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Frederick Douglass and Scotland, 1846Living an Antislavery Life$
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Alasdair Pettinger

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474444255

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474444255.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 26 May 2020

Douglass, Scott and Burns

Douglass, Scott and Burns

(p.105) Part III Douglass, Scott and Burns
Frederick Douglass and Scotland, 1846

Alasdair Pettinger

Edinburgh University Press

Douglass was an astute reader of two major Scottish writers, Walter Scott and Robert Burns. Familiarity with the first led him to adopt a historically-resonant Scottish surname, a choice he expected audiences in Scotland to appreciate; but he also appreciated how Scott’s narratives could be used to interpret the relationships between masters and the people they enslaved. Douglass also knew Burns’ work well and visited his birthplace in Ayr. And while he went on record as a great admirer, careful analysis of his speeches and letters suggest a more ambivalent assessment, which may owe something to the poet’s own ambiguous attitudes to abolitionism. The chapter closes with reflections on why Douglass might have preferred to associate himself with the ancient ‘Black Douglas’ rather than accept the designation as the ‘black O’Connell’, heir to the contemporary Irish leader Daniel O’Connell.

Keywords:   Ayr, Black Douglas, Burns, naming, reading, O’Connell, Scott

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