Monday, October 12, 2020

Booknotes: A Glorious Liberty

New Arrival:
A Glorious Liberty: Frederick Douglass and the Fight for an Antislavery Constitution by Damon Root (Potomac Bks, 2020).

Of course, there are a great many books published each year about Frederick Douglass's involvement in the abolitionist and black civil rights movements of the nineteenth century as well as his relationships with other major figures of the Civil War era. Damon Root's A Glorious Liberty concentrates on Douglass's view of the U.S. Constitution, with the author contrasting Douglass's more uplifting interpretation of the founding document with the damning one famously espoused by fellow abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison (who quipped that the Constitution was a "covenant with death and an agreement with hell"). Root's book "places Douglass's constitutional thought at the forefront of his extraordinary life and career" (pg 4).

From the description: In telling "the story of a fundamental debate that goes to the very heart of America’s founding ideal," the author reveals how Frederick Douglass’s fight for an antislavery Constitution helped to shape the course of American history in the nineteenth century and beyond. At a time when the principles of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were under assault, Frederick Douglass picked up their banner, championing inalienable rights for all, regardless of race. When Americans were killing each other on the battlefield, Douglass fought for a cause greater than the mere preservation of the Union."

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