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The Political Thought of Frederick DouglassIn Pursuit of American Liberty$
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Nicholas Buccola

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814787113

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814787113.001.0001

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Frederick Douglass in the American Mind

(p.158) 7 Conclusion
The Political Thought of Frederick Douglass

Nicholas Buccola

NYU Press

This concluding chapter reflects on the debates over Douglass's legacy. Most interpreters have oversimplified Douglass's views and all attempts to draw contemporary conclusions from his nineteenth-century arguments should be chastened by a heavy dose of humility. And while it is hard to know what conclusions Douglass would come to in the philosophical and policy debates of today, we can say something about how the spirit of his thought might shape the lens through which we view contemporary political questions. Fundamentally, he directs us to think about the ways in which the liberal goal of securing the conditions necessary for the exercise of personal freedom depends upon the prevalence of a robust sense of mutual responsibility.

Keywords:   legacy, personal freedom, nineteenth century, philosophical debates, policy debates, contemporary politics, mutual responsibility, liberalism

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