An Abridged Version of “What to the Slave is the 4th of July?” -Frederick Douglass, 1852.

Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day?

is shared by you, not by me.

This Fourth of July is yours, not mine.

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?

for the revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without rival.

For my part, I would say, welcome infidelity! welcome atheism! welcome anything! in preference to the gospel, as preached by those divines!

They convert the very name of religion into an engine of tyranny, and barbarous cruelty, and serve to confirm more infidels, in this age, than all the infidel writings of Thomas Paine, Voltaire and Bolingbroke put togheter, have done! These ministers make religion a cold and flinty-hearted thing, having neither principles of right action, nor bowels of compassion. They strip the love of God of its beauty and leave the throne of religion a huge, horrible repulsive form. It is a religion for oppressors, tyrants, man-stealers, and thugs. It is not that ‘pure and undefiled religion’ …but a religion which favors the rich against the poor; which exalts the proud above the humble; which divides mankind into two classes, tyrants and slaves; which says to the man in chains, “stay there”; and to the oppressor, “oppress on”…

God speed the year of jubilee!

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