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Rhetorical Analysis Of Hypocrisy Of American Slavery

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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, Frederick Douglass, a former slave, was called upon to deliver a speech to celebrate America’s independence; however, 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. He uses emotional appeal, ethical appeal, and rhetorical questions to convince his audience that Americans are wrong celebrating freedom on the 4th of July when slavery exists in their country.…show more content…
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. This shows the audience that they cannot be obdurate by eschewing the truth of slavery and that they should not be celebrating. They feel driven to want to correct themselves -- stop celebrating -- by…show more content…
He creates powerful imagery to depict the treacherous treatment slaves are enduring that floods the audience with shame. He provides them with a chance to recall their moral standards and compare them to slavery. He questions them to evoke the truth that slavery is never justifiable. The denouement of his speech is that it is patent to his audience that celebrating freedom with slavery existing is atrocious and want to eradicate
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