The Drunken Pat Argument

A fine piece by Adam Gopnik in this week’s New Yorker on Frederick Douglass indicates that there was tension between the movements to enfranchise women and blacks, with a remark on how anti-Irish sentiment was used by either side:

[Elizabeth Cady] Stanton, like her fellow-campaigner Susan B. Anthony, thought that Douglass failed to grasp that they were not a minority seeking protection by the ballot but a majority forever excluded from any exercise of political power, and declared that a government with the participation of black men as well as white men would merely “multiply the tyrants.” They were incensed by the condescension they detected in him. And both Douglass and Stanton felt free to use the Drunken Pat argument, asking why the feckless, inebriated Irish immigrant had the vote when—depending on who was arguing—black men or white women didn’t. None of it is to our taste: Douglass insulted women, Stanton insulted blacks, and both felt free to insult the Irish.

… As for the ethnic joking that pains Blight [David W. Blight author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, the book Gopnik is reviewing] it was an assertion of Americanness: no longer an outsider, Douglass could make after-dinner jokes about the Irish, right along with the rest of his countrymen.


About Uncomely and Broken

I am a classicist in Sewanee, Tennessee.
This entry was posted in Ireland, Race, Slavery, The South. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s