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(1849) Frederick Douglass, “On Mexico”

On June 8, 1849, Frederick Douglass gave a major oration at Faneuil Hall in Boston soon after he returned from Europe. The speech addressed a number of issues including the politics of Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky. After his main address, Douglass returned to the podium following an eulogy by William Lloyd Garrison on Scottish abolitionist John Murray. Douglass used this opportunity to critique the recently ended war with Mexico. His remarks appear below.

It is a poor rule that won’t work both ways. Most people think their Lord is like themselves. A certain very pious man was horribly shocked by hearing an abolitionist say that the Negro was made in the image of God. The Lord is in their image, they seem to think, and the devil in the image of the black man.

I desire to bear my testimony, after hearing the eulogy pronounced by Mr. Garrison, with regard to our departed brother and co-laborer, John Murray, of Scotland. About three years ago I had the pleasure of bidding that noble man farewell on the shores of Scotland; and I remember well the deep interest he took in the antislavery questions of this country. His last battle in behalf of the slave was with the Free Church of Scotland; and while he lived, that Church, for its alliance with slaveholders—for receiving their money into its treasury, and extending to them its fellowship in return—obtained no repose. He bore a noble testimony against it; he had borne a noble testimony against slavery before. For the last twenty-eight years, John Murray stood up in Scotland, the firm, the untiring, the devoted friend of the slave. There are two or three colored persons, at least, now in this Hall, who have shared his generous hospitality, and received his hearty “God-speed” in their endeavors to break down slavery and prejudice against color in this country, by creating a public sentiment on that side of the Atlantic that should react in favor of human liberty here. I have no more to say respecting this good man; his consistent and irreproachable character is his

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