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David Walker's Appeal

By neilsteel13 Mar 20, 2013 1244 Words
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David Walker’s Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World is aimed towards African-American slaves and freedmen. His goal was to have all his “brethren”, rise up and fight against slaveholders and farmers. Walker called for vengeance against white men, but he also expressed the hope that their cruel behavior toward blacks would change, making vengeance unnecessary. His message to the slaves was direct; if they were not given liberty, then should take action and rebel. The Appeal caused a stir among slaveholders and slaves. In it, Walker argued that armed resistance was justified and should be used if necessary. As could be expected, slaveholders feared that it would cause slave uprisings. Slaves on the other hand, were encouraged by its message. It was common for groups of slaves to gather and listen to the reading of the text. Depending upon whether one was a slave or a slaveholder, the Appeal had become both dangerous and inspiring. David Walker’s appeal to me is targeted towards blacks. More specifically it is aimed at slaves and freedmen. It is clear that Walker is very well strong about making his point to his brethren when he states, “The whites want slaves, and want us for their slaves, but some of them will curse the day they ever saw us. As true as the sun ever shone in its meridian splendor, my color will root some of them out of the very face of the earth. They shall have enough of making slaves of, and butchering, and murdering us in the manner which they have.”(22) In this quote, it may appear that Walker is bad spirited but he is not because he wants the whites to feel the same pain as his people and he is feeling. Walker only wants the worse for those slaveholders that abuse their power over their slaves. I am sure many slaves agreed with what Walker said here because

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whites don’t know how much pain and suffering they’re causing to the slaves. Walker believed that slavery was a crime against humanity. He wanted the whites to feel what his people were feeling. Walker’s appeal is really about trying to get black people in the north and south to prepare themselves any way they can for resistance and slavery. “The man who would not fight under our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, in the glorious and heavenly cause of freedom and of God” (14), as Walker states, had no right to be free; but those who did were promised by Walker a renewed sense of self-respect, and communal and spiritual identity. Walker later goes on to say, “Are we men! I ask you, O my brethren! Are we men? Did our Creator make us to be slaves to dust and ashes like ourselves? … Have we any other Master but Jesus Christ alone?” (18). The answers to these questions would only be determined by the slaves themselves because it was up to them to make a stand. Walker appeals to the slaves and freedmen when he later says, “America is more our country than it is the whites-we have enriched it with our blood and tears… will they drive us from our property and homes, which we have earned with our blood?” Walker here is referring to colonization, where free blacks were supposed to be moved to a colony in Africa. By what Walker said in the above quote, he believed that America belonged to all who helped build it. He also emphasizes this by saying to the whites, “America is as much our country, as it is yours.-Treat us like men, and there is no danger but we will all live in peace and happiness.” This quote is basically addressed to his white readers in hoping to change their heart. With that being said, Walker knows that it will be

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hard to convince whites to change their minds, but at least he mentions it and whites can take it with a sigh of relief. The readers of Walker’s Appeal are supposed to be enlightened and arouse by it because he is urging them to claim their human rights. He states, “Oh! My colored brethren, all over the world, when shall we arise from this death-like apathy?-And be men!!” In this quote there’s a sense of urgency and Walker makes that clear. I think that by reading this many slaves were feeling connected to Walker and with that connection they were ready to accept the appeal and do something about slavery. Those who were free was also ready to make a stand because Walker preached that all “brethren” should unite, those free and those not free. In order for blacks to make a statement to the whites, they all had to unite to prove that they shouldn’t be treated the way they were. In the following quote he clearly addresses his fellow blacks by saying, “I would wish, candidly ...to be understood, that I would not give a pinch of snuff to be married to any white person I ever saw in all the days of my life.” Here he is trying to show that no matter what the situation is he will not have anything to do with white people, men or women. He really wants his readers to understand him in many ways more than one. He goes on to say, “…until you see your way clear-when that hour arrives and you move, be not afraid or dismayed…”, he doesn’t want slaves to be afraid of the whites. With this appeal, many slaves and freedmen would agree with Walker because he is giving them great reasons to make a stand. He is also encouraging them by talking about god and what rights they have as humans. Although it took many a while to understand Walker’s points, his appeal was definitely a starting point for blacks to put an

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end to slavery. If blacks are successful in putting and end to slavery then he states,”…we will want all the learning and talents among ourselves, and perhaps more, to govern ourselves.” By saying this adds a positive point to Walker’s appeal because he is telling them about the possible outcome of ending slavery. Walker’s appeal inspired the slaves and freedmen to try and put an end to slavery. The appeal was a document aimed towards blacks, slaves and freedmen. It urged and encouraged them to fight for their liberty, and if they didn’t get that, then they rise in rebellion. Both of these two groups, black slaves and freedmen would agree to Walker’s appeal because he was trying to show them a way towards liberty and happiness. Although it didn’t happen at that point, it certainly opened up new ways for blacks to fight for their own rights. This appeal inspired many that were there at the present time of David Walker and also those who followed such as Frederick Douglas, and Nat Turner. The appeal was successful because many slave revolts began soon after it was published and smuggled around by seamen. This appeal sought out to get slaves to fight for their freedom and blacks as a whole to get their liberty, and it did that. Walker died in Boston on June 28, 1830, under mysterious circumstances. His challenge to the slaves to free themselves was an important contribution to the assault on human slavery.

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