Frederick Douglass Rhetorical Analysis

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After reading Frederick Douglas’ speech What to the Slave is the 4th of July? I find myself both embarrassed and incredibly humbled. Here we have a man that was born into slavery in 1818 and, in spite of insurmountable odds, taught himself to read and write, and go on to become a peerless transcendental pontificator. The speech he gave on July 5th 1852 to the Rochester New York Ladies Anti-slavery Society will remain as one of the most empowering and articulate exhortations in our nation’s markedly questionable past. The irony during his delivery that day was so thick one could cut it with a knife.
Douglass’ argumentative, and contentious dialogue used that day was teeming with rhetorical questions. He would go on to query his audience, all the while knowing full well that he was the only one to be speaking on that day. No one would be uttering a syllable that day. This was his time. His questions were not questions but instead a method used to get his point across. How could anyone justify the atrocities that African Americans endured? He points his finger at everyone in society that stood idly by with their heads buried in sand. He speaks of perplexity and bewilderment over the notion that he was asked to deliver a speech on the 4th of July. Douglass comes across as insulted at this request, however: it is apparent he would not have passed up this opportunity to castigate his captive listeners, not for all diamonds in the world.
He had his work cut out for him and he was

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