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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. kristen foster Some might argue that Frederick Douglass suffers from historical overexposure. He has been the subject of numerous biographies. His life has unfolded in documentaries, in children's books, and on Hollywood's silver 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 emigrationists. 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 find 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 different 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 definitions of rights, Douglass slowly developed his own theory of citizenship based on his experiences in the abolition movement, the women's rights movement, and the Civil War. Arguing initially that the American Revolution had bequeathed a series 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
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Copyright © University of North Carolina Press
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2159-9807
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Abstract

a. kristen foster Some might argue that Frederick Douglass suffers from historical overexposure. He has been the subject of numerous biographies. His life has unfolded in documentaries, in children's books, and on Hollywood's silver 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 emigrationists. 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 find 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 different 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 definitions of rights, Douglass slowly developed his own theory of citizenship based on his experiences in the abolition movement, the women's rights movement, and the Civil War. Arguing initially that the American Revolution had bequeathed a series

Journal

The Journal of the Civil War EraUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jun 3, 2011

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