100 Books for America: Frederick Douglass

With 84 days until the election, let us continue looking at the 100 books every American should read. These write-ups will be short and not incredibly comprehensive looks at some books and novels that will help you become a better citizen. Check out all of the books that have been picked.

At least one book dealing with Frederick Douglass needs to be on this list. The problem is he wrote several that dealt with different aspects of his life and it’s hard to pick which one is the most important.

So we’ll start with a comprehensive biography that hits all expects of his life.

David W. Blight’s “Frederick Douglass: American Prophet” is as good a biography as you can find.

He argues quite well that Douglass is one of the most important figures in American history. He makes the point without his book every falling into hagiography.

Douglass’ faults and contradictions aren’t denied or diminished.

They’re just far outshined by his brilliance, courage, dedication and strength.

He puts Douglass in perfect perspective for today’s world.

If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

Douglass isn’t just some soft orator or writer, he’s a firebrand who helps birth the modern America.

Instead, if there is a Second Founding, Douglass is the Washington or Madison of that era.

The thing about Douglass that is so interesting is that he might be the only prominent man who fits into both the the America before the second founding and the America after it.

In the America before the second founding, we see him as the brilliant and courageous abolitionist. In the America after that founding, he is the conscience of a nation.

He is person we can look to today to see why it’s worth fighting to make America better.


Previously, we looked at a great American novel. Up next, the story of an American City.

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