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2011-04-13T00:00:00.000Z

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Background Information

Employment History

Teacher

New York University

Professor

NYU

Affiliations

Historian
New York University

Web References (8 Total References)


Frederick Douglass and the Fourth of ...

reason.com [cached]

Frederick Douglass and the Fourth of July , by James A. Colaiaco, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 256 pages, $24.95

...
In Frederick Douglass and the Fourth of July, the New York University historian James A. Colaiaco offers a compelling, if repetitive, account of this remarkable oration and the extraordinary individual behind it.
...
"An abolitionist manifesto," Colaiaco writes, "Douglass's oration would be the greatest abolition speech of the nineteenth century.
...
"Instead of congratulating them for having invited a black man to sing praises for the republic," Colaiaco writes, "he had them, along with millions of white Americans, bowing their heads in shame for tolerating slavery.
...
"For a short time," Colaiaco writes, "Douglass accepted the judgment of the Garrisonians, but he eventually forged ahead [believing] that black Americans must assume the responsibility of combating slavery with their own organizations and press."
...
Though Colaiaco places the most emphasis on Smith, a founding member of the abolitionist Liberty Party and a wealthy New York landowner whose patronage was crucial for many anti-slavery ventures, including The North Star, Spooner (1808-1887) also deserves special attention.


Declaration Foundation: Restoring America

www.declarationfoundation.org [cached]

A review of Frederick Douglass and the Fourth of July by James A. Colaiaco

...
Colaiaco, who teaches Great Books at New York University, argues that this speech was a crucial event in American history—the greatest of all abolitionist speeches.
To substantiate that judgment, Colaiaco elaborates on the ceremonial, judicial, and political qualities of Douglass's speech.
...
Colaiaco shows how Douglass became, after 1852, both more conservative and more radical in response to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Dred Scott ruling, and John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry.
...
Colaiaco directs attention away from racial identity, the focus of much recent scholarship on his subject, and back to Douglass's primary concern with understanding and advancing the principles of natural justice and liberal republicanism in America. The book's most interesting and provocative sections relate Douglass's arguments to alternatives that shared his commitment to natural rights but differed about how to secure them.
...
Colaiaco provides the most complete exposition yet of Douglass's constitutional abolitionism.
...
Identifying originalism with its grossly defective applications by Garrison and the Taney Court, Colaiaco gives too little attention to Douglass's sketch of a challenging originalist argument.
...
Most concretely, Colaiaco seems to accept Douglass's radical claim of a constitutionally delegated federal power to abolish slavery directly, instantly, everywhere in the country—a reading unendorsed by anyone who signed or ratified the Constitution and one whose implementation would surely have provoked immediate civil war.
Colaiaco's treatment of the relation between Douglass and Abraham Lincoln is also one-sided, giving Douglass the benefit of the doubt in all their disagreements.
...
But contrary to Colaiaco's repeated claim, Lincoln's prewar antislavery policy was not grounded in a passive hope that slavery, once confined, would eventually die a "natural death."


Washington Square News

www.washingtonsquarenews.com [cached]

"She is extremely intelligent, insightful, personable and motivated," said NYU professor James Colaiaco, who taught Pokrovskaia in his freshman Cultural Foundations class in the General Studies Program."[I'm] convinced that [Pokrovskaia] will be a leader in her chosen profession and make a positive contribution to society."

Despite occasional fatigue, Pokrovskaia shows no signs of slowing down."I come home, and I can barely move, but at the end of the day I go to sleep with a smile on my face," she said.


Declaration Foundation: Restoring America

www.declarationfoundation.com [cached]

A review of Frederick Douglass and the Fourth of July by James A. Colaiaco

...
Colaiaco, who teaches Great Books at New York University, argues that this speech was a crucial event in American history-the greatest of all abolitionist speeches.
To substantiate that judgment, Colaiaco elaborates on the ceremonial, judicial, and political qualities of Douglass's speech.
...
Colaiaco shows how Douglass became, after 1852, both more conservative and more radical in response to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Dred Scott ruling, and John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry.
...
Colaiaco directs attention away from racial identity, the focus of much recent scholarship on his subject, and back to Douglass's primary concern with understanding and advancing the principles of natural justice and liberal republicanism in America.The book's most interesting and provocative sections relate Douglass's arguments to alternatives that shared his commitment to natural rights but differed about how to secure them.
...
Colaiaco provides the most complete exposition yet of Douglass's constitutional abolitionism.
...
Identifying originalism with its grossly defective applications by Garrison and the Taney Court, Colaiaco gives too little attention to Douglass's sketch of a challenging originalist argument.
...
Most concretely, Colaiaco seems to accept Douglass's radical claim of a constitutionally delegated federal power to abolish slavery directly, instantly, everywhere in the country-a reading unendorsed by anyone who signed or ratified the Constitution and one whose implementation would surely have provoked immediate civil war.
Colaiaco's treatment of the relation between Douglass and Abraham Lincoln is also one-sided, giving Douglass the benefit of the doubt in all their disagreements.
...
But contrary to Colaiaco's repeated claim, Lincoln's prewar antislavery policy was not grounded in a passive hope that slavery, once confined, would eventually die a "natural death."


Frederick Douglass and the Fourth of ...

www.reason.com [cached]

Frederick Douglass and the Fourth of July , by James A. Colaiaco, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 256 pages, $24.95

...
In Frederick Douglass and the Fourth of July, the New York University historian James A. Colaiaco offers a compelling, if repetitive, account of this remarkable oration and the extraordinary individual behind it.
...
"An abolitionist manifesto," Colaiaco writes, "Douglass's oration would be the greatest abolition speech of the nineteenth century.
...
"Instead of congratulating them for having invited a black man to sing praises for the republic," Colaiaco writes, "he had them, along with millions of white Americans, bowing their heads in shame for tolerating slavery.
...
"For a short time," Colaiaco writes, "Douglass accepted the judgment of the Garrisonians, but he eventually forged ahead [believing] that black Americans must assume the responsibility of combating slavery with their own organizations and press."
...
Though Colaiaco places the most emphasis on Smith, a founding member of the abolitionist Liberty Party and a wealthy New York landowner whose patronage was crucial for many anti-slavery ventures, including The North Star, Spooner (1808-1887) also deserves special attention.
...
And Douglass, whom Colaiaco rightly celebrates for delivering "the greatest abolition speech of the nineteenth century," did more to popularize the idea of an anti-slavery Constitution than anyone else.

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