Article Review

In his article, the author delves into historical perceptions of the
battle of Gettysburg back in 1863. The article provides a comprehensive
description of the New York’s riots and gives a detailed explanation
on disorientation of Frederick Douglas on his responsibility as a
recruiter in the war front (David, 2001). In addition, the article
plainly depicts how Frederick supported the black soldiers in their
efforts to fight for liberation and democracy by speaking out their
intention and purpose in the war. Blight describes Frederick as a
writer, reformer, an orator and statesman who looked into the welfare of
black soldiers and the discrimination subjected on them, in terms, of
unequal pay and misrepresentation in the Union forces (David, 2001). He
provides a succinct history on how he escaped from slavery and how he
later became an abolitionist movement leader, where he noticed his
exceptional oratory skills (David, 2001).
Evident from his work, David Blight centered his argument on endless
efforts made by Frederick Douglas. He depicts the hardships experienced
by black soldiers during the war, the unfair treatments, as well as
racial discrimination that watered down their attempts to the national
healing and reconciliation. In his article, David brings out another
primary argument regarding how Frederick gained recognition from Lincoln
ahead of his presidential elections. He further depicts how Lincoln
showed his respect to Frederick following his second inaugural speech.
The author capitalizes on the Memory of the Fifth –Fourth
Massachusetts by showing how black soldiers received ill treatments from
their commanders and the hardships associated with training black
soldiers (David, 2001).
Throughout the civil war, there was rampant prejudice on black soldiers
by their fellow white soldiers. The discrimination was so extensive that
even the civilians despised the black soldiers. Despite all the
injustices and abhorrence that were subjected on the black soldiers, the
black soldiers continued to fight with determination. Similarly, black
soldiers were given meager salaries and occasionally went out fighting
without supplies. However, these acts did not discourage them from
engaging in fighting instead, the soldiers became motivated by the
unfair treatments and hatred from their fellow white soldiers. According
to Blight, Douglas tries to clarify to the white commanders the motive
for black soldiers’ participation in the war. Further, he challenged
white commanders who tortured black soldiers instead of training them as
required for a soldier (David, 2001).
The author is consistent in his argument in giving tangible evidence
that involves comprehensive account of unfair treatment that black
soldiers received from their commanders. Blight depicts how sincere
Frederick was on his explanation of the motive and rationale behind
black soldiers’ participation in the war. He pointed out that the
black man fought for principle as opposed to fascination or brutality.
Frederick also depicts how the black soldiers were not driven by hatred
or prejudice during the war, as opposed to the white men, who were
filled with racism and preoccupied by war (David, 2001).
Throughout the war period, Frederick had won the confidence of many and
established good rapport at every location. During the war, he had
identified himself with several leaders especially from England and
Ireland, and he was celebrated for his outstanding oratory skills and
eloquence. In the Fifth-Fourth Massachusetts, Frederick took the role of
a recruiter. Similarly, his son also took the same role nevertheless,
the abolitionist leader could not figure out why the black soldiers were
discriminated against and received unequal pay (David, 2001).
Some of the strengths in the article that the author has brought forward
comprised of dramatic and comprehensive description of how unfairly the
black soldiers were treated during the war the article explains this
clearly. The author also shows how it was hard to train black soldiers,
which was the reason that made them incompetent in the war front. On the
other hand, there are weaknesses in the article as the author delves so
much on the difficulties encountered by the black soldiers. Therefore,
the author neglects some important scenarios that happened in the course
of the war. Some of these scenarios comprise of the contribution of
Lincoln towards the war. Although the article mentions numerous roles
played by Lincoln, it does not provide details regarding his
relationship with Frederick. This relationship was crucial as it paved
the way for liberation in America. However, Blight is able to show how
the white soldiers united with their fellow black soldiers in bringing
democracy to America (David, 2001).
In conclusion, the contribution of Frederick Douglass in the
Fifth-Fourth Massachusetts enabled Blight ascertain the importance of
the civil war. The article depicts Frederick as a leader, an orator, as
well as a fighter (David, 2001). Blight has managed to put together all
these characteristic of Frederick to reveal his character that gave
meaning to the Fifth-Fourth Massachusetts and show the relevance of the
civil war. Also in the article, Blight helps the readers to get
appreciation for Frederick and admire his contribution in bringing
liberty in America.
David, D.B. (2001). Frederick Douglass` Civil War. Keeping Faith in
Jubilee, 2 (4): 12.