Tutor:jacob angel, Gurney Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Harvard University, Fellow, National Center for the Humanities. Copyright National Center for the Humanities, 2013
- teacher's note
- Student version PDF
What rhetorical arguments and strategies did Frederick Douglass use to persuade white audiences in the North to be against slavery and for abolition?
In the 1850s, abolition was not a widely accepted movement in the United States. It was considered radical, extreme and dangerous. In "What Does the 4th of July Mean for Slaves?", Frederick Douglass attempted to not only convince people of the injustice of slavery, but also to make abolition more acceptable to northern whites.
Frederick Douglass, ca. 1855, Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Federico Douglas, „What is the 4th of July to the slave?' Address delivered at Rochester, New York, on July 5, 1852.
kind of text
Discursive, historical, informative.
Click herefor patterns and skills for this lesson.
Common Core State Standards
- ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.5 (Detailed analysis of how a complex primary source is structured...)
Advanced Placement US History
- Key Concept 5.2 (I-B) (Abolitionists...launched a highly visible campaign against slavery...)
Advanced composition and placement language
- Develop... the ability to judge... sources... primary
- Read nonfiction books to give students the opportunity to identify and explain the author's use of rhetorical strategies and techniques.
In addition to historical points about 19th century attitudes toward slavery, race, and abolition, you can use this speech to teach formal rhetoric. We have divided the address into four sections according to its function. This classification follows the classic structure of argumentative writing:
- Paragraphs 1–3: Introduction (beginning)
- Paragraphs 4 to 29: Narrative or statement of fact (Narrative)
- Paragraphs 30 to 70: Arguments and counterarguments (confirmationmirefutation)
- Paragraph 71: Conclusion (Perorata)
We've included notes that explain the function of each section and questions that encourage discussion about how Douglass uses rhetoric to make his case.
This lesson includes five interactive activities that you can access by clicking on this icon🇧🇷 The first examines the subtle way Douglass compares the patriots of 1776 to the abolitionists of 1852. The second asks students to find out how Douglass supports his thesis. The third focuses on his use of syllogistic reasoning, while the fourth examines how he reasoned through emotion, and the fifth through analogy.
We recommend assigning theComplete text🇧🇷 For an accurate reading, we analyze eighteen of the seventy-one paragraphs of the speech through sophisticated questions, most of which are text-dependent, that allow students to explore rhetorical strategies and important themes. Answers to these questions are provided in the Text Analysis section of the version below, designed for teachers. EITHEReducational version, a printable worksheet to use with students, skip these answers and this note, "Teaching the Text." Terms shown in blue arelevitateand in a printable glossary on the last page of the educational version. The student worksheet also contains links to the activities indicated by this icon.
This is a long lesson. We recommend dividing students into groups and assigning each group a set of paragraphs to review.
- What kind of text are we dealing with?
- When was this written?
- Who writes this?
- What audience was it intended for?
- For what purpose was it written?
At the invitation of the Rochester Ladies Anti-Slavery Society, Frederick Douglass delivered this address on July 5, 1852, at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, New York. It was reported and reprinted in northern newspapers and published and sold as a forty-page booklet within weeks of delivery. The 500 to 600 people who heard Douglass speak were generally sympathetic to his comments. One newspaper noted that when he sat down "there was general applause." However, many who read his speech would not have been so enthusiastic. Even the Norsemen who were against slavery were not necessarily in favor of abolition. Many were content to allow Southerners to continue to own slaves, a right they believed was guaranteed by the Constitution. They just didn't want slavery to spread to areas where it didn't exist. In this Independence Day prayer, Douglass attempted to persuade these people to take what was then considered the extreme position of abolition.
He also tried to change views about the abilities and intelligence of African Americans. In 1852, many, if not most, white Americans believed that African Americans were inferior, in fact, less than fully human. Douglass attempts to dispel these notions through an impressive display of liberal learning. His speech demonstrates an extensive knowledge of rhetoric, history, literature, religion, economics, poetry, music, law, and even technological advances.
Introduction (“Sordio”): paragraphs 1 to 3
Closed reading questions
1. What should the submissions accomplish?
They try to interest the audience and make it receptive to the speaker's message. Introductions can inform listeners about the topic or purpose of a speech, try to convince them that a topic is important and worthy of their attention, or delight an audience with a speaker.
2. What is Douglass trying to do in this introduction? Cite evidence from the text to support your answer.
Because his audience is familiar with the subject matter of Fourth of July speeches, and because he recognizes the importance of the occasion, Douglass does not need to summarize his theme or defend its importance in his introduction. Rather, he dedicates himself to ingratiating himself with his listeners. He praises her importance and claims to be humiliated by her size. He "bows" and "crouches" before them. He worries about his "limited ability to talk" about him. His lightness is apparent, not real.
3. Why do you say that "excuses of this kind are generally considered to be in poor taste and meaningless"?
Call attention to the rhetorical conventions of introductions to signal to your audience that they do not apply in this case. He tries to earn their trust by assuring them that he is sincere.
4. The word "flat" usually means level or smooth. How does Douglass define the word "flat" in this context?
Here the word "flat" is used to mean dull or shallow. Using the context, we can see that Douglass intended the connotation of the word "flat" not to be flat, but rather to mean something that lacks depth or emotion.
5. Why would it be “awesome” for you to speak on the 4th of July?
As he reminds the audience in the last paragraph of the introduction, he is a runaway slave. By drawing attention to the fact that a slave has been invited to speak about freedom, he employs irony, a strategy that he will use throughout his speech to emphasize certain themes.
