Frederick Douglass: Role Model for Single Cause – Death or Diaspora

Go Lean Commentary

CU Blog - Frederick Douglass - Model for Single Cause - Death or Diaspora - Photo 1The Caribbean can learn an important lesson from a 150 year-old Role Model, Frederick Douglass. His is a powerful lesson for the advocacy of Single Causes. Despite the plethora of earth-shattering developments for human rights in the period of 1840 to 1880, (slavery, Empire-building-Colonialism, suffrage, feifdom-serfdom, Aboriginal genocide, etc.), Mr. Douglass remained steadfast and committed to one cause primarily: abolition of slavery and civil rights for African-Americans.

Who was Frederick Douglass? What did he do? See the Mini-Biography VIDEO of his life and legacy, here:

VIDEO – Frederick Douglass – Mini Bio –

Uploaded on Jan 26, 2010 – A short biography of Frederick Douglass. The abolitionist who was born a slave not only worked towards the freedom of Blacks, but also advocated for women’s rights and education in general. He was one of the most prominent African-American voices during the Civil War.

The publishers of the book Go Lean…Caribbean recognize the contributions of Frederick Douglass in the historicity of human rights. The book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU) to empower societal elevation (economics, security and governing engines) for the Caribbean region. The issues germane to Mr. Douglass life and legacy also relate to the Caribbean. Since 29 of the 30 Caribbean member-states (“St. Barths” is the only exception) have a majority Black population, the book posits that the 19th century effort is not finished; the legacy lingers as the Afro-Caribbean populations are still repressed, oppressed and suppressed, but now more so economically.

The legacy of Frederick Douglass, is that if an oppressed population didn’t find refuge, the only outcome would be Death or Diaspora.

The Diaspora prophecy happened, then in Ireland and today, especially here in the Caribbean! (In a previous blog, it was revealed that after 1840, emigration from Ireland became a massive, relentless, and efficiently managed national enterprise. In 1890 40% of Irish-born people were living abroad. By the 21st century, an estimated 80 million people worldwide claimed some Irish descent; which includes more than 36 million Americans who claim Irish as their primary ethnicity).

Caribbean citizens are also pruned to emigrate … to foreign shores (North America and Europe) seeking refuge. In a previous blog-commentary it was asserted that the US – the homeland  for Frederick Douglass – has experienced accelerated immigration in recent years. Published rates of societal abandonment among the college educated classes have reported an average of 70 percent in most member-states, with some countries (i.e. Guyana) tallying up to 89 percent. For this reason, there is solidarity for the Diaspora of Ireland and the Diaspora of the Caribbean.

The publishers of the Go Lean book are also steadfast and committed to one cause: arresting the societal abandonment of Caribbean communities. This would lessen the future Diaspora. This would be good!

In his advocacy, Frederick Douglass sought consult and consort with the “enemies of his enemies”, the oppressed people of Ireland.

In the modern day application, the Go Lean/CU movement seeks to consult with the lessons of history, such as this one of Frederick Douglass’ sojourn to Ireland. We now have the privilege of study of this role-model and his odyssey to Dublin and the cities and towns of pastoral Ireland. See the article here:

Title: Frederick Douglass’s Irish Odyssey
Sub-Title: Tom Chaffin, author of Giant’s Causeway, assesses the influence on the anti-slavery campaigner of his time in poverty-ridden and religiously divided Ireland

For young Frederick Douglass in August 1845, soon to leave Boston for a lecture tour of undetermined length of Ireland, Scotland and England, fame had proven a double-edged sword.

CU Blog - Frederick Douglass - Model for Single Cause - Death or Diaspora - Photo 2Tall and handsome, Douglass was in his late twenties then – just how late he did not know. Slavery had robbed him of knowledge of the exact circumstances of his birth – its precise date as well as certainty of his father’s identity.

He had escaped his bondage in Maryland in 1837 and soon found his way to the free soil of Massachusetts. Two years later, by then married and having started a family, he had established himself as a gifted orator on the abolitionist speaking circuit. Under the sponsorship of William Lloyd Garrison’s American Anti-Slavery Society, he travelled the states of the North, railing against human bondage and demanding that it be outlawed, activities that sparked frequent threats against him.

