For white men, this is a day of gratification and happiness as All men(according to the Declaration of Independence) could escape the oppressive British control and live freely on new land, but for many African-Americans, including Douglass, this is a day of exile, pain, anguish, isolation, and deprivation. For the millions of white Americans, this “anniversary” is for them, not for African-Americans according to Douglass. I believe that there should not be any desire to celebrate this day because this day does not celebrate and/or symbolize the moment my ancestors gained freedom. Rather, this day serves as a rejuvenation of the white-hegemonic racial institution that continues to hinder the social, intellectual, economic, physical, and spiritual well-being of black and brown individuals. To further display the hypocrisy of this celebration, Douglas goes on to say “Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions!
In the text, Frederick Douglass who once a slave wanted to acknowledge the unfulfilled promise of equality and independence through the holiday “Independence day.” In his address he talks about how people celebrate independence day even though everyone is not free. Frederick douglass wants to persuade the rochester ladies anti slavery group to stop celeberating indepence day becasue it is a hypcritical holiday becuase there are still people in America that are not fully free in their independence. Douglass creates a serious tone in order to establish the seriousness that Independence day is a day that should not be celebrated due to the fact that it is not what it says it is. Frederick Douglass appeals to the audience by the use
Frederick Douglass’ speech titled “What, to the slave, is the fourth of July” perfectly works to change the audiences viewpoints on the nationwide issue of slavery. Set into the Northern town of Rochester, the abolitionist appeals to the senses of the pro emancipation group of white people gathered before him. Achieved through varied shifts in tone and different rhetorical devices, Douglass perfectly explains the pure irony that the town is conveying, exposing their hypocritical standpoint on the nation’s most freedom based holiday, the Fourth of July. Douglas opens his speech by uniting himself with the audience, making them feel as though they are part of the same social class, and almost immediately segregating them in the same breath. Douglas writes “Fellow Citizens; above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions” revealing to
Frederic Douglass delivered “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro” on July 5, 1852, in the city of Rochester, New York. In the speech, the orator expressed thoughts and feelings of people who were held in bondage, whereas the country exulted at the celebration of independence. Being a black slave in the past, Frederic Douglass contended for an abolition of slavery; therefore, the oration for Independence Day represented a voice of hope for his people in front of a mainly white audience that shared anti-slavery ideas. Clearly, the speaker was familiar with the listeners and equated to them expressing respect, fearlessness, and harshness, thereby establishing credibility. Furthermore, he referenced to the Declaration of Independence and Founding
Although the constitution states “justice, liberty, prosperity and independence” (39), there are still slaves. Douglass uses a rhetoric question as he asks: “What, to a slave is your 4th of July?” (39) This method is very effective as it does truly change the perspective of the audience. As he continues through the speech, Douglass believes this celebrations is just and excuse to “cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages” (39).
On the 4th of July, independence day, Douglass gave a speech still remembered to this day. His famous, "What to the Slave is 4th of July?" lecture address slavery and why it is contradicting America’s roots and beliefs; equality, freedom, and democracy. This shows Douglass’ views on humanity, all blacks are human and should be treated equal.
Douglass claimed that although slavery was abolished, blacks were living under a different kind of slavery after the Civil war. Discrimination and racism was prominent and there were few laws enforced. “So long as discriminatory laws ensured defacto white control over Southern blacks, then ‘slavery by yet another name’ persisted. ‘Slavery is not abolished,’ he contended, ‘until the black man has the ballot’ with which to defend his interests and freedom.” (Howard-Pitney 485).
he uses bold words and biting criticism to call attention to the gross injustices and hypocrisy of slavery in the United States. In the opening remarks of his speech, Douglas provides heart-wrenching descriptions to pull his audience into the lives of their fellow
The Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass shows the imbalance of power between slaves and their masters. In his book, Douglass proves that slavery is a destructive force not only to the slaves, but also for the slaveholders. “Poison of the irresponsible power” that masters have upon their slaves that are dehumanizing and shameless, have changed the masters themselves and their morality(Douglass 39). This amount of power and control in contact with one man breaks the kindest heart and the purest thoughts turning the person evil and corrupt. Douglass uses flashbacks that illustrate the emotions that declare the negative effects of slavery.
He questions his audience of the significance of Independence Day to slaves, and he answers it in an extremely contrasting way: “your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; … your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery,” that the celebration is “a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.” Douglass dismisses the national pride, characterizing it as a mere expression of people’s ignorance. The antithesis, with “greatness” being “vanity,” “sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless,” and “shouts of liberty and equality” being “hollow mockery,” provokes shock and anger from the audience, who have just been part of it and are now degraded as “savages.” However, Douglass was not trying to be inflammatory but provocative, witnessing the pathetic enthusiasm in the anniversary, that people feel exuberant about themselves while ignoring the saddening
In “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass”, Douglass narrates in detail the oppressions he went through as a slave before winning his freedom. In the narrative, Douglass gives a picture about the humiliation, brutality, and pain that slaves go through. We can evidently see that Douglass does not want to describe only his life, but he uses his personal experiences and life story as a tool to rise against slavery. He uses his personal life story to argue against common myths that were used to justify the act of slavery. Douglass invalidated common justification for slavery like religion, economic argument and color with his life story through his experiences torture, separation, and illiteracy, and he urged for the end of slavery.
He declares, “to forget them [the slaves], to pass lightly over their wrongs and to chime in with the popular theme would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world,” (para. 5). He discusses that slavery is unjust, and says that celebrating freedom with slavery would be treason. This helps the audience realize that celebrating freedom in their country is not a peccadillo, and they naturally will try to right the wrong because of their moral instincts by stopping their celebration. He also says, “to him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mock; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy - a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages,” (para. 15). In this quote, Douglass says that celebrating liberty is covering up a crime: slavery.
Although a century apart, Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and Frederick Douglass’s What to a Slave is the fourth of July are kindred spirits. Notwithstanding the many differences in their respective writing styles, deep down the essence of the message conveyed is still very much the same. Both Martin Luther King Junior and Frederick Douglas had similar beliefs and concepts related to the treatment of the African American community. They both describe a tough yet heart breaking situation that makes them question their moral values and doubt the system and its ability to change for better.
When most people hear the words “Fourth of July” they think about fireworks, cookouts, and sparklers. During the 1850’s, the Fourth of July served as a reminder of the many horrors and injustices in the world. On July 4, 1852, Frederick Douglass-- a former American slave, abolitionist leader and adroit speaker-- spoke in Rochester, New York about the affectation of celebrating independence. In his speech, “The Hypocrisy of American Slavery”, he claims celebrating independence is unethical when slavery is widespread. To convince the reader of his claim, he uses rhetorical questions, emotional appeal, and antithesis in hopes of shedding light and sparking action on the wrongful situation.
In 1776, on July 4th, the 13 English colonies officially declared their freedom from England. However, as the years progressed, slavery became incorporated into everyday American life. In 1852, former slave Frederick Douglass gave a speech to celebrate America’s independence; however, instead of praising the country, he censured Americans for saying they were a “country of the free”. In the speech, Hypocrisy of American Slavery, Frederick Douglass declares that Americans should not be celebrating their freedom when there are slaves living in the country. To convince his audience that Americans are wrong celebrating freedom on the 4th of July when slavery exists in their country, he uses emotional appeal, ethical appeal, and rhetorical questions.