glyph 476: a great speech on the importance of the American "Declaration of Independence", principles of human freedom, basis for hope, 19th century, abolition of slavery ... commerce as the gate opener, peace through commerce ... William Lloyd Garrison ... Douglass's oration was delivered in Corinthian Hall, Rochester, New York, July 5th 1852


Commerce Opens the World to All Pervading Light

from Frederick Douglass's Independence Day speech, 1852

The entire speech, and all of Garrison's poem will be found at:

Douglass's concludng paragraphs:

Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation, which must inevitably work The downfall of slavery. "The arm of the Lord is not shortened," and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from "the Declaration of Independence," the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world, and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. The time was when such could be done. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. But a change has now come over the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable. The arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. Wind, steam, and lightning are its chartered agents. Oceans no longer divide, but link nations together. From Boston to London is now a holiday excursion. Space is comparatively annihilated. Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic are, distinctly heard on the other.

The far off and almost fabulous Pacific rolls in grandeur at our feet. The Celestial Empire, the mystery of ages, is being solved. The fiat of the Almighty, "Let there be Light," has not yet spent its force. No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light. The iron shoe, and crippled foot of China must be seen, in contrast with nature. Afric must rise and put on her yet unwoven garment. "Ethiopia shall stretch out her hand unto God." In the fervent aspirations of William Lloyd Garrison, I say, and let every heart join in saying it:

God speed the year of jubilee
The wide world o'er!
When from their galling chains set free,
Th' oppress'd shall vilely bend the knee,
And wear the yoke of tyranny
Like brutes no more.
That year will come, and freedom's reign,
To man his plundered rights again

Douglass's great speech was found for the Explorers Foundation by James C. Bennett, author of The Anglosphere Challenge, who notes an article about this speech, by Jonathan Bean, "National Review Online", July 4, 2009.

Also by Jonathan Bean, at Independent Institute •••

In researching Douglass for my new book Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader, I found there was nothing 'simple' about this giant of a man. We remember him as a fugitive slave and fiery abolitionist, we forget that he developed a coherent classical liberal philosophy based on natural law and natural rights. Far more than a race man, he was a man struggling with the real challenges to classical liberal thought. Taken together, the Douglass speeches in my book offer insight into the core values he shared with other classical liberals: individual freedom, Christianity, colorblind law, the Constitution as a 'Glorious Liberty document,' and the bourgeois virtues associated with capitalism (work, self-reliance, limited government interference).
July 5, 2009; edited/updated July 7, 2019

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