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Liberty and Responsibility in the Political Thought of Frederick Douglass

  • The Liberty Fund, Inc. Indianapolis, IN (map)

David Blight will take part in the colloquium “Liberty and Responsibility in the Political Thought of Frederick Douglass,” sponsored by the Liberty Fund, Inc. in Indianapolis, IN., March 9-12, 2017. This event is invitation only and will not be open to the general public.

This Liberty Fund colloquium will examine how after escaping from slavery at the age of twenty, Frederick Douglass devoted nearly six decades in public life to writing, speaking, and otherwise agitating on behalf of universal liberty. His case for freedom is remarkable because he was able to draw on his experiences as a slave to defend the idea that all human beings ought to enjoy the rights promised in the Declaration of Independence. Although the abolition of slavery was Douglass’s most urgent task, his work as an author, lecturer, and newspaper editor extended to many other issues, including the rights of women, temperance, and “the labor question,” as well as many general questions of political philosophy, such as the moral acceptability of violence in pursuit of a just cause, the virtues necessary to maintain a republic, and the characteristics of a true statesman. The colloquium will engage in a deep, careful reading of one of the most brilliant minds of nineteenth-century American life. The focus of the discussion is not merely scholarly; that is, as interested as we are in the content and context of the readings, our principal interest is their relationship to individual liberty and responsibility.

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