In spring 1845, Douglass published his first book– Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave. The memoir stirred fresh hostilities. To avoid physical harm or being forcibly returned (by bounty-hungry “slave-catchers”) to his bondage in Maryland, it was decided that, until things cooled down, he would leave the United States for a while, for a hastily and incompletely planned lecture tour of the British Isles.

After landing in Liverpool, Douglass and his white travelling companion, fellow abolitionist James Buffum, were to ferry across the Irish Sea to Dublin. There they would commence Douglass’s lecture tour. While in Ireland, he would also work with Richard Webb, a Dublin printer, to publish a British Isles edition of the Narrative.

Still other motivations compelled Douglass’s overseas journey – personal desires left unspoken in public comments made before he sailed. His mother, from whom he was separated soon after his birth, was a slave. Although Douglass was never certain, he presumed that his father was a white man. And by travelling to the British Isles, the orator later wrote, he aspired “to increase my stock of information, and my opportunities for self-improvement, by a visit to the land of my paternal ancestors”.

The journey would transform the young man. Its impact upon him, particularly in Ireland, would be dramatic, lasting and, in the end, liberating. Put another way, in Ireland, Douglass found his own voice. “I can truly say,” he wrote home as he completed his travels there, “I have spent some of the happiest moments of my life since landing in this country, I seem to have undergone a transformation. I live a new life.”

Before leaving Belfast and Ireland, Douglass, on January 1st, 1 846, writing to William Lloyd Garrison, gathered his impressions of Ireland: “My opportunities,” he wrote, “for learning the character and condition of the people of this land have been very great. I have travelled almost from the hill of ‘Howth’ to the Giant’s Causeway and from the Giant’s Causeway to CapeClear.”

In Ireland, Douglass also met several individuals who made deep impressions on him – notably the “Liberator,” Daniel O’Connell; and Cork’s temperance movement leader, Father Theobald Mathew. As the tour progressed, Douglass anticipated – correctly, as it turned out – that newspaper coverage of his passage through Ireland and Great Britain would increase his stature as an international celebrity; and that publicity in foreign newspapers, refracted by the US press, would exponentially increase his renown in America: “My words, feeble as they are when spoken at home,” he told an audience in Cork, “will wax stronger in proportion to the distance I go from home, as a lever gains power by its distance from the fulcrum.” But little did Douglass calculate how that lever of publicity – by increasing the domestic renown that he had traveled to Europe to allow to wane – would, for him, soon nourish still greater worries over personal harm.

The tour of Ireland, Douglass’s first sojourn abroad, tested and transformed the young man’s still emerging identity – his private and public convictions; his self-reliance; his fealty to his wife, friends and colleagues; the depth of his courage; the mettle of his integrity; and the limits of his compassion for the world’s downtrodden. Indeed, as Douglass toured Ireland, a potato crop failure was shadowing the already impoverished island, a ruined harvest that would soon transmogrify into a catastrophe of unparalleled suffering, ruin, death and diaspora. Confronting that poverty, Douglass, writing home, noted that he found “much here to remind me of my former condition”. But he also found his compassion often undercut by repulsion before the island’s “human misery, ignorance, degradation, filth and wretchedness”.

Douglass’s tour consisted of extended stays, for multiple lectures, in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Belfast. He also made brief stops in Wexford and Waterford. In a country then largely uncrossed by railroads, he conducted an alternately exhilarating and wearying forced-march of successive public performances. Yawning between each stop were long, cold, bone-rattling horse-and-carriage trips through wind- and rain-slashed, coastal mountains and other damp landscapes. In Ireland and Britain, no longer employed by others, Douglass fended for himself, organised his own itinerary and, to help finance the tour, sold copies of the book he had written – until then an impossibility due to a simple fact: most earlier tours had been conducted before the publication of his first book.

The Narrative, as it happened, had been published two months before Douglass’s British Isles tour. In Ireland, as planned, he oversaw the publication of a British Isles edition of the book; afterwards, he did more than stay abreast of accounts and sell the new edition. He also tended to the logistics of transporting the books, or otherwise arranging for them to be sent from his Dublin publisher to each stop – thanks to robust sales, an often urgent task; “Well all my Books went last night at one blow,” he pleaded from Belfast. “I want more[.] I want more.”

