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What to a Slave Is the 4th of July

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“What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July? ” The Fourth of July is a time in which Americans can celebrate their independence and freedom. In 1852, Frederick Douglass delivered a speech titled, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July” at the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society in Rochester, NY. Douglass, a former slave, was invited to speak on July 5th. Douglass uses this opportunity to voice a major concern of his – the abolition of slavery. His powerful use of rhetoric must have captivated his audience.

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Douglass’ most convincing points are when he uses language to separate himself from America’s most patriotic holiday, and how he later uses pronouns to unite with his audience to give America a sense of hope for change. Douglass begins his speech by telling his audience how nervous he is. This is partly because he claimed to not have a prepared speech. In the beginning of his speech, he separates himself from White America and those who celebrate the Fourth of July.

He does this by describing freedom as “yours” instead of “ours”: “It is the birthday of your National Independence and of your political freedom” (Douglass 498).

Douglass uses these pronouns in this political way throughout the first half of his speech. It is a very effective rhetorical device. He emphasizes the fact that it is the day of their independence, not his. Douglass is correct when he says this because it really is not his day. He was a former slave and thousands of African Americans still desired independence from their owners. It is brilliant of him because this technique holds the attention of his listeners. Douglass reminds his audience of what their forefathers fought for – freedom.

Douglass states, “They were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression” (501). Our forefathers still fought for their freedom and their ultimate goal was revolution. To the slave, the Fourth of July is just another reminder of the hypocrisy of this day (506). Douglass firmly believes that Americans need to take action. He emphasizes that America and its freedom do not belong to him since slavery is still in effect.

Douglass wants slaves to be treated like men. He believes that they deserve the same rights of freedom, liberty, justice, and equality as every white American. Douglass later transitions to “The Present” part of his speech. This is where he begins to shift his pronoun usage to “my” and “ours”. Douglass uses this language to connect with his audience. He seizes the moment and gives his audience a sense of hope. Douglass says, with a sense of urgency, “For it is not light that is needed, but fire: it is not the gentle shower, but thunder.

We need the storm, this whirlwind, and the earthquake” (506). This quote shows how Douglass wants slavery to end immediately, but knows that it is not a feasible task. In another brilliant rhetorical device, Douglass compares the United States to a stream that can still change its course, as oppose to a river embedded in the landscape. Streams may not be turned aside, but they can dry up (499). Douglass believes that much like a stream changing course, so can America’s ways. Douglass leaves his audience with a message of hope.

By describing the disparities between Blacks and Whites, he provides his audience with good reason to convince their husbands, brothers, or sons to vote against slavery. His goal was to raise awareness of this abominable crime against humanity. Much like RFK, Douglass sent forth a ripple of hope to his audience. All major movements start with hope and faith in change. His powerful language enlightens the reader and influences his audience to convince their husbands, brothers, or sons. By disassociating himself with this holiday, he expresses his disdain for slavery and the inequalities in America.

Later in his speech he includes himself when he says ‘our’ to show how they need to work together to provide hope and initiate change. Douglass’ speech may not have made an immediate impact on abolishing slavery, but it did increase the cognizance of it. About fifteen years later, slavery was abolished. Through raising awareness and having hope, anything can be accomplished. Works Cited: Douglass, Frederick. “What is to the slave is the 4th of July? ” The Presence of Others. Andrea A. ……. Lunsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz. Boston: St.

Martin’s 5th Edition, 2008. 497-508. Print. “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July? ” The Fourth of July is a time in which Americans can celebrate their independence and freedom. In 1852, Frederick Douglass delivered a speech titled, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July” at the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society in Rochester, NY. Douglass, a former slave, was invited to speak on July 5th. Douglass uses this opportunity to voice a major concern of his – the abolition of slavery. His powerful use of rhetoric must have captivated his audience.

Douglass’ most convincing points are when he uses language to separate himself from America’s most patriotic holiday, and how he later uses pronouns to unite with his audience to give America a sense of hope for change. Douglass begins his speech by telling his audience how nervous he is. This is partly because he claimed to not have a prepared speech. In the beginning of his speech, he separates himself from White America and those who celebrate the Fourth of July. He does this by describing freedom as “yours” instead of “ours”: “It is the birthday of your National Independence and of your political freedom” (Douglass 498).

Douglass uses these pronouns in this political way throughout the first half of his speech. It is a very effective rhetorical device. He emphasizes the fact that it is the day of their independence, not his. Douglass is correct when he says this because it really is not his day. He was a former slave and thousands of African Americans still desired independence from their owners. It is brilliant of him because this technique holds the attention of his listeners. Douglass reminds his audience of what their forefathers fought for – freedom.

Douglass states, “They were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression” (501). Our forefathers still fought for their freedom and their ultimate goal was revolution. To the slave, the Fourth of July is just another reminder of the hypocrisy of this day (506). Douglass firmly believes that Americans need to take action. He emphasizes that America and its freedom do not belong to him since slavery is still in effect.

Douglass wants slaves to be treated like men. He believes that they deserve the same rights of freedom, liberty, justice, and equality as every white American. Douglass later transitions to “The Present” part of his speech. This is where he begins to shift his pronoun usage to “my” and “ours”. Douglass uses this language to connect with his audience. He seizes the moment and gives his audience a sense of hope. Douglass says, with a sense of urgency, “For it is not light that is needed, but fire: it is not the gentle shower, but thunder.

We need the storm, this whirlwind, and the earthquake” (506). This quote shows how Douglass wants slavery to end immediately, but knows that it is not a feasible task. In another brilliant rhetorical device, Douglass compares the United States to a stream that can still change its course, as oppose to a river embedded in the landscape. Streams may not be turned aside, but they can dry up (499). Douglass believes that much like a stream changing course, so can America’s ways. Douglass leaves his audience with a message of hope.

By describing the disparities between Blacks and Whites, he provides his audience with good reason to convince their husbands, brothers, or sons to vote against slavery. His goal was to raise awareness of this abominable crime against humanity. Much like RFK, Douglass sent forth a ripple of hope to his audience. All major movements start with hope and faith in change. His powerful language enlightens the reader and influences his audience to convince their husbands, brothers, or sons. By disassociating himself with this holiday, he expresses his disdain for slavery and the inequalities in America.

Later in his speech he includes himself when he says ‘our’ to show how they need to work together to provide hope and initiate change. Douglass’ speech may not have made an immediate impact on abolishing slavery, but it did increase the cognizance of it. About fifteen years later, slavery was abolished. Through raising awareness and having hope, anything can be accomplished. Works Cited: Douglass, Frederick. “What is to the slave is the 4th of July? ” The Presence of Others. Andrea A. ……. Lunsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz. Boston: St. Martin’s 5th Edition, 2008. 497-508. Print.

Cite this What to a Slave Is the 4th of July

What to a Slave Is the 4th of July. (2016, Oct 29). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/what-to-a-slave-is-the-4th-of-july/

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