"What shall be done with the four million slaves if they are emancipated? ... Primarily, it is a question less for man than for God -- less for human intellect than for the laws of nature to solve. It assumes that nature has erred; that the law of liberty is a mistake; that freedom, though a natural want of the human soul, can only be enjoyed at the expense of human welfare, and that men are better off in slavery than they would or could be in freedom; that slavery is the natural order of human relations, and that liberty is an experiment. What shall be done with them? Our answer is, do nothing with them; mind your business, and let them mind theirs. Your doing with them is their greatest misfortune. They have been undone by your doings, and all they now ask, and really have need of at your hands, is just to let them alone. They suffer by every interference, and succeed best by being let alone."
by:
Frederick Douglass
[Frederick Baily] (1818-1895), escaped slave, Abolitionist, author, editor of the North Star and later the New National Era
Source:
What Shall Be Done With The Slaves If Emancipated? Douglass' Monthly, January, 1862
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Reader comments about this quote:
Every program for them has been an expensive failure.
 -- cal, lewisville, TX     
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    Cal is right and you could add that almost every government program has been an expensive failure. Of course, when one fails just throw more money at it.
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
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    We all do better when left alone, without the government meddling in our affairs
     -- Tom, Jacksonville FL     
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    WOW, ABSOLUTELY ! ! ! Now there are over three hundred million plus, of all color, needing emancipaton. They suffer by every interference, and succeed best by being let alone. Let 'We The People' alone ! Now that the full Congress (Senate and House) has declared open war, by statute, on 'We The People', along with all the other occupying statist theocracy infesting this land's enslaving amendments, treaties, regulations, statutes, etc., the gross injustices of the past are going to pale in comparison the the blood bath that is surely about to come.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Sounds good but is not reality. If we would have been left alone as Mike would have it there would have been no state requirements for schooling and thus a reading population, no disease control etc. Examples abound. Mike would turn us back to the middle ages of ignorance, plague, and society of supersition and disregard for science.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Waffler, how very sad is your comment. You cannot even conceive of our country without the "benefits" of state schooling, when illiteracy was almost nonexistent or of "disease control" when even the humblest households made sure that their children were immunized without government involvement. Eileen, Dover
     -- Eileen Williams, Dover NH     
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    To Cal, of Lewisville, Texas, who wrote: "Every program for them has been an expensive failure," do you mean programs like hundreds of years of slavery? Slavery, after all, was for THEIR benefit, wasn't it? If every program has been a failure, perhaps it is because they were designed to fail and were created only to assuage the guilt of the few who still had some semblace of conscience and humanity. Without changing their moral core, how could any program designed by the 'masters' benefit those whom they enslaved and despised and from whose labor they benefitted both materially and psychologically for centuries? Get a grip!
     -- Anonymous, Columbia, SC     
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    The reply of Eileen Williams of Dover, NH to Waffler is not only [as she put it] "sad," but gossly misinformed. In fact, it was only after the Civil War -- and based heavily upon the efforts of the newly freed blacks -- that public education came to be. Before that, most WHITE people couldn't read or write, but only the wealthy elite. I won't even delve into the lie about the 'household immunization programs'. What arrogant ignorance -- or ignorant arrogance!.
     -- LAC, III, Columbia, SC     
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    LAC III, Eileen was correct while you just spout non-substnative liberal rhetoric. The land that became the U.S. was originally populated most often by those seeking religious freedom. Part of coming to the new land meant teaching the children (in all topics). The Puritans, Congregationalist, Catholics and others began their own educational systems. Others taught their children at home. By the war of independence, with very few public schools, The U.S. had one of the highest known literacy rates in the world. The later arrivals, including foreigner and Mormon arrivals, continued and expanded on the high educational traditions. The likes of Washington and Jefferson wanted to fill in the gaps where home or religious schooling didn't get everyone. Jefferson, even placed the bible as one of the required readings for a formal public education. In the late 1830s, early 40s, a Fabian Socialist movement propagated statist applications, such as police departments in Boston, New, York, and Philadelphia (never existing before in the U.S. as they were considered standing armies to enforce a foreign despots tyranny) and, many lies, such as literacy rates (WHITE people couldn't read or write, but only the wealthy elite), to implement dogma based education to the masses. With the events of war between the States, and mass migrations, unstable conditions subdued the traditional education systems for a brief time. With the advent of the statist theocracy proponents winning the war between the States, the traditional educational systems that made the U.S. the most literate nation on the planet was forcefully superseded by government schools. Upon the occupying statist theocracy's establishment of the D.O.E., education in the Union of Socialist Amerika has declined regularly. Schools such as Harvard, that were originally established as a religious entity, have more home and private school students in their advanced degree programs than public school graduates.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    LAC III, Again, "sad" to not be able to read "household" instead of "household programs." That is the point. There were no "programs" simply parents who saw to it that their children were immunized and did so eagerly. Eileen, Dover
     -- Eileen Williams, Dover NH     
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