6. There are contradictions in Douglass's self-portrait. What are you going to? Give concrete cases of this in the text. How can you explain them?
In the opening paragraph, Douglass not only describes his "speaking abilities" as "limited", but also claims that he has "limited experience" in practice, which he is said to have done mostly in "rural schools". However, in the next paragraph he says that he has spoken many times in Corinth Hall to many of the same people who now sit before him. The last sentence of the second paragraph ("But none of them...") indicates what he does. He walks a tightrope. He immediately tries to please with humility as he demonstrates his authority as a speaker and justifies his presence on the dais. He continues this balancing act in the next paragraph when he states that he has "learned little". However, he uses the term "Exordio", which contradicts the claim of little learning and reveals a vocabulary and knowledge of formal rhetoric acquired at the university.
7. What do you think a white audience would have expected from a black speaker in 1852? How does Douglass respond to these expectations in introducing him?
In this introduction, Douglass does more than introduce himself to the audience. By bringing up the subject of slavery in the third paragraph, he brings to his text an issue that has already brought his skin color to Corinthian Hall: racism. Even among some abolitionists, there was a strong prejudice that African Americans were inferior, in fact, anything less than human. Douglass's entire speech is designed to dispel that belief. In introducing him, he begins with that subtle glimpse of knowledge revealed in his use of "Exordium". Thus, with a wry wink, he indicates to his listeners that they are about to put on a serious display of scholarship and rhetorical skill, a feat far beyond the abilities of any lesser being.
1. Mr. President, friends and fellow citizens: who could address this audience without an a?siestaSensation, he has stronger nerves than me. I don't remember speaking before of a more withdrawn meeting and more mistrust of my abilities than the one I did that day. I was invaded by a feeling quite unfavorable for the exercise of my limited ability to speak. The task before me will require much forethought and study to carry it out correctly. I know that excuses like this are generally considered baseless and meaningless. I trust, however, that mine will not be so rare. If I were to look relaxed, my appearance would portray me very poorly. My little experience of speaking at public meetings, in rural schools,Have funnothing at this time.
2. The roles andposterssay i have to deliver a 4th of julyprayer🇧🇷 that definitely sounds like thatlarge, and unusual, because it is true that many times I have had the privilege of speaking in this beautiful room and speaking with many who now honor me with their presence. But neither your familiar faces nor the perfect onescalibrateI think I have Corinthian Hall, it seems to relieve my embarrassment.
3. The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, that the distance between this platform and the slave plantation from which I escaped is considerable, and the difficulties encountered in passing from this platform to the first are not small. The fact that you are here today is a source of amazement for me and also of gratitude. So you won't be surprised if, in what I have to say,Testno elaborate preparation, no embellishment of my speech with loud noisesbeginning🇧🇷 With little experience and less learning I was able to form my thoughtsquicklyand imperfect together; and trusting in your patient and generous indulgences, I will proceed to present them to you.
Narrative or Statement of Fact (“Narratio”): paragraphs 4–29
Surveillance:Students may be familiar with the role of an introduction in a speech, but less with the role of the narrative section. You could explain that in a speech commemorating an event, speakers often refer to the event by offering a narrative about it. This reminds the audience why they are here and gives speakers a chance to draw inspiration from the event for the future. Douglass's narrative clearly fulfills the first function and, as we shall see, the second as well. But it also fulfills two other important functions. Looking back at America's revolutionary past, the narrative condemns America's present as a slave owner through an implicit comparison. Furthermore, it enshrines radical opposition to government policy and anti-slavery revolution as revered parts of the mainstream American political tradition. In other words, he equates the abolitionists of 1852 with the patriots of 1776, each group denounced in its day as "mischief-mongers, troublemakers...rebels, dangerous men."
8. What is the effect of Douglass's repetition of the words "you" and "you" in this paragraph and throughout the speech?
The repetition of the words "your" and "you" strikingly emphasizes the distance between Douglass and his audience, signaling to his listeners that he doesn't share their perspective or attitude toward the 4th of July.
9. Why is Douglass hopeful for the future of the United States? Cite evidence from the text to support your answer.
He is inspired by the fact that the country is young, barely 76 years old. Your destiny and character are not fixed. So you can still change and get out of slavery.
10. What does the metaphor of the “great currents” suggest?
If America allows slavery to become a deep and lasting part of its life, the nation may benefit, or it may be destroyed or morally drained. In the end, the metaphor is a wake-up call about what can happen if the change does not come soon.
11. In the sentence "Perhaps if the nation were older, the heart of the patriot would be sadder and the brow of the reformer heavier," why does Douglass equate the patriot with the reformer? Why would both groups be sadder if the nation were older?
In this part of his speech, Douglass takes pains to equate the founding patriots with contemporary anti-slavery reformers. He starts here with this equation. The nation, Douglass tells his audience, is still young, not on the right track, and therefore more vulnerable to change. It follows that if he were older, he would be more determined in his ways, and the reformer who wished to change those ways would be saddened. But why should a patriot be sad? From Douglass's point of view, he would be sad for the same reason. In Douglass's opinion, the patriots founded a just nation that did not tolerate slavery. As the nation matured with the injustice of slavery entrenched in it, the United States would betray the ideals of the revolution, and that would sadden the patriot.
