American politics are not an adventure in limitless pluralism, but rather are based upon moral truth.
Indeed, its express purpose as stated in the preamble, to “secure the blessings of liberty,” is, Douglass emphasized, “in harmony with the Declaration of Independence.” The Constitution so understood is not only a mechanism for law, but also a commitment to natural justice.
Regard for the Declaration in political practice would preclude even the consideration of slavery.
The Tocqueville Program for Inquiry into Religion and Public Life and the Potenziani Minor in Constitutional Studies recently partnered with the Institute to Humane Studies to host an on-campus undergraduate seminar.
The seminar focused on “The Political Thought of Frederick Douglass.” Over the course of five hours of moderated discussion and many more hours of informal conversation, participants explored and debated themes and questions drawn from Douglass’ essays, letters, and speeches.
As a 10 year old, he argued with a Supreme Court justice about who was a bigger Notre Dame fan.
In the autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass captures of religious hypocrisy through the cruel and inhumane master, Captain Auld. He faces many hardships that scars him for the rest of his life, such as: witnessing Captain Auld crying out a verse while whipping a young slave women and not being able to pray without permission..
Disregard for the Declaration can turn the Constitution from an instrument of good government into a cover for injustice.
Indeed, Douglass thought, “It was [John Calhoun] who first boldly declared the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence, self-evident falsehoods.” It was then the party of Calhoun who made a political practice out of enforcing and extending slavery, using the Constitution as a guise.
If we know man, we know that man is equal in his natural rights to life and liberty.
It follows that one man may not legitimately deprive another man of this equality.