Equally important, the tour accelerated Douglass’s transformation from more than a teller of his own life-story into a commentator on contemporary issues – a transition discouraged during his early lecturing days, by white colleagues at the American Anti-Slavery Society: “Give us the facts,” he had been instructed, “we will take care of the philosophy.” “Be yourself,” he was also told. Even so, lest Douglass, in diction and matter, seemed too refined during those years, he was also advised, “Better have a little of the plantation manner of speech than not, ‘tis not best that you seem too learned.”

By the era in which Douglass arrived in Ireland, fewer than half of the island’s population were exclusively speakers of Irish. By then, the language was largely confined to poor, often illiterate and rural areas. Moreover, during his Irish travels, Douglass’s hosts and those who attended his lectures were English-speakers; and his hosts numbered among the island’s more prosperous residents.

In Ireland, Douglass confronted a Pandora’s box of contentious issues – some of immediate relevance to him, others unique to the island; among the latter, he often possessed only a general familiarity. The ever present tensions between Catholics and Protestants proved especially difficult to navigate. As recounted by a local newspaper, during one lecture, responding to an accusation by a Protestant attendee that at another lecture in that same city, Douglass had maligned Protestants, he answered that, “It was not to be expected he could tell a Roman Catholic from Methodist by looking him in the face.”

Attempting to win favour with particular audiences – variously, each dominated by Catholics, Protestants, Irish nationalists, or United Kingdom loyalists – Douglass often strayed into controversies removed from the anti-slavery message that he came to Ireland to impart. But eventually, he disciplined himself to avoid fights not his own and to focus on his campaign to end American slavery.

“I only claim,” he confided to an associate midway through the tour, “to be a man of one idea.” Indeed, challenged during a lecture to explain why the subordination of Ireland’s poor to English interests might also warrant use of the term slavery, he answered, “that if slavery existed here, it ought to be put down.” But, he insisted, “there was nothing like American slavery on the soil on which he now stood”.

After Douglass’s return to America, he resumed his fight against American slavery in the South and for full civil rights for black people living in the North. In that latter effort, Irish-Americans of the North’s cities often numbered among his staunchest opponents. In May 1863, speaking in Brooklyn, he observed, “I am told that the Irish element in this country is exceedingly strong, and that that element will never allow coloured men to stand upon an equal political footing with white men. I am pointed to the terrible outrages committed from time to time by Irishmen upon negroes. The mobs at Detroit, Chicago, Cincinnati, and New York are cited as proving the unconquerable aversion of the Irish toward the coloured race.”

Even so, to the end of his life, Douglass fondly remembered his 1840s lecture tour of Ireland and the welcoming reception he had been accorded. And though many Irish-Americans often opposed his civil rights efforts, he also viewed the Irish, in both Ireland and America, as a persecuted people. He even saw parallels between their plight and that of African Americans. Indeed, throughout his career, Douglass often invoked Daniel O’Connell and his struggles on behalf of Ireland as a cautionary tale for African Americans and, more broadly, the United States. In 1867, for instance, Douglass, in an Atlantic Monthly article observed that “what O’Connell said of the history of Ireland may with greater truth be said of the negro’s. It may be ‘traced like a wounded man through a crowd, by the blood.”

Moreover, during his sojourn in Ireland, Douglass had honed habits of independence, discretion, compromise, self-reliance and practical politics that served him over the coming decades. Those habits eventually empowered him to play his career’s most defining role on the stage of world history-providing counsel for and assisting President Lincoln’s elevation of the US military’s actions during the American civil war from a campaign to preserve the Union to a moral cause devoted to vanquishing American slavery.

— This article is adapted from the introduction to historian Tom Chaffin’s new book Giant’s Causeway: Frederick Douglass’s Irish Odyssey and the Making of an American Visionary (University of Virginia Press). Chaffin lives in Atlanta, Georgia. For more on Giant’s Causeway and his other books, go to —
Source: The Irish Times: Dublin’s Daily Newspaper. Posted 02-02-2015; retrieved 03-17-2016 (St. Patrick’s Day) from:

Frederick Douglass was able to move his audience … through an appeal to their better nature. People questioned their conscience and the standards of their community. He urged the world – of his day – to do better.