4. For the purposes of this celebration, the 4th of July will be understood. It is the anniversary of your national independence and your political freedom. that was easter for youemancipatedthe people of God. He turns his thoughts back to the day and the work of his adults.publication🇧🇷 and the signs and wonders associated with this act and this day. This celebration also marks the beginning of another year of your national life; and remember that the Republic of America is now 76 years old. I am glad, dear fellow citizens, that your nation is so young. Seventy-six years, though it is a good age for a man, is but a speck in the life of a nation. Three years and ten is the time allotted to bachelors; but the nations count their years by thousands. Consequently, he is still only at the beginning of his national career.strong headedin childhood. I repeat, I am glad that it is so. There is hope in thought, and hope is much needed under the dark clouds that settle on the horizon. the eye ofReformeris met with outbursts of anger,Omendisastrous times; but your heart may well flutter when you think that America is young and that it is[America]it is still in the impressionable stage of its existence. Can't you expect the high teachings of wisdom, justice and truth to guide your destiny? If the nation were older, the patriot's heart would be sadder and the reformer's brow heavier. your future can bewrappedin darkness, and the hope of his prophets is lost in pain. There areTrostthinking America is young. Large flows are not easily diverted by channels that have been severely eroded over time. Sometimes they can rise up in quiet majestic majesty andfloodthe earth, refreshes and fertilizes the earth with its mysterious properties. They, too, can rise up in anger and fury, and in their waves of anger carry away the wealth accumulated over the years.deprivationand difficulties. However, they gradually flow back into the same old channel and flow likequietlyas usual. But while the river cannot be diverted, it can dry up and leave nothing but them.witheredbranch and theunpleasantrocks to howl onabysmalwind, the sad story of glory is gone. As with rivers, so with nations.
Activity: The “Fathers” and the Abolitionists
This activity sheds light on the context of Douglass's speech and provides background for the comparison he makes.
12. According to Douglass, what did the “fathers” do? Cite the specific language of the text.
They rejected "the infallibility of government," "declared government action unjust, unreasonable, and oppressive," and sided with "right versus wrong, weak versus strong, and oppressed versus oppressor."
13. Why does Douglass confirm his approval of the actions of the "parents"?
Douglass reaffirms his approval of the Founders' actions and embraces the principles of the Revolution in order to bond with his audience and assure them that he participates, at least to some degree, in the American political tradition.
6. But your parents who did not adopt thiselegantidea of that dayinfallibilitythe government and theabsolutecharacter of their actions, presumably unlike the original government in terms of the wisdom and justice of some of themLoads and limitations🇧🇷 In their enthusiasm, they went so far as to declare the government's measures unfair, unreasonable and oppressive, and in fact to which one cannot calmly submit. It goes without saying, dear fellow citizens, that my opinion on these measures is complete.health insurancewith that of their parents. Such a declaration of consent on my part would not bring much to anyone. This would certainly not prove anything about the role he would have played if he had lived through the great controversy of 1776. Now to say that America was right and England was wrong, is that correct?extremelyeasy. Anyone can say it; Thatcoward, no less than the brave nobleman, canslightly jarringabout the tyranny of England towards the American colonies. It is fashionable to do so; but there was a time when she tried the souls of men to speak against England and for the cause of the colonies. Those who did wereinvoicedin his time conspirators ofJoke,vibrating screenand rebellious and dangerous men. Good against evil, the weak against the strong and the oppressed against the oppressor! herein lies the merit, and one that seems stale in our own time. The cause of freedom can be trespassed by men who boast of the deeds of their fathers. But to continue.
14. How would you characterize the structure of the first four sentences of this paragraph?
The structure balances ideas through antithesis, a rhetorical device that pits opposing qualities against each other: they werePazmen, but they preferredRevolution….“.
15. How does the structure of these sentences reinforce the main idea of the paragraph?
The carefully balanced structure reinforces the notion that the founders themselves were reasonable, well-balanced men.
16. What conclusion does Douglass want his audience to draw from his interpretation of the Founders?
Because he makes an identification between the Founders and the abolitionists in Sections 4 and 6, the moderate characteristics he ascribes here to the former also apply to the latter, and this attribution is important because it addresses the charge that abolitionists have been fanatics and monomaniacs. .
17. Speakers and writers often make their points by omitting things as much as inserting things. This strategy is known as strategic silence. What did Douglass leave out of her portrayal of his parents? Why should he choose that?
Douglass never mentions the fact that many of the parents were slave owners. This silence allows Douglass to create his own version of the parents, impartial for facts that would challenge his version. Similarly, they divert the listener's attention from points that might make them oppose your argument.
18. Do you think Douglass's omission weakens your argument?
Here you can stimulate a discussion among your students. Some will say that the omission weakens Douglas's argument because he directly refutes it. How can you say that the "fathers" were on the side of "the oppressed against the oppressors" when many of them were oppressors? Other students might argue that this omission does not weaken their case. Despite being slave owners, men like Washington and Jefferson founded a nation built on the ideals of justice and freedom. The fact that many of the founders do not live up to these ideals does not make them any less attractive. As Douglass says in sections sixteen and seventeen (paragraphs not covered in this lesson), the "Fathers" enshrined these "saving principles" in the Declaration of Independence, and it is these principles that the nation must uphold. Thus, in this part of the speech, Douglass argues that just because the "fathers" did not fully embrace justice and liberty in 1776 does not mean that their listeners should not have in 1852.
