The Southern Exodus, (4 May 1879) Baltimore, MD

“The Southern Exodus,” delivered May 4, 1879, Douglass, Frederick (1818-1895)

Three known versions of Douglass’s “The Southern Exodus” speech exist and the two published in the Baltimore press are quite different. The Baltimore American text is used in this unit because it reads as the delivered speech text. Douglass begins the Baltimore American speech by admitting that he left his “manuscript” at home [1]. Our assumption is that the Baltimore American text reflects the delivered text and the Baltimore Sun text reflects the manuscript he wrote for the event. Copy-text (C) is an authenticated version created by the co-editors of the Douglass papers, John W. Blassingame and John R. McKivigan. For this unit, segments from copy-text (B) were integrated into copy-text (A) because they elaborated Douglass’s ideas about the Exoduster movement. Even if Douglass did not deliver them during the Baltimore speech, we gain insight from his written words. We also used copy-text (B) in creating paragraph breaks, which were numbered and added in brackets. Italics were preserved from copy-text (A). Copy-text (A) included headings that were capitalized in the speech. Such capitalizations were preserved. Such headings were part of the prose of the speech. We integrated the headings into the flow of the speech for ease of reading rather than follow the format of the Baltimore American that featured them as headings that were centered and set apart from the paragraphs.

Douglass, Frederick, “Marshal Douglass, His Interesting Lecture at Centennial Colored M.E. Church: The Southern Exodus,” Baltimore American, May 4, 1879. (=A)

Douglass, Frederick, “Fred. Douglass on Whites and Blacks: His Opposition to Colored Exodus From the South,” Baltimore Sun, May 4, 1879. (=B)

Blassingame, John W., and John R. McKivigan, eds.,“The South Knows Us: An Address Delivered in Baltimore, Maryland,” May 4, 1879.” In The Frederick Douglass Papers, Series One: Speeches, Debates, and Interviews, Vol. 4—1864-1880 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1991): 496-503. (=C)

Copy-text (A) has been thoroughly checked and proofread. The speech was recovered by Shawn J. Parry-Giles with help from the library staff at McKeldin Library, University of Maryland, College Park. It was transcribed by Frieda Greenthal and the transcript was proofread by David O’Donoghue and Shawn J. Parry-Giles.

As transcribed, we have used double quotation marks to designate when Frederick Douglass was quoting passages from others.

The following represent departures from copy-text (A) where we used wording from copy-text (B).

2: as a humble watchman, looking out from my watch-tower B: an humble watcher A

2: Christianity B: christianity A

6: [S]ome of them will want to go to Congress; rival ambitions will spring up; they will apprehend that this is a nation, not a league of States, that great as may be a State of the United States is greater; that it is idle, wrong and mischievous to disregard the constitution, and apprehending this they will say if the colored people want to uphold this standard we will help them or die in the track B: paragraph missing A

8: We will never change our relations to the white people until we become more economical stick to our employment and live within our means.  If you do people will respect you.  Other races, notably the Jews and the Quakers, worse situated than you are, have fought their way up.  The question is, will the colored man be as good a servant to himself as he was to his master?  We must be truthful and honest.  We are religious and want to shun the wrath to come, but what we need is absolute truthfulness of character.  A lie is only intended to deceive, and when it ceases to fulfill its purpose it is of no value to the liar.  Slavery taught us to steal, but we know it is wrong and destroys the motive of those around to acquire anything.  The pulpit must not keep us on the high wave of Apocalyptic vision, but on the rock of practical righteousness.  I want when I lay down my life to say that I have seen my people, once ignorant, now intelligent; once degraded, now elevated; once despised, now honored.  I see the elements at work for us, and in every bar of iron, every ship and locomotive, the electric wire and the telephone, there are certain signs of the ultimate success of our race in this mighty nation B: paragraph missing A

We also substituted Douglass’s use of the words “negro” and “nigger” (copy-text (A) with “colored man,” “colored people,” and “colored” (copy-text (B) because we used the identity markers Douglass arguably intended to use that were reflected in what we treat as a written manuscript (Baltimore Sun).