Readings of the Declaration of Independence and Frederick Douglass’s 1852 Oration
To mark Independence Day 2022, the Beinecke Library will renew the tradition of public readings on the library mezzanine of the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776, and of the oration by Frederick Douglass given on July 5, 1852, in Rochester, New York, in which he asked: “What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?” These readings will be accompanied by an exhibition of the first editions of both works, providing an opportunity to consider how their powerful words were put on paper to be shared across and beyond the United States.
Please note that seating is limited and will be available on a first-come basis. If you are unable to attend, we invite you to enjoy video of readings of the Declaration of Independence and Douglass’s Oration on the Beinecke Library YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2RblcHw
All who attend will be invited to enter fully into the spirit of the occasion, with respect for the founders, for Douglass, and for fellow audience members. There were no electronic devices when the Declaration was first read aloud in 1776. Douglass did not face competition with digital devices during his oration in 1852. All present for the readings will be kindly invited to silence and stow mobile phones, cameras, and other electronic devices, as their use would distract the readers and audience.
This event will follow public health protocols in place for the library. As of May 23, these include: COVID-19 vaccination (including a booster, if eligible) is required for visitors five and older. Please visit the library’s homepage for links to more information and details.