“You have emancipated us. You have enfranchised us. And I thank you for it. But what is your emancipation—what is your enfranchisement if the black man is unable to exercise that freedom? You have turned us loose to the sky, to the storm, to the whirlwind, and worst of all, you have turned us loose to our infuriated masters. The question now is, do you mean to make good to us the promises in your constitution?”—Frederick Douglass, 1876
In this speech, Douglass called on the Republican Party—the party of Abraham Lincoln—to make good on the promises of Reconstruction. Much progress had been made in the struggle for black freedom and equality in the years after the Civil War. But there were also bruising setbacks. Southern white Democrats used threats and violence to oust black office holders and stop black men from voting. White elected officials in the north turned their attention to a crippling economic depression. Some were tired of the South's troubles, others believed that black people had been given enough. Douglass reminded them of the ongoing struggle and injustices.