy people were to part all at once with any large proportion of their wealth in a way to disorganize and cripple great business enterprises.” (6)
With just a little more anti-leftism advise:
“I have usually proceeded on the principle that persons who possess sense enough to earn money have sense enough to know how to give it away.” (7)
Finally, somehow he manages to offer this direct hit on our current diminutive executive:
“…great men cultivate love, and that only little men cherish a spirit of hatred.” (8)
A little man indeed.
Not to be left out, the good Mr. Thomas socks it to our political class:
“…I no longer believed in utopian solutions, or the cynical politicians who used them to sucker voters, claiming to care about the poor while actually exploiting them.” (9)
…knowing full well what happens when the inevitable occurs:
“Years later these same dogmatists would walk away from the wreckage of their failed policies, like children tossing aside a broken toy. But the victims they left behind were real people—my people” (10)
…and the true nature of those involved:
“I’d already noticed that it was liberals, not conservatives, who were more likely to condescend to blacks.” (11)
On that note, I’ll wrap up this edition with a story related by Mr. Douglass that…for me at least…near perfectly illustrates some of these themes and what today’s elected Left truly thinks of their most solid voting block:
“In one of my antislavery campaigns in New York five and thirty years ago I had an appointment at Victor, a town in Ontario County. I was compelled to stop at the hotel. It was the custom at that time to seat the guests at a long table running the length of the dining-room. When I entered I was shown a little table off in the corner. I knew what it meant, but took my dinner all the same. When I went to the desk to pay my bill I said, ‘Now, landlord, be good enough to tell me just why you gave me my dinner at the little table in the corner by myself.’ He was equal to the occasion, and quickly replied, ‘Because, you see, I wished to give you something better than the others.’ The cool reply staggered me, and I gathered up my change, muttering only that I did not want to be treated better than other people, and bade him good morning.” (12)
What was that word that Mr. Thomas used? Oh yea, “SUCKERS”.
Proud Redstate Member since April 2006…?
(2) The Life and times of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass. Page 290.
(3) The Life and times of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass. Page 186.
(4) The Life and times of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass. Page 218.
(5) The Life and times of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass. Page 251.
(6) Up From Slavery: An Autobiography by Booker T. Washington. Page 71.
(7) Up From Slavery: An Autobiography by Booker T. Washington. Page 72.
(8) Up From Slavery: An Autobiography by Booker T. Washington. Page 65.
(9) My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir by Clarence Thomas. Page 115.
(10) My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir by Clarence Thomas. Page 105.
(11) My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir by Clarence Thomas. Page 108.
(12) The Life and times of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass. Page 331.