[Plura-list] What to the Slave Is the 4th of July

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Sat Jul 4 11:21:17 EDT 2020

Today's links

* What to the Slave Is the 4th of July: Scan of the original 1852 pamphlet.

* This day in history: 2010, 2015, 2019

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming appearances, current writing
projects, current reading


👩🏿‍🎨 What to the Slave Is the 4th of July

I'm not American. For the first half of my life, my touchstone for Jul 4
was the Schoolhouse Rock "Fireworks" segment that leaked over the border
from Buffalo through Fox 29's UHF signal.


When it came to how Americans had observed Jul 4 through history, my
impressions came from whitewashed pop culture like Disney's Carousel of


All that changed when I discovered Frederick Douglass's 1852 "What to
the Slave Is the 4th of July?" - such a stirring piece of rhetoric that
it practically leaps off the page.


Today's Public Domain Review embeds the Internet Archive's gorgeous scan
of the original 1852 pamphlet that was sold through Frederick Douglass'
Paper (AKA The North Star) and to the attendees in Rochester's
Corinthian Hall on that fateful night.


Beyond that, the Review provides some much-needed context for the 19th
Century Black experience of Jul 4, and the rival holiday, Jul 5, which
commemorated the full abolishment of slavery in New York in 1827.

The speech's original title highlights the two holidays' divergence:
"What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?" Jul 4
celebrations - and other public observances - were often accompanied by
drunken white mobs attacking Black people and Black-owned businesses.

Black Americans celebrated Jul 5 with parades in New York, Boston,
Philadelphia and elsewhere.

Douglass refused to give his speech on the 4th and instead gave it on
the 5th, to a full house of 600 mostly white abolitionists, who bought
700+ copies of the pamphlet afterward.

Douglass labored over the speech for weeks and afterward wrote to an
abolitionist to say that he thought it had gone over well. You can read
the plain text of the speech here:



👩🏿‍🎨 This day in history

#10yrsago Econopocalypse: the Marxist animated whiteboard explanation

#10yrsago Copyright scholars talk Copyright Termination

#5yrsago Fantasy Sports: dungeon crawl ends in epic, eldritch basketball
game https://boingboing.net/2015/07/04/fantasy-sports-dungeon-crawl.html

#5yrsago Hey, kids, let's play militarized police force!

#5yrsago When Firms Become Persons and Persons Become Firms: outstanding
lecture http://www.lse.ac.uk/lse-player?id=3154

#1yrago Appeals court orders unsealing of the Jeffrey Epstein files


👩🏿‍🎨 Colophon

Today's top sources:

Currently writing:

* My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and
reconciliation. Friday's progress: 535 words (34486 total).

Currently reading: Anger Is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

Latest podcast: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (part 08)

Upcoming appearances:

* In Conversation with Hank Green, Jul 10,

Upcoming books: "Poesy the Monster Slayer" (Jul 2020), a picture book
about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed
copy here:

"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020.

"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies

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*When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla* -Joey "Accordion Guy"

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