"The most killing refutation of slavery is the presentation of an industrious, enterprising, thrifty and intelligent free black population." (Frederick Douglass)
In March of 1853, escaped slave Frederick Douglass penned a letter to fellow escaped slave Harriet Beecher Stowe regarding the plight of blacks in the United States. Mrs. Stowe had just written and published a little book called Uncle Tom's Cabin which would lay the groundwork for the Civil War less than a decade later. (For more information about Uncle Tom's Cabin, visit http://alinefromlinda.blogspot.ca/2012/03/uncle-toms-cabin.html.
Mr. Douglass opened his letter with: "You kindly informed me...that you designed to do something which should permanently contribute to the improvement and elevation of the free colored peopled in the United States." He went on to describe the social disease that blacks of his era suffered from: "poverty, ignorance and degradation". (http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/letter-to-harriet-beecher-stowe/)
Mr. Douglass explained that the only way that blacks could conquer the disease was to be put on an equal footing with whites, "in the sacred right to the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit happiness." He challenged Mrs. Stowe by saying; "You dear madam can help the masses...by lifting these from the depths of poverty and ignorance...prejudice is a bar to the educated black among the whites; and ignorance is a bar to him among blacks."
Frederick Douglass pointed out that America had three black lawyers at the time, but it was not near enough. Furthermore, whites refused to employ them and blacks followed the lead of the whites. Mr. Douglass announced that his master plan to improve the lot of the blacks was to open an industrial college. As he concluded: "...the most killing refutation of slavery is the presentation of an industrious, enterprising, thrifty and intelligent free black population."
*This post was first published in 2015.