Essay on The Radical And The Republican

Essay on The Radical And The Republican

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Kennedy Jackson
Mr. Smith
AP US History
29 August 2016

The Radical and the Republican
by James Oakes

James Oakes’ The Radical and the Republican narrated the relationship between two of America’s greatest leaders: Frederick Douglass, the “radical” abolitionist, and Abraham Lincoln, the “Republican” politician. He did an astonishing job of demonstrating the commonalities between the views of Douglass and Lincoln, but also their differences on their stance of anti-slavery politics and abolitionism. Despite being on the same side of the argument of slavery, Douglass and Lincoln went about their opinions separately. Lincoln held a more patient and orthodox stance on anti-slavery, while Douglass was proven to be obstinate and direct with his hatred of slavocracy. Oakes even described that Lincoln “took to position himself as a conservative” (p. 109) as opposed to Douglass’ “uncompromising reformer” (p. 109) personality.
The Radical and the Republican proposes the dynamics in the way Douglass and Lincoln approached issues regarding the immorality of slavery. At the beginning of Abraham Lincoln’s political career, he appeared more reserved and Douglass the exact opposite. As The Radical and the Republican progresses chapter after chapter, encounter after encounter, Douglass and Lincoln eventually swap muses. Lincoln becomes the emancipator, and Douglass becomes the logistics, as opposed to Lincoln relying on conservatism and Douglass on radicalism. Their goal for a slave-free and equality future left them with no choice other than to collaborate. Although their work together was somewhat brief, many believe Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln left the most apparent impact on America’s history as a pair.
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... things would be ‘had Mr. Lincoln been living today’.” (p. 262). It is hard to imagine the pre-war Douglass to have said something like that as opposed to an older, much more reserved Douglass. With the abolishment of slavery, so came much discrimination. Without Lincoln beside Douglass, it was much harder for Douglass to progress and put inequality in its grave. As Oakes said in his final chapter, “For Frederick Douglass, the memory [of Abraham Lincoln] was something else entirely; Lincoln was his bludgeon, his sledgehammer, the destructive weapon Douglass wielded as he charged back onto the battle against the regrouping forces of injustice and inequality” (p. 288). Even with considering their major polarities and inconsistencies with each other’s methods, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln will forever remain as two of America’s greatest speakers and leaders.

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