23. They were men of peace; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to slavery. They were quiet men; but they did not hesitate to agitate against oppression. they showedpatience🇧🇷 but they knew their limits. They believed in order; but not in the order of tyranny[government of absolute power]🇧🇷 Nothing was "fixed" on them that was wrong. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were "final"; not slavery and oppression. You might as well preserve the memory of those men. They were great in their time and generation. Their solid masculinity stands out even more when we juxtapose them with thesedegeneratemal.
Arguments and counterarguments (“confirmation” and “rebuttal”):
Surveillance:Arguments and counterarguments are at the heart of a persuasive speech. Review with your students what speakers and writers try to do when they present arguments. They present their arguments and refute those of their opponents. To win an audience, they can appeal to their listeners' sanity by presenting a logical case, or they can try to win their trust by impressing them with common sense or high moral character, or they can appeal to their emotions. We offer passages that illustrate all of these strategies.
Activity: Thesis Statement and Supporting Evidence
In paragraph 35, Douglass states the thesis of his speech. This activity examines his thesis and the evidence he uses to support it.
19. What is Douglass's position in this paragraph?
In paragraph 3, Douglass alluded to having been a slave. In this paragraph, his listeners discover all the implications of this fact for his speech. He identifies with the enslaved and announces that he will see the Fourth of July from their point of view.
35. fellow citizen; about your nationality,turbulentjoy, I hear youSadmillions of regrets! whose chains, heavy andTo takeyesterday, are, today,surrenderedmade even more unbearable by the cheers that reach them. If I forget, if I don't faithfully remember those damn children of pain today, "May my right hand forget his cunning, and may my tongue stick to my palate!" to join a popular topic, that would beTreasonthe majorityscandalousand shocking, and it would make me areproachbefore God and the world. My subject, fellow citizens, is AMERICAN SLAVERY. I will see this day and its popular features from the point of view of the slave. Standing there and identifying with the Americanservo, make your mistakes mean, I do not hesitate to declare from the bottom of my heart that the character and conduct of this nation have never seemed more bleak to me than this Fourth of July. Whether we turn to the statements of the past or the confessions of the present, the behavior of the nation seems to be the same.abominableIt's disgusting. America is wrong about the past, wrong about the present, and solemnly swears to be wrong about the future. I am and will be with God and the broken and bleeding slave on this occasion, in the name of outraged humanity, in the name of freedom that lies in chains, in the name of the Constitution and the Bible that are despised and trampled, question and dareMessage, with all the force I can command, whatever will serve the purposeperpetuateSlavery: America's Great Sin and Shame! "I will not do itmake a mistake🇧🇷 I will not apologize; I'm going to use thoseheavierlanguage that I can master; and yet not a word will escape me that a man whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not a slave-owner, does not profess himself right and just.
Activity: Douglass's Use of Syllogistic Reasoning
In paragraph 36, Douglass uses logic to show that slaves are human. In particular, he uses a syllogism. This activity explores syllogistic reasoning and how Douglass uses it.
36. But I seem to hear one of my listeners say that, precisely in these circumstances, you and your fellow abolitionists do not make a favorable impression on public opinion. If you argued more and denounced less, you would convince more andculpaless, your cause would have a much better chance of success. But ISubmit, where everything is clear, there is nothing to discuss. What point of anti-slavery belief should I discuss? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Do I have to prove that the slave is a man? this point isgrantedhandsome. Nobody doubts it. The slave masters themselves acknowledge this by making laws for their government. They recognize it when they punish the disobedience of the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the Commonwealth of Virginia which, if committed by a black man (however ignorant), carry the death penalty; while only two of the same crimes subject a white man to the same punishment. What is that if not the recognition that the slave is a moral, intellectual and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is granted. It is admitted that the law books of the South are replete with decrees prohibiting, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of a slave to read or write. If you can point to such laws regarding beasts of the field, then I may agree to discuss the manhood of slaves. If the dogs in your streets, if the birds in the air, if the cattle on your hills, if the fish in the sea and the reptile that crawls, cannot distinguish the slave from the beast, then I will argue that a slave is a men. !
20. How is paragraph 37 related to paragraph 36?
Douglass goes on to argue that slaves are men.
21. How does Douglass develop this paragraph?
He does this by listing examples of some of the things slaves do and others do: plowing, planting, building, writing, raising children, etc.
37. Just for NowComplainthe same masculinity of the black race. It is no wonder that while we plow, plant and harvest, we use all kinds of mechanical tools, we build houses, we build bridges, we build ships, we work metals of bronze, iron, copper, silver and gold; that while we read, write, and encrypt, we are scribes, clerks, and secretaries, and have among us lawyers, physicians, ministers, poets, writers, editors, orators, and teachers; that while we are engaged in all sorts of enterprises common to other men, digging for gold in California, catching whales in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hills, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, in families living As husbands, wives and children, and above all confessing and adoring the God of Christians and looking with hope at life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called to prove that we are men!
22. How does Douglass maintain order and coherence in the first sentence of this paragraph?
It uses parallelism, a type of organization where an author places similar ideas in a similar framework. Here Douglass compares the humiliations suffered by slaves in a series of infinitive clauses: "...dobrutal men,Stealhis freedom" etc.
23. What does the repetition of infinitive sentences ("do", "steal", "work", etc.) do in the first sentence?
They set a pace that heightens any outrage and adds to the emotional impact of the conversation.
39. What am I to argue that it is wrong to turn people into beasts, deprive them of their freedom, work them without pay, keep them in the dark about their relations with their fellow men, beat them with clubs, their flesh to flay with a whip? put iron in their limbs, hunt them down with dogs, auction them off,pull aparttheir families, pulling out their teeth, burning their flesh, starving them to obey and submit to their masters? Am I to argue that a system so polluted with blood and pollution is wrong? Nope! I will not do it. I have better jobs for my time and energy than such arguments would suggest.
