The Rhetoric of Henry Highland Garnet in His “Address to the Slaves of the United States”

Decent Essays
Millie Martin
15 February 2013

The Rhetoric of Henry Highland Garnet in his “Address to the Slaves of the United States”
Henry Highland Garnet exerted powerful rhetorical strategies to the abolition and Civil Rights Movements during the nineteenth century. His spiritual and loyal appeals complimented rigorous and sometimes conflicting principles as seen in his “An Address to the Slaves of the United States of America.” The captivating rhetoric of Garnet and his ability to form new alternatives and redefine elements of contention signifies the rhetoric of strife, promoting African American loyalty and emphasizing the courage of African American males. Garnet was a dynamic elocutionist, enabling him to emotionally appeal to his
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However, instead of simply stating it, he utilizes an extended metaphor, personification and dark imagery to capture the evils slavery will extend to all. Appealing to his audiences’ (fellow abolitionists) pathos is vital in his cause to call for a revolution to free slaves in order to reveal the imperiousness of the situation and allow the audience to empathize more so with slaves remaining in the south. Furthering his purpose, Garnet’s ability to construct new alternatives and readdress elements of conflict is delineated by emphasizing the strength of African American males. He proposes, “Fellowmen! Patient sufferers! Behold your dearest rights crushed to the earth! See your sons murdered, and your wives (…) let it no longer be a debatable question, whether it is better to choose liberty or death” (Garnet 350). Garnet asks the men if it is worth standing by, watching your family endure such brutalities or die for their freedom. Offering an alternative and redefining the reason behind his proposal is vital to the intended purpose of the message—the lucidity of the assertion, the logic of its motives and the effect of its evidence. The clout of logos on an audience is imperative when trying to get the audience to join a cause. Henry Highland Garnet’s “Address to the Slaves of the United States” is acknowledged for the impact it has had historically due to the astounding rhetoric articulated in the piece.
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