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University of Nevada-Las Vegas: Frederick Douglass, the Making of an American

February 23, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

On February 23, 2022, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas’s Great Works Academic Certificate Program hosted JMC faculty partner Lucas Morel for an in-person/virtual lecture on Frederick Douglass’s life and character:

Professor Morel will explore how a man who had every reason to hate America became one of the nation’s strongest defenders. Born into slavery, Douglass eventually escaped and devoted his adult life to abolishing slavery and promoting the equal protection of the laws for all Americans, regardless of race or sex. Early in his career as an abolition speaker, Douglass declared, “I have no love for America. I have no patriotism. I have no country. What country have I? The institutions of this country do not know me, do not recognize me as a man.” Those institutions were the major shapers of American life: the church, the government—and the Constitution.

But he did not hold that position for long. Douglass eventually claimed America as his country, calling the principles of the Declaration of Independence “saving principles,” and interpreting the Constitution as “a glorious liberty document.” He found that reading the Constitution as a pro-slavery document contradicted its preamble and overlooked its principles and mechanisms of freedom. Douglass also noticed that the Constitution never used the word “slavery,” and it permitted Congress to ban the importation of slaves in twenty years—which it did. Douglass concluded that it “leans to freedom, not slavery, and looked to the abolition of slavery rather than to its perpetuity.” Through speeches and newspaper editorials that spanned half a century, Douglass joined a vanguard of blacks and whites in the struggle to align this nation’s practices with its noblest professions.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022 • 7:00 PM PST
John S. Wright Hall, Room 144 • University of Nevada-Las Vegas

Free and open to the public.
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Lucas Morel headshotLucas Morel is the John K. Boardman, Jr. Professor of Politics and Head of the Politics Department at Washington and Lee University. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Claremont Graduate University. His research interests include Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Ralph Ellison. Professor Morel is former president of the Abraham Lincoln Institute, a consultant on Library of Congress exhibits on Lincoln and the Civil War, and currently serves on the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, which will plan activities to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States of America. He is the author/editor of several books, most recently authoring Lincoln and the American Founding (2020). Additionally, Professor Morel teaches in the Master’s Program in American History and Government at Ashland University in  Ohio, summer programs for the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, and high school teacher workshops sponsored by the Gilder-Lehrman Institute, the John M. Ashbrook Center, the Jack Miller Center, and the Liberty Fund.

Learn more about Lucas E. Morel >>



The Great Works Academic Certificate Program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas provides students with an opportunity to take part in a conversation with some of the best thinkers of all time. The study of great works in philosophy, politics, literature, sciences, religion, and the fine arts encourages critical thinking. Such study confronts what it means to be human and thus immeasurably enhances a person’s daily life. The program also gives students who want to pursue graduate education early experience in grappling with original works of theory and literature such as they will inevitably encounter in graduate school.

Learn more about the Great Works Academic Certificate Program >>



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