What To The American Slave Is Your 4th Of July By Frederick Douglass

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In the speech “What to the American Slave is Your 4th of July” by Frederick Douglass, the idea of “us vs. them” is frequently displayed in Douglass’s choice of diction to disassociate the slaves from the celebrations of the white people on Independence Day . “What have I to do with your national independence?” inquired Douglass of the white bodies in his crowd. By specifying the 4th of July as being [theirs], Douglass emphasizes that the holiday is for white people and not the slaves. A division is therefore drawn between the black slaves and the white community on this day. Douglass asserts that natural rights, “justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence,” are ones “shared by you, not by me.” He uses the words “you” and “me” to draw the …show more content…

Douglass exclaims, “above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions, whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday are today rendered more intolerable by the jubilant shouts that reach them.” This excerpt of Douglass’s speech displays the deception hidden in America’s 4th of July. While free whites may celebrate and rejoice their freedom, the slaves are reminded of their own imprisonment. Douglass wanted to get his audience to question whether Independence Day could still be Independence Day if not every man in America was free. “To [the slave] [the white American’s] celebration is a sham.” The celebration of the 4th of July was a “sham” to the blacks because they were not as fortunate as the white Americans to have been “torn from [their] chains of servitude.” Douglass sought to bring attention to the inequality still suffered by the black slaves in America in comparison to the freedom experienced by the white citizens. “The conscience of the nation must be roused,” proclaimed Douglass as a final effort to spark social change in

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