40. What then remains to be discussed? Is not slavery divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity[preacher, preacher]you are wrong thereblasphemyin thought. What is inhuman cannot be divine! who can think of thatSuggestion🇧🇷 Who can, can; I do not can. The time for such an argument is over.
Activity: Emotional Appeal
In paragraph 45, Douglass makes an emotional argument. This activity explores emotional attraction and how Douglass uses it.
45. See the practical operation of this internal slave trade, the American slave trade,consistentthrough American politics and American religion. Here are men and women.createdlike pigs to the market. Do you know what a pig cart is?[Pastor]🇧🇷 I'll show you a controller. They inhabit all our southern states. shecrossthe land and clutter the nation's highways with herds of human cattle. You'll see one of these human flesh guides.[Meat seller]Armed with a pistol, whip, and razor, he led a company of one hundred men, women, and children up the Potomac to the New Orleans slave market. These wretches must be sold individually or together.Manyto meet buyers. They are food for the cotton field and the deadly trapiche. Look at the sad procession that wearily advances and the wretched inhuman who leads it. Hear her wild screams and bloodthirsty curses as she pounces on her terrified captives! There you see the old man, withcastlesthin and gray Please look at this young mother, her bare shoulders under the scorching sun and her salty tears falling on the forehead of the baby in her arms. Also to see the thirteen-year-old girl crying, yes! crying, thinking of the mother who was torn off! EITHERdrivenit moves slowly. The heat and sadness nearly exhausted her strength; Suddenly you hear a quick snap like thisdischargea shotgun; the shackles swing and the chain rattles at the same time; Your ears are greeted by a cry that seems to reach the center of your soul! The snap you heard was the sound of the slave's whip; The scream you heard was from the woman you saw with the baby. her speed hadstoppedunder the weight of his son and his chains! That cut on her shoulder is telling him to keep going. Follow the journey to New Orleans. Participate in the auction; to see men being examined like horses; Watch theto formof women being roughly and brutally subjected to the shocking stares of American slave buyers. See how this device is sold and stored forever. and never forget the deep, sad sobs that arose from that scattered crowd. Tell me citizen WHERE under the sun can you see one more showdiabolicaland shocking. However, this is only a glimpse of the American slave trade as it currently exists in the mainstream of the United States.
Párrafos 46 a 48
24. What argumentation strategy does Douglass use in this section of his speech?
Here Douglass established his own moral authority to speak on the issue of slavery, citing his own experiences and establishing himself as a credible witness with firsthand information.
46. I was born in the midst of such landscapes and scenes. To me, the American slave trade is a horrible reality. As a child my soul was often penetrated by the sensation of its terror. He lived on Philpot Street, Fell's Point, Baltimore and watched from hereapart, the slave ships of the Basin, anchored offshore with their cargoes of human flesh, waiting for favorable windsfloatby the Chesapeake. At that time there was a large slave market at the Pratt Street entrance off Austin Woldfolk. His agents were dispatched to every city and county in Maryland, announcing his arrival through newspapers and burning "leaflets" entitled MONEY FOR BLACKS. These men were usually well-dressed and verycaptivatingin your ways. Always ready to drink, treat and play. The fate of many slaves depended on the drawing of a single card; and many children were snatched from their mothers' arms by arranged deals in a state of brutal drunkenness.
47. Meat dealers round up their victims by the dozens and drive them in chains to the general store in Baltimore. When enough numbers gather here, a boat will be chartered to make it happen.transferahelplessCrew to Mobile or New Orleans. From the slave prison to the ship they are usually driven in the dead of night; for since the agitation against slavery, some caution applies.
48. In the deep, silent darkness of midnight, heavy, dead footsteps have often awakened me, and theunhappyShouts from the chain gangs that came through our door. EITHERcombmy heart as a child was intense; and he often consoled me, when he talked to my mistress in the morning, to hear her say that the custom was very perverse; that he hated to hear the rattle of the chains, and thatdistressingScream. I was glad to find someone who sympathized with me in my horror.
25. How does this paragraph relate to the general thesis of the speech?
Here Douglass offers the strongest illustration that the United States does not live up to the ideals it has set for itself.
26. What is the thesis of this paragraph?
The way Americans practice their politics and religion is at odds with the values and ideals they profess to uphold.
27. How does Douglass's sentence structure reflect the thesis of the paragraph?
Of the eleven sentences in this paragraph, ten exhibit a parallel compound structure in which the first sentence identifies an ideal and the next sentence refutes the United States' claim. Each sentence begins with a slightly accusatory "you" and then transitions to a conjunction or single word that functions as a word - "while", "but", "yet" - suggesting a contradiction.