One man … made a difference! And this one man impacted his country … and the whole world.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” – Edmund Burke; 1729 – 1797; an Irish statesman and member of British Parliament.

The Go Lean/CU roadmap is designed to move the audience of Caribbean stakeholders, to make an impact on the region’s societal engines, corresponding with the prime directives, as follows:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

The focus of this commentary, Frederick Douglass’ legacy, is relevant for our life and times and the Go Lean prime directives. Notice the parallels: The institution of slavery was initiated for economic purposes. In addition, there was no consideration to security principles for the enslaved population. But for the relevance to the Go Lean book, the subject of consideration is one of governance, the need for technocratic stewardship of the regional Caribbean society. This point of governance against the backdrop of the legacy of slavery was pronounced early in the book, in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 10 – 14) with these declarations:

Preamble:  As the history of our region and the oppression, suppression and repression of its indigenous people is duly documented, there is no one alive who can be held accountable for the prior actions, and so we must put aside the shackles of systems of repression to instead formulate efficient and effective systems to steer our own destiny.

xi.   Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xii. Whereas the legacy in recent times in individual states may be that of ineffectual governance with no redress to higher authority, the accedence of this Federation will ensure accountability and escalation of the human and civil rights of the people for good governance, justice assurances, due process and the rule of law. As such, any threats of a “failed state” status for any member state must enact emergency measures on behalf of the Federation to protect the human, civil and property rights of the citizens, residents, allies, trading partners, and visitors of the affected member state and the Federation as a whole.

xxxiii. Whereas lessons can be learned and applied from the study of the recent history of other societies, the Federation must formalize statutes and organizational dimensions to avoid the pitfalls of [other] communities.

The Go Lean book stresses key community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies necessary to transform and turn-around the eco-systems of Caribbean society and learn the lessons from history. The book details the following:

Community Ethos – Economic Principles – Economic Systems Influence Individual Choices Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principles – Consequences of Choices Lie in the Future Page 21
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Foster Genius – Developing leadership genius Page 27
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision – Confederate all 30 member-states / 4 languages into aSingle Market Page 45
Strategy – Mission – Build and foster local economic engines Page 45
Tactical – Ways to Foster a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – Growing the Economy – Post WW II European Marshall Plan Model Page 68
Tactical – Separation-of-Powers – CU Federal Government versus Member-State Governance Page 71
Planning – 10 Big Ideas – Failed States Marshall Plan Page 127
Planning – Ways to Make the Caribbean Better Page 131
Planning – Ways to Improve Failed-State Indices – Local Government and the Social Contract Page 134
Planning – Lessons Learned from the previous West Indies Federation Page 135
Planning – Lessons Learned from Detroit – Turn-around from Failure Page 140
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Governance Page 168
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage the Social Contract Page 170
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Homeland Security Page 180
Advocacy – Ways to Impact the Diaspora Page 217
Advocacy – Ways to Preserve Caribbean Heritage Page 218
Advocacy – Ways to Protect Human Rights Page 220

Previous Go Lean blogs presented other lessons for the Caribbean to learn from considering history; the following previous blog/commentaries apply: A Lesson in History – Legacies: Cause and Effect A Lesson in History – Cinco De Mayo and the Mexican Experience A Lesson in History – Royal Charter: Zimbabwe -vs- South Africa A Lesson in History – Royal Charter: Empowering Families A Lesson in History – Royal Charter: Truth & Consequence A Lesson in History – The ‘Grand Old Party’ of American Politics A Lesson in History – Ireland’s Death And Diaspora Legacy A Lesson in History – Booker T versus Du Bois A Lesson in History – 100 Years Ago Today – World War I A Lesson in History – America’s War on the Caribbean

There is the effort to remediate American and European societies now. They recognize the futility of the actions of their ancestors and predecessors with the legacy of slavery. They are now battling to try and weed-out the last vestiges of racism and discrimination. This is good!

But …

… the Go Lean roadmap focuses on the Caribbean homeland only. It is out-of-scope to impact America, Europe or Ireland. Our quest is simple, the future, a 21st century effort to model Frederick Douglass and make the Caribbean region a better place to live, work and play.  🙂

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

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