Frederick Douglass Essay

817 Words Dec 4th, 2012 4 Pages
The Fourth of July For the Negro Analysis

When the African-American man Frederick Douglass wrote his famous speech, “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro”, America was in a time of great distress. It was the year 1852, and the view of abolitionists was quickly spreading. It was the time of both provocative literatures such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin, as well as important resolutions, such as the Dredd Scott decision, showing the contrast between views at the time, both positive and negative towards slavery. Frederick Douglass was a freed African-American who bought his way out of slavery, serving as an inspiration to other slaves. His speech, being an immensely mocking jeremiad, bitterly laments the state of the American society and
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The parallel structure which causes constant contrast gives no chance for concession or reaction, as it constantly presents another similar predicament more serious in nature, accusing the audience, and all white slaveholders, of being unholy and hypocrites in the eyes of God. Considering their ethics, or ethos, and bringing their morals into question on a religious level is the most effective way of creating his shameful tone, as he blatantly refutes their traditions, so called “liberty”, and religion. Frederick Douglass’ speech was also highly effective due to his emphasis of the similarities between black and white men due to their equal humanity. He uses a layering effect very often to shame his listeners in a unique way such as in the line “while we are ploughing, planting, and reaping… while we are reading, writing, and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants, secretaries… while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises of common men… 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,” relating the African-Americans’ common activities to those of a white man with such emphasis as to be able to devise a lengthy list

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