Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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February 4th
Frederick Douglass Fights Back
Frederick Douglass was born a slave near Easton, Maryland, in February 1818 (the exact date is uncertain). A story from his youth sums up his courage in many ways. When he was sixteen years old, his master hired him out to a farmer named Edward Covey, who had a reputation for cruelty to slaves. Covey often whipped his new field hand until Douglass was, in his own words, “broken in body, soul, and spirit.”

One day Covey began to tie Douglass with a rope, intending to beat him again. “At this moment – from whence came the spirit, I don’t know – I resolved to fight,” Douglass later recalled. He  grabbed Covey by the throat and held off his blows. The two men fell to wrestling and rolling in a barnyard until finally Covey quit. Striking a white man could bring severe punishment, but Covey told no one of the fight – he did not want people to know he could not control a 16-year-old slave. He never tried to whip the boy again. “My long-crushed spirit rose,” Douglass remembered. “The day had passed forever when I could be a slave.”

Douglass eventually escaped to the North, where he became one of the nation’s most eloquent voices decrying the evils of slavery. After the Civil War he continued to write and speak for the rights of black Americans. Though often a fiery critic of his country, he was also a patriot who was determined to make it a better place. “No nation was ever called to the contemplation of a destiny more important and solemn than ours,” he wrote. He spent his life working for an America that offered “justice for all men, justice now and always, justice without reservation or qualification except those suggested by mercy and love.”

American History Parade
1789
The Electoral College chooses George Washington to be the first U.S. president.

1826
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper is published.

1861
Six Southern states form the Confederate States of America.

1932
The first Winter Olympics in the United States open in Lake Placid, New York.

1945
Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin meet at Yalta in the Crimea to discuss the post-WWII world.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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