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“The President and the Freedom Fighter” explores friendship between Lincoln, Douglass

A new book looks at the friendship between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass as they sought to end slavery.

Brian Kilmeade, cohost of “Fox and Friends,” is the author of “The President and the Freedom Fighter: Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and Their Battle to Save America’s Soul.” Both men had to overcome huge adversity, especially Douglass, who was born a slave.

“Born a slave and literally sold, and then after one failed escape, Douglass finally gets out and was able to live his life and, remarkably, within seven years is writing a biography and becomes one of the most respected intellects and speakers in the world.” Kilmeade said.

Lincoln was born Feb. 12, 1809 into abject poverty. His parents were illiterate.

“And then you have Lincoln who was basically a self-taught guy,” he said. “They had a lot of similarities. They had a thirst for education. They were going to find a way out somehow, some way. They were going to barter, do work for a book, just a chance to read and learn about a story. They were buried in the Bible and great thinkers their entire lives.”

Despite their similarities though, there also were deep differences, most notably, how to approach the most pressing issue of the day — slavery. Through time, the men came to respect one another and even form a friendship.

“It was timing and people would be pushing Lincoln to do it,” Kilmeade said. “He’s like, ‘I’m not ready.’ Then he realized, ‘We need a big win. After that big win, I’m not only going to come out with the Emancipation Proclamation, I’m going to allow African Americans to fight for their freedom.'”

Is there a lesson in this story for Americans today?

“They wanted to make America better,” he said. “So they studied the Founding Fathers, they studied where we came from and they said, `OK, my country is imperfect, so let’s make it better, right? Let’s not disparage it. Let’s do it in a way, you know, call it out but make it better.”

–Dwight Widaman | MV

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