David Blight, Frederick Douglass, and the 2016 Election

Some of you may know that David Blight is close to completing a biography of Frederick Douglass that is slated for publication late next year. This talk on Douglass at Harvard Law School took place the day after the presidential election. I think it is safe to say that Professor Blight was in a state of shock while delivering this talk. At times it really is unclear as to whether he is talking about Douglass and the Civil War or the current state of the nation.

Perhaps that is the important lesson.

6 comments… add one
  • I’m not sure what the election has to do with his talk. You could have mentioned it occurred a week after the Cubs won the world series. That would be just as relevant.

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    • Except that the speaker himself referenced it more than once.

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  • You can feel his devastation! Great talk! He is not alone. Many do see this election as a watershed. And not in a good way.

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  • Get over it, Dave. Stick to history. You are not a political scientist. I was taught that history is about objectivity, but his political bias clouds his historical interpretation.

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  • I liked David Blight’s talk once he got into the main body of it. Blight’s points about Douglass’ use of the Old Testament and his descriptions of the untapped sources in Savannah were interesting interpretations, and I hope to learn more about them. Based upon this talk I look forward to his volume on Douglass when it is published later.

    As to Blight’s opening comments — well, so he acted like a “duck hit on the head.” His politics and mine probably diverge on several points. So what? I’ll get over it. I still respect his work.

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    • As to Blight’s opening comments — well, so he acted like a “duck hit on the head.” His politics and mine probably diverge on several points. So what? I’ll get over it. I still respect his work.

      Exactly. And it is still possible to critically evaluate his interpretation of Douglass without worrying about his politics.

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