Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln: A Relationship in Language, Politics, and Memory

Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln: A Relationship in Language, Politics, and Memory

Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln: A Relationship in Language, Politics, and Memory

Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln: A Relationship in Language, Politics, and Memory

Excerpt

David W. Blight Amherst College

In 1937, a former slave, Cornelius Garner, was interviewed at the age of 91. Asked if he had fought in the Civil War, Garner replied to his black interviewer: “Did I fight in de war? Well if I hadn’ you wouldn’ be sittin’ dere writin’ today.” He described the corner in his native Norfolk, Virginia, where slave auctions used to be conducted on New Year’s Day. “Dat day, New Yeah’s Day,” said Garner, “should be kept by all de colored people. Dat is de day o’ freedom. An’ day ought to ‘member Frederick Douglass too. Frederick Douglass tol’ Abe Lincun, ‘Give de black man guns an’ let him fight.’ Abe Lincun say, “Ef I give him gun, when he . . .

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