Thirteen years before the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Frederick Douglas was invited to make a speech in New York on the Fourth of July, 1852. He pulled no punches.
"Do you mean citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?
"What -- to the American slave -- is the Fourth of July? I answer: A day that reveals to him, more than all the other days in the year, the gross cruelty and injustice to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity. Your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless. Your denunciations of tyrants, brash-fronted impudence. Your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery. Your prayers and hymns, your sermons and Thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety and hypocrisy. A thin veil, to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.
"There is not a nation on the Earth more guilty of practices so shocking and bloody as are the people of the United States at this very hour. Go where you may. Search where you will. Roam through all the monarchies and depostisms of the old world, travel though South America, search out every abuse, and when you've found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this Nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, American reigns without rival."