Indeed this is a testimony that covers most of 19th century American history. I don't know how any person claiming to be American can legitimately do so without having read any of the autobiographies collected here. It should be a requirement for citizenship (instead of the unmerited fact of being born). If there is no doubt that Douglass was an extraordinarily talented writer, the marvelous thing is that his soul was no less extraordinary than his mind.
“Upon this pro-slavery platform the war against the rebellion had been waged during more than two years. It had not been a war of conquest, but rather a war of conciliation … without hurting slavery.”
Slavery was not a casus belli, but the right to seccede was.
“Men could say they were willing to fight for the Union, but that they were not willing to fight for the freedom of the negroes … this was especially true of New York, where there was a large Irish population … There is perhaps no darker chapter in the whole history of the war than this cowardly and bloody uprising in July, 1863. For three days and nights New York was in the hands of a ferocious mob … it hanged negroes simply because they were negroes; it murdered women in their homes, and burnt their homes over their heads; it dashed out the brains of young children against the lamp-posts; it burned the colored orphan asylum”.
Douglass tells things as they were, not a bit like modern journalists do: either demonizing or omitting things as their own interests dictate them. Douglass is to be praised and imitated by all those who have the power to impress the minds of readers anywhere. A courageous, good-natured, and honest man like you don't find anymore.
“I esteem myself a good, persistent hater of injustice and oppression, but my resentment ceases when they cease, and I have no heart to visit upon children the sins of their fathers.”
I loved this book.