63. Americans! its republican politics, no less than its republican religion, are manifestly contradictory. You boast of your love of liberty, your superior civilization, and your pure Christianity, while the entire political power of the nation (embodied in the two great political parties) is solemnly pledged to support and defend the enslavement of three million of your compatriots. . you throwabominationthe crown-headed tyrants of Russia and Austria and proud of their democratic institutions, while accepting to be mere instruments and bodyguards of the tyrants of Virginia and Carolina. You invite refugees fleeing from foreign oppression to your shores, you honor them with banquets, greet them with applause, cheer them on, toast them, salute them, protect them, and pour out your money like water on them; but the refugees from your own country you announce, hunt down, arrest, shoot and kill. You boast of your sophistication and your universal education, but you harbor a system as barbaric and terrible as has ever tarnished the character of a nation, a system in which you began.greedcarried away by pride and immortalized in cruelty. He shed tears for fallen Hungary and made the sad story of his mistakes the subject of his poets, statesmen and orators, including his own.galanteThe sons are ready to take up arms to claim them[from Hungary]cause against their oppressors; but as to the ten thousand errors of the American slave, you would enforce the strictest silence and hail him as an enemy of the nation who dares to bring those errors to the subject of public discourse! You all burn at the mention of the liberty of France or Ireland; but they are as cold as an iceberg to the idea of freedom for America's enslaved. They speak eloquently of the dignity of work; however, it maintains a system that places a stigma on work at its core. You can bare your chest to the onslaught of British artillery to get rid of a threepence tax on tea; and wring out the last hard-earned penny[a currency previously used in Great Britain]from the clutches of the black workers of his country. They profess to believe that "God dwelt in all nations of men upon the face of all the earth of one blood" and commanded all men everywhere to love one another; yet you notoriously hate (and boast about your hatred of) all men whose skin is not as colored as yours. You declare before the world, and are understood by the world, that you “take these truths for granted, that all men are created equal; and they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; and that among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and yet you hold securely in a bondage which, according to your own Thomas Jefferson, "is worse than the ages of those against whom your fathers rebelled," one seventh of the inhabitants of your land.
Activity: Argument by analogy
In paragraph 68, Douglass introduces another persuasion tool, argument by analogy, which will be explored in this activity.
Surveillance:This paragraph is an important part of Douglass's thought.refutationand as such deserves special attention. Not only does he address a strong justification for slavery to continue, the belief that it is protected by the Constitution, but he also asserts a controversial theory about how the Constitution should be interpreted.
68. Fellow Citizen! there is no subject on which the peoples of the North can be so perniciously pushed as the pro-slavery character of the Constitution. In this instrument that I hold there is neitherwarranty,license, noSanctionof the hateful; but interpreted as it should be interpreted, the Constitution is a GLORIOUS DOCUMENT OF LIBERTY. Read your preamble, consider its purpose. Is slavery among them? it's at the entrance[the introduction]🇧🇷 or is it in the temple[Constitution]🇧🇷 It's none. While I do not intend to discuss this topic at this time, let me ask you, if not a littleSingularthat if the constitution must be an instrument of slavery on the part of its framers and adopters, why is there neither slavery nor slavery nor the slave to be found in it? What to think of an instrument[legal contract, in this case a deed], written, validly written to allow[let possess]the city of Rochester to an area[Questions]of the country where no country was mentioned? However, there are certain rules of interpretation for a good understanding of all legal instruments. These rules are well established. These are simple, common sense rules that you and I and everyone can understand and apply without having studied law for years. meto explorethe idea that the question of the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of slavery is not the business of the people. I believe that every American citizen has the right to have an opinion on the Constitution and to have itgreasedof this opinion and use all honest means to express your opinionpredominant1. Without this right, the freedom of an American citizen would be as insecure as that of a Frenchman. Former Vice President Dallas tells us that the Constitution is a goal to which no American mind can be too intent and no American heart too devoted. He goes on to say that the Constitution, in his words, is simple and understandable and is intended for the native and genuine understanding of our fellow citizens. Senator Berrien tells us that the Constitution is the basic law that controls all the others. The charter of our liberties, which each citizen has a vested interest in fully understanding. Testimony from Senator Breese, Lewis Cass, and many others who are widely respected as good lawyers on the Constitution. I understand, therefore, that it is not presumptuous for an individual to form an opinion on this instrument.
Conclusion (“Peroratio”): Paragraph 71
Surveillance:The conclusions are important. Ask your students how they work and what they should do. The last words an audience hears often stand out and shape the impression of an entire speech. Traditionally, speakers have used them to do four things: present the audience in a favorable light, highlight key points, elicit an appropriate emotional response, or summarize the point. Douglass does not emphasize key points or repeat his arguments. Instead, he tries to frame his arguments for abolition in a favorable light and give hope to his audience.
28. What should the conclusions do?
Traditionally four things: leave the audience with a positive opinion, emphasize key points, provoke an appropriate emotional response or summarize the argument.
29. Why is it important for Douglass to tell his listeners "don't despair of this country"?
Even though he just denounced the country in a grim and scathing way, he doesn't want his audience to leave the room feeling depressed and hopeless.
30. On what does Douglass base the hope he expresses in this paragraph?
Look back to the past and the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence. For Douglass, these ideals, if the nation can live up to them, make America, despite its flaws, a place of promise and hope for the enslaved. He also looks to a future in which he believes that commercial and technological advances (ships that use steam to make a "path" across the sea, and telegraph cables that use "lightning" (electricity) to do the same) play a role. with him: intelligence, enlightenment. and moral progress throughout the world.
