What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July Essay

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Freedom is the primary ideal upon which America was founded. It is the tenet most cherished by the original colonists; it is a pillar upon which they built the new government. However, freedom was denied to a large part of America's citizens for a long time. Frederick Douglas was one of the greatest activists for African-American freedom of the 19th century; he used literary works and speeches, instead of violence, to achieve his goals. In his piece "What, to the Slave, is the Fourth of July?" 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…show more content…
He proclaims that "…While we are…living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives and children, and, above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian's God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!" By showing the mundanity of the slave, Douglass shows the audience that the slaves are human and therefore unable to be considered property. He forces his audience to examine their own lives and realize their similarities to the slaves and the hypocrisy of slavery. He doesn't give his audience a chance to disagree with his stance on slavery because he makes such a blunt argument. Douglass asks again, "Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it." He points out that the laws governing slaves are, by their very nature, proof that a slave is a man and therefore slavery is wrong. He pushes his audience to accept that slavery is inhumane and fight against it by proving that the white men in his audience are no different than the
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