"This was a rhetorical device, however, used to set up the glaring contrast between what the founders did for themselves and the condition of black people at that time. In 1776, he noted, many people viewed George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and the others as dangerous subversives and insurgent upstarts despite British tyranny.
"However, with the hindsight of 1852, he said, it was no longer problematic to see 'that America was right, and England wrong.'
"Likewise, Douglass noted, in 1852, abolitionism was considered a dangerous and subversive political proposition. The implication here was that future generations would consider his anti-slavery stance patriotic, just, reasonable—and necessary."
Herbert Dyer, Jr., in Counterpunch discusses Frederick Douglass's "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro."
Christopher Wilson in Smithsonian investigates "The Star-Spangled Banner" and the life of Francis Scott Key.
And Robert G. Parkinson in The New York Times looks at slavery, Native Americans, and the Declaration of Independence.
James Livingston reponds to Parkinson at Politics and Letters.