Historian and author Tom Chaffin presents GIANT'S CAUSEWAY, the first major narrative account of Frederick Douglass's seventeen month lecture tour of the British Isles, a journey that would prove pivotal in the life of America's foremost agitator.
GIANT'S CAUSEWAY shows how experiences under foreign skies helped Douglass hone habits of independence, discretion, compromise, self-reliance, and political dexterity. Along the way, it chronicles Douglass’s transformation from activist foot soldier to moral visionary.
In 1845, seven years after fleeing bondage in Maryland, Frederick Douglass was in his late twenties and already a celebrated lecturer across the northern United States. The recent publication of his groundbreaking "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave" had incited threats to his life, however, and to place himself out of harm's way he embarked on a lecture tour of the British Isles, a journey that would span seventeen months and change him as a man and a leader in the struggle for equality.
Drawn from hundreds of letters, diaries, and other primary-source documents- many heretofore unpublished- this far-reaching tale includes vivid portraits of personages who shaped Douglass and his world, including the Irish nationalists Daniel O'Connell and John Mitchel, British prime minister Robert Peel, abolitionist John Brown, and Abraham Lincoln.
It was, however, the Emerald Isle, above all, that affected Douglass, from its wild landscape to the plight of its people, with which he found parallels to that of African Americans. Possessed of an epic, transatlantic scope, Chaffin’s new book makes Douglass’s historic journey vivid for the modern reader and reveals how the former slave’s growing awareness of intersections between Irish, American, and African history shaped the rest of his life.
Tom Chaffin is the author of, among other books, "Sea of Gray: The Around-the-World Odyssey of the Confederate Raider Shenandoah" and "Pathfinder: John Charles Frémont and the Course of American Empire." His writings have also appeared in the "New York Times," the "Oxford American," "Time," "Harper's," and other publications. He lives in Atlanta.