“Those who struck at the nation’s life, and those who struck to save it”

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895). Address at the Graves of the Unknown Dead at Arlington, Virginia, May 30, 1871. Frederick Douglass Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

We are sometimes asked, in the name of patriotism, to forget the merits of this fearful struggle, and to remember, with equal admiration, those who struck at the nation’s life, and those who struck to save it—those who fought for slavery, and those who fought for liberty and justice. I am no minister of malice. I would not strike the fallen. I would not repel the repentent, but may my right hand forget its cunning, and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I forget the difference between the parties to that terrible, protracted, and bloody conflict.

This blog complements the Library of Congress exhibition, “The Civil War in America.” This series of posts chronicles the sacrifices and accomplishments of those—from both the North and South—whose lives were lost or affected by the events of 1861–1865. To learn more about the object featured in this blog entry, visit the online exhibition.