71. In conclusion, let me say that despite the bleak picture I have today of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces at work that must inevitably bring about the disappearance of slavery. "The arm of the Lord is not shortened," and the condemnation of slavery stands firm. Therefore, I leave where I started with hope. While I am encouraged by the Declaration of Independence, by the great principles it contains, and by the genius of American institutions, I am also encouraged by the apparent trends of the times. Nations are no longer in the same relationship with each other as they were long ago. No nation can now isolate itself from the surrounding world and follow the same ancient path of its fathers without hindrance. It was the time when it could be done. Long-established customs of a harmful nature can surround themselves sooner and do their bad work in society.impunity🇧🇷 Knowledge was then limited and enjoyed by a privileged few, and the crowd remained in spiritual darkness. But now there has been a change in the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires went out of style. The trade arm hassupportspush aside the gates of the mighty city. Intelligence penetrates the darkest corners of the world. It makes its way above and below the sea and on land. Wind, steam, and lightning are its authorized agents. The oceans no longer separate, but unite nations. Boston to London is now a vacation trip. Space is comparatively annihilated. Thoughts spoken on one side of the Atlantic are clearly heard on the other. The distant and almost fabulous Pacific rolls majestically at our feet. The Celestial Empire, the Mystery of All Times, will be solved. The commandment of the Almighty "Let there be light" has not yet exhausted the power of him. No abuse, no outrage, whether in taste, sport, or greed, can now hide from the omnipresent light. China's iron shoe and crippled foot should be seen in contrast to nature. Africa must rise up and put on her cloak not yet woven. "Ethiopia will stretch out her hand to God." In the earnest efforts of William Lloyd Garrison I say, and may all hearts unite in saying it:
God speed up the jubilee year
The whole world!
When freed from their heavy chains,
The oppressed will bow their knees in iniquity,
And bear the yoke of tyranny
I no longer eat beasts:—
This year will come and the reign of freedom
For the man, his rights were again looted
God hasten the day when human blood
It will stop flowing!
To be understood in any weather
The claims of human brotherhood,
And every return to evil, well -
Not beat by beat:—
That day will come, all disputes will end,
And become a loyal friend
God hasten the hour, the glorious hour,
If no one on earth
Must exercise sovereign power,
Nor does he bow down before a tyrant;
But all for the height of the tower of manhood,
By the very birth!—
That moment will come, for everyone, for everyone.
And out of his prison the slave
Until this year, day, hour,
I will fight with my head and my heart and my hand
To break the rod and rend the gyve, -
The plunderer stripped of his loot,-
Then experience heaven!
And never from my chosen station,
Whatever the danger or the price,
Image: Daguerreotype of Frederick Douglass, circa 1855 (author unknown). Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Rubel Collection, Part Gift and Promise of William Rubel, 2001 (2001756). Reproduced with permission.
Frederick Douglass--Abolitionist Leader
Douglass's goals were to "abolish slavery in all its forms and aspects, promote the moral and intellectual improvement of the COLORED PEOPLE, and hasten the day of FREEDOM to the Three Millions of our enslaved fellow countrymen." How else did Douglass promote freedom?
In the Narrative, Douglass considers slaveholding to be damaging not only to the slaves themselves, but to slave owners as well. The corrupt and reprehensible power that slave owners enjoy over their slaves has a detrimental effect on the slave owners' own moral health.What is the main message of Douglass's speech? ›
Douglass stated that the nation's founders were great men for their ideals of freedom. But in doing so he brings awareness to the hypocrisy of their ideals by the existence of slavery on American soil.What is Douglass saying in paragraph 3 which words and phrases make his point stronger? ›
What is Douglass saying in paragraph 3? Which words and phrases make his point stronger? In this paragraph Douglass states that he is speaking from the view of the slaves, “the slaves' point of view,” and that he believes the nation has never looked “blacker than” on this day.What did Frederick Douglass do to stop slavery? ›
Frederick Douglass worked tirelessly to make sure that emancipation would be one of the war's outcomes. He recruited African-American men to fight in the U.S. Army, including two of his own sons, who served in the famous 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.How did Frederick Douglass advocate for the end of slavery? ›
One of the major ways Douglass advocated for change was through his newspapers. In the early part of his career he worked for William Lloyd Garrison's abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator. In 1847 Douglass moved to Rochester, New York to publish his own newspaper The North Star.What was Douglass's motto when he started from slavery? ›
“The motto which I adopted when I started from slavery was this- 'Trust no man! '”Why is Frederick Douglass's Narrative so important? ›
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself (1845), often considered the epitome of the slave narrative, links the quest for freedom to the pursuit of literacy, thereby creating a lasting ideal of the African American hero committed to intellectual…What is Douglass's point of view? ›
First Person (Central) Douglass's narrative is, as the title page tells us, "Written By Himself." He's the book's main character – almost the only character – so most of the narrative is just him talking to us about himself. Simple, right?What are 3 important things Frederick Douglass did? ›
- He taught himself how to read and write. ...
- He helped other slaves become literate. ...
- He fought a 'slavebreaker' ...
- He escaped from slavery in a disguise. ...
- He took his name from a famous poem. ...
- He travelled to Britain to avoid re-enslavement. ...
- He advocated women's rights.
