What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July

Topics: Slavery, Human rights, Slavery in the United States Pages: 2 (671 words) Published: December 2, 2013
“What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
On July 4, 1852, Frederick Douglas delivered his “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” speech. At the time this speech was delivered, Douglas was merely an escaped slave who had been taught to read and write by his slave owner’s wife. He used his gift of literacy to fight for the God-given rights of both African-Americans and women. In “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July,” Douglas cunningly uses bold diction and formatting in order to emphasize to his mostly white audience points of conviction concerning slaves. Douglas starts by asking a sequence of rhetorical questions. In order to stress the separation between slaves and those who have their freedom, he refers to "that" Declaration of Independence, instead of "the" Declaration of Independence. He regularly uses the terms "you" and "me", "us" and "them", to emphasize the fact that this holiday is important to white Americans, but a mockery to African-Americans. Since the Fourth of July represents the white man’s freedom from England, why should blacks celebrate with them when they share no part of that oppression relief. To slaves, this holiday is a double standard that makes the blind rejoice for what is not theirs to celebrate, and pushes the oppressed further into darkness. Douglas continues convicting by addressing the wrongs committed by America. He goes into detail about why African Americans have the same natural right to freedom as any other human beings. He proposes to argue about the slave being a man: that man be entitled to liberty, it is wrong to make men "brutes", and finally, that slavery is not godly. However, he conveys that his argument is too simplistic. This should not even have to be argued because it all ties back to his point about the Fourth of July. Freedom is supposedly that natural right of all men. So, if a man is a man than freedom is what he is born to have. Douglas continues by bringing another double standard into the light....
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