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"We Are Men!": Frederick Douglass and the Fault Lines of Gendered Citizenship

"We Are Men!": Frederick Douglass and the Fault Lines of Gendered Citizenship a . k r ist en fost er “We Are Men!” Frederick Douglass and the Fault Lines of Gendered Citizenship Some might argue that Frederick Douglass suff ers from historical over- exposure. He has been the subject of numerous biographies. His life has unfolded in documentaries, in children’s books, and on Hollywood’s sil- ver screen. Any bibliographical search will turn up studies of Douglass the quintessential American, Douglass the radical, the millennialist, the pragmatist, the assimilationist, the activist, even the foil of angry emigra- tionists. What more can Frederick Douglass tell us? If, in fact, we consider his work in the context of older questions about race and newer questions about gender and violence, we might fi nd that he had some important things to say about American citizenship. While he consistently claimed that he supported the concept of universal rights, he was never able to shed the belief that male and female citizenship were qualitatively diff er- ent in the United States. Working from an antebellum context in which citizenship remained a diff use cultural concept and debates formed more readily around common law defi nitions of rights, Douglass slowly devel- oped his own theory of citizenship based http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Journal of the Civil War Era University of North Carolina Press

"We Are Men!": Frederick Douglass and the Fault Lines of Gendered Citizenship

The Journal of the Civil War Era , Volume 1 (2) – Jun 3, 2011

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright @ The University of North Carolina Press
ISSN
2159-9807

Abstract

a . k r ist en fost er “We Are Men!” Frederick Douglass and the Fault Lines of Gendered Citizenship Some might argue that Frederick Douglass suff ers from historical over- exposure. He has been the subject of numerous biographies. His life has unfolded in documentaries, in children’s books, and on Hollywood’s sil- ver screen. Any bibliographical search will turn up studies of Douglass the quintessential American, Douglass the radical, the millennialist, the pragmatist, the assimilationist, the activist, even the foil of angry emigra- tionists. What more can Frederick Douglass tell us? If, in fact, we consider his work in the context of older questions about race and newer questions about gender and violence, we might fi nd that he had some important things to say about American citizenship. While he consistently claimed that he supported the concept of universal rights, he was never able to shed the belief that male and female citizenship were qualitatively diff er- ent in the United States. Working from an antebellum context in which citizenship remained a diff use cultural concept and debates formed more readily around common law defi nitions of rights, Douglass slowly devel- oped his own theory of citizenship based

Journal

The Journal of the Civil War EraUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jun 3, 2011

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