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Frederick Douglass' "How to End the War"
May 1861

We are often asked by persons in the street as well as by letter, what our people will do in the present solemn crises in the affairs of the country. Our answer is, would to God you would let us do something! We lack nothing but your consent. We are ready and would go, counting ourselves happy in being permitted to serve and suffer for the cause of freedom and free institutions. But you wont let us go. Read the heart-rendering account we publish elsewhere of the treatment received by the brave fellows, who broke away from their chains and went through marvelous suffering to defend Fort Pickens against the rebels.-They were instantly seized and put in irons and returned to their guilty masters to be whipped to death! Witness Gen. Butler's offer to put down the slave insurrection in the State of Maryland. The colored citizens of Boston have offered their services to the Government, and were refused. There is, even now, while the slaveholders are marshaling armed Negroes against the Government, covering the ocean with pirates, destroying innocent lives, to sweep down the commerce of the country, tearing up railways, burning bridges to prevent the march of Government troops to the defence of its capital, exciting mobs to stone the Yankee soldiers; there is still, we say, weak and contemptible tenderness toward the blood thirsty, slaveholding traitors, by the Government and people of the country. Until the nation shall repent of this weakness and folly, until they shall make the cause of their country the cause of freedom, until they shall strike down slavery, the source and center of this gigantic rebellion, they dont deserve the support of a single sable arm, nor will it succeed in crushing the cause of our present troubles.

Douglass’ Monthly, May, 1861

International Publishers, New York, NY


Consider These Questions



1. Why does Douglass think that emancipating slaves and enlisting black soldiers will bring a speedy end to the war? What do you think might have happened if Lincoln responded to his demands from the beginning?

2. Douglass states that "one black regiment alone would be the full equal of two white ones. The very fact of color in this case would be more terrible than powder and balls." What effect did Douglass expect an African American regiment would have on Southern slaves? On the Confederate Army?

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