Multicultural American Exceptionalism in the Speeches of Frederick Douglass and Barack Obama
African American studies, ethnicity, identity, race, rhetoric
Howard Journal of Communications
In his Reconstruction-era speeches, Frederick Douglass faced a more complex rhetorical situation than prior to Emancipation: for the first time an African American man worked from within a major political party and to do this effectively Douglass pioneered a new kind of American exceptionalism rooted in America's “composite nationality” and founding social compact as well as his claim to a representative American identity. His rhetoric of Reconstruction contrasted with his ironic posture toward American principles in the era of slavery and the bitter period after “Southern Redemption,” but his constitution of self and nationhood formed an important model later adopted by Barack Obama. This article specifically examines Frederick Douglass's 1872 stump speeches, Barack Obama's 2008 stump speeches, “Recollections of the Antislavery Conflict” (1873), and “A More Perfect Union” (2008).
Department of Languages and Literatures
Original Publication Date
DOI of published version
UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa
Husband, Julie, "Multicultural American Exceptionalism in the Speeches of Frederick Douglass and Barack Obama" (2018). Faculty Publications. 688.