Disunion – Too much Frederick Douglass

At the risk as seeming whiny, I have decided to get up on my soapbox and kindly ask the Disunion blog in the New York Times to please not overdo it on Frederick Douglass. As regular readers of Civil War Emancipation are aware, I blogged yesterday on a piece by Tom Chaffin on Douglass that appeared in Disunion on February 25. So I was a little surprised to see in yesterday’s Disunion (March 1) another piece on Douglass written by David Blight. Please don’t get me wrong. I have nothing but the greatest respect for both Blight and Chaffin, and they both wrote nice essays. But two Douglass pieces in less than a week’s time? As I wrote in my comment to Blight’s essay:

Douglass is certainly a very important figure, but he wasn’t the only African-American leader of the Civil War era. Instead of having two blogs on Douglass within a week, why not a blog on Douglass and another on his one time associate, Martin Delany, who in the 1850s became much more militant than Douglass, advocating black emigration to Africa, before the outbreak of the Civil War convinced him to once again throw himself into fighting for a place for African Americans within the United States? Certainly, let’s revisit Frederick Douglass from time to time, but let’s also hear about other black leaders of the Civil War era, particularly leaders who aren’t so commonly known. Disunion has done some pieces along these lines–let’s see some more.

So, to editors of Disunion, please don’t run too many Douglass-centric essays in such quick succession. I know you can do better than this because you have done better than this. So please do it, okay? Thanks. :-)

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About Donald R. Shaffer

Donald R. Shaffer is the author of _After the Glory: The Struggles of Black Civil War Veterans_ (Kansas, 2004), which won the Peter Seaborg Award for Civil War Scholarship in 2005. More recently he published (with Elizabeth Regosin), _Voices of Emancipation: Understanding Slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction through the U.S. Pension Bureau Files_ (2008). Dr. Shaffer teaches online exclusively (i.e., a virtual professor). He lives in Arizona and can be contacted at donald_shaffer@yahoo.com
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2 Responses to Disunion – Too much Frederick Douglass

  1. B.J.Welborn says:

    It’s just that Douglass was so eloquent. But I agree, DISUNION is very busy entwining slavery with secession as if one, then again, here in South Carolina, many insist that slavery had noting to do with secession or the war. An interesting point to me is the hypocrisy evident in any generalization about the Civil War. Remember, abolitionists loved and funded John Brown, our nation’s first famous terrorist. Was that support in the best interest of a more perfect Union? Check out my blog next Tuesday for discussion of a similar topic: http://civilwarodyssey.blogspot.com

    • Hi B.J. I happen to agree with “entwining slavery with secession.” Read the secession justifications–slavery is by far the major theme and its all over other writing in the South at the same time. As for John Brown, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. But the guy was definitely a nut.

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