Perhaps the main theme of Douglass's Narrative is that slavery dehumanizes men mentally as well as physically. To make this point, Douglass carefully documents the psychological violence of slaveholding. In Chapters III and IV, he focuses on the damaging effects of slaveholders' inconsistency of punishment.When did Frederick Douglass say it is easier to build strong children? ›
In 1855 Frederick Douglass had a series of dialogues with white slave-owners who could not, or would not, comprehend that slavery was morally wrong and it was during these communications that he wrote, “it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men“.How many times did Douglass try to escape slavery before he was successful? ›
Douglass try to escape from slavery 2 times before he succeeded. He got help on his last time to try to escape with lady named Anna Marie, who was a free black woman in Baltimore who he had fallen in love with. On September 3, 1838, Douglass boarded a train to Havre de Grace, Maryland.What is Douglass conclusion? ›
The conclusion of “Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass” focuses on the hardships of Douglass' life as he enters adulthood, and his eventual escape from slavery as he heads north. The final two chapters and the appendix show a huge difference when compared to the first few chapters of the story.Why doesn't Douglass give facts of his escape from slavery? ›
He explains, however, that the chapter does not describe the exact means of his escape, as he does not want to give slaveholders any information that would help them prevent other slaves from escaping to the North.What was Douglass's most successful plan for learning to read? ›
Learning How To Read
““The plan which I adopted, and the one by which I was most successful, was that of making friends of all the little white boys whom I met in the street. As many of these as I could, I converted into teachers.”
He published three autobiographies, spent years writing and editing an influential abolitionist newspaper, broke barriers for African Americans in government service, served as an international spokesman and statesman, and helped combat racial prejudice during the Reconstruction Era.What are two themes of Douglass's Narrative? ›
The readers are exposed to two major themes, the first is the severity of slavery and the second is the lack of education the slaves are allowed. Frederick writes the narrative as his own personal history to demonstrate that slavery was an atrocious system.What was Frederick Douglass famous quote? ›
“The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful and virtuous.” “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” “To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.”What was Douglass most important lesson in his life? ›
Douglass narrative teaches about self-determination and courage. Despite the suffering he underwent under different slave-masters including in Covey's hand, he did not lose hope. He was determined to escape whether it meant losing his life. It is this determination that would help slaves overcome the unending slavery.
Douglass continued, secretly, to teach himself to read and write. He later often said, "knowledge is the pathway from slavery to freedom."What did Frederick Douglass believe in? ›
Douglass believed freedom of speech essential to abolishing slavery. Douglass believed that his own path to freedom had begun with his own literacy, and he was convinced that the spread of literacy and the exercise of freedom of speech and assembly was essential to the success of abolitionism.What is ironic about the slaves when they talk about their masters with other slaves? ›
The boastful conversations the slaves had about their master being the best reinforces the idea that they had nothing and so lived vicariously through their masters. They had nothing to be proud of so had to take pride in that. This is ironic given how their masters would treat them.What was the penalty for slaves telling the truth to their master? ›
He was immediately chained and handcuffed; and thus, without a moment's warning, he was snatched away, and forever sundered, from his family and friends, by a hand more unrelenting than death. This is the penalty of telling the truth, of telling the simple truth, in answer to a series of plain questions.What is Douglass argument in the first chapter? ›
Douglass predicts that so many children born of slaves and white masters will disprove the argument that slavery is justified by God's curse on Noah's son Ham, since before long, most slaves will be descended from both white and Black parents. (You can learn more about the Curse of Ham here.)What did Frederick Douglass learn as a child that changed his life? ›
In defiance of a state law banning slaves from being educated, Frederick, as a young boy, was taught the alphabet and a few simple words by Sophia Auld, the wife of Baltimore slaveholder Hugh Auld.What was Frederick Douglass best speech? ›
Frederick Douglass delivered his famous speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” in 1852, drawing parallels between the Revolutionary War and the fight to abolish slavery. He implored the Rochester, N.Y., audience to think about the ongoing oppression of Black Americans during a holiday celebrating freedom.Did Frederick Douglass say it is easier to build strong children than repair broken men? ›
'It is easier to build strong children, than repair broken men' - Frederick Douglass.Did Frederick Douglass say it is easier to build strong? ›
One such quote in the USA is by the abolitionist leader and author Frederick Douglass who in 1855, in dialogue with white-slave owners about the immortality of slavery, wrote, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”What does Douglass say was the turning point in his life? ›
These passages reflect four major turning points in Douglass's life: 1) the brutal whipping of his Aunt Hester, 2) the physical altercation with [Edward] Covey, 3) the gift of literacy, and 4) the reaction Douglass had to receiving freedom in the North.
What is Douglass's purpose for writing identify three passages that help him achieve his goal and explain how? ›
He relates three events that help him achieve his goal: his mistress teaching him to read, his further pursuit of instruction from “all the little white boys,” and the acquisition of certain reading materials that encouraged his own thoughts and feelings about slavery.On what does Douglass base the hope he expresses in this paragraph? ›
On what does Douglass base the hope he expresses in this paragraph? He looks to the past and the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence. For Douglass those ideals, if the nation can live up to them, make the United States, despite its flaws, a place of promise and hope for the enslaved.What is the main turning point of the story? ›
A turning point in a story is a moment in the plot when a character must make a decision that will change the course of the story.How did Frederick feel about leaving the plantation and going to Baltimore? ›
Douglass is not sad to leave the plantation, as he has no family ties or sense of home, like children usually have. He also feels he has nothing to lose, because even if his new home in Baltimore is full of hardship, it can be no worse than the hardships he has already seen and endured on the plantation.Is the turning point of the story *? ›
CLIMAX: the point of greatest tension or emotional intensity in a plot. The climax follows the rising action and precedes the falling action (denouement). Climax is the point at which the conflict reaches its greatest height and the crisis, or turning point in the action occurs.What is the main point of Frederick Douglass learning to read and write? ›
In his experience, he believes that learning to read and write is his way to relieve his pain about “being a slave for life.” He quickly finds out that reading and writing are the only ways he can be free from slavery. Douglass explains that his mistress stops teaching him after her husband told her not to do so.