Your article is base on What, to the Slave, Is the Fourth Of July” Frederick Douglass (1852)
- Whatis Frederick Douglass’s main message in this speech on the Fourth of July? What is the argument that he wants to drive home to his audience in 1852?
- Whichsection of his speech affected you the most and why was it so memorable?
- Jefferson Davis is sarcastic toward Seward in making his point that “not all labor of thesouthern states was performed by ” What is his primary point about slavery and the relationship between menial labor in the north and slavery in the south?
- Davisargues that southern slaves are protected under law, and that “slavery is a form of civil government instituted for a class of people not fit to govern themselves.” In what ways is this a distortion of the reality of southern slavery? Why insist they be under private or state control? What is Davis’s attitude in the closing paragraph?
- Compare Frederick Douglass’s vision of slavery in 1852 with that of Jefferson Davis in1860?
- Compare Jefferson Davis’s vision of southern society and slavery with that of the slaveowner, Kate Stone, at her plantation of Brokenburn in her How does this vision stand up to Frederick Douglass’s recollection of slavery?
- Whowas Sojourner Truth and what was her message to President Lincoln? Why had she been afraid for him? Why was she grateful?
- Howdid Lincoln respond? What does this tell you about the leadership of Abraham Lincoln?
Frederick Douglass and 'What to the Slave Is the Fourth Of July?'
The following essay attempts a discussion on the various historical events that were related to the American history regarding the abolishment of the slavery. The essay attempts a discussion on a few selected documents of the era.
In the speech entitled “What, to the Slave, Is the Fourth Of July?” Fredrick Douglass argues the fact that the slaves irrespective of their current status considered the fourth of July to be a mere show of mockery. The celebration of the Fourth of July is, according to Douglass, is one of the grossest possible shows of mockery for the people who had spent their lives in conditions of slavery. The orator states that the “Declaration of Independence” has clearly pointed out the separation that exists within the oppressed and the oppressors who have been residing within the territorial boundaries of the country, the United States of America (Douglass 1852). The major point that was presented by the orator in the speech in discussion refers to the hypocrisy that was existent within the society during those times.
The orator of the speech Frederick Douglass, through his memorable speech aims to discuss the fact that the celebrations of the Fourth of July often end up reminding the people of the unfulfilled promise of the equal shares of liberty that was promised to the residents of the country. The eminent orator has addressed the fact that the celebrations on the fourth of July aimed to remind the aforementioned section of the society of the unfulfilled promise on the equality of the liberty of all the residents of the country in the Declaration of the Independence that was signed on this day making the day memorable (p. 2). Douglass (1852) thus, through his speech depicts a huge criticism of the institution of slavery and the ways in which the people belonging to this institution were deprived of their rights as well.
The section of the speech that had affected me the most was the section of the speech wherein the orator of the speech had discussed the factors which made the gross mockery of the celebrations more prominent. The orator is known to throw extreme criticism towards the celebrations and discusses that the fact that the celebrations of the Fourth of July reveals to the American slave of the injustice that was meted out to him and the other members who have been serving as slaves (p. 4). In the section that appealed to me, the orator tends to furiously oppose the celebrations on the Fourth of July as it tends to remind the slaves of the fact that they had been hugely wronged by the members of the society who had been playing the role of the oppressors of the land (Douglass 1852). This section of the speech intends to remind them of the fact that the Declaration of the Independence had not meted out the proper amount of justice to the sections of the society that was occupied by the slaves.
The major point that helps to make the speech memorable in the history of the United States of America is the fact that the speech points out the hypocrisy that was maintained by the American society towards the citizens of the country. The Declaration of Independence had in fact led to the conditions wherein a certain section of the population was considered to be more privileged than the other sections thereby raising a question on the issues of equality within the country (Davis 1989) (p. 8-11). On the contrary, the main point that was made by Jefferson Davis is the fact that the laws of the nation aimed at providing equal amount of protection to the people who have been residing in both the north and the south.
Jefferson Davis and the Laws of the Nation
The statesman had opined that the equality was served to both people putting in menial labor in the north and the people executing slavery in the south. The orator in this case appears to have been adopting a stance that states that the partiality was imposed upon the Creator of the human beings and that the state had been abiding by the distinction that was put forth by the Creator himself (p. 8-11).
There is a basic difference between the visions of slavery by Douglass and Davis (Davis 1989). The former orator is observed to be an eminent critic of the inequality that exists among the residents of the nation (p. 8-11). However, the latter is observed to have justified the differences in the races and thus the treatment that is meted out to the people.
The slave owner in this case is observed to have employed a number of slaves in the plantation wherein they were employed in the cotton plantation. The view of the owner is in agreement with the insights that were shared by Jefferson Davis. The owner feels that the slaves are happy to have been working at the cotton plantation (Anderson and Faust 1995). This in turn is in conflict with the viewpoint of Douglass who refuses to believe that the slaves did ever enjoy their share of work (p. 12-13). Douglass places arguments on the insensitivity of the residents of the country on the matters that relate to the freedom of the people who have been residing in the country.
Sojourner Truth was one of the activists of the women rights and an abolitionist of an African-American origin. The basic message that she had conveyed to the then president Lincoln was that she had been wary of the way he would treat the people of the country but however was proven wrong by the course of actions that were undertaken by the President (Murphy 2011). She had been afraid for the president due to the fear of him being unaccepted by the masses and rather the electoral college of the time (p. 14-16). This notion however, was abolished from the mind of Sojourner Truth after the lapse of four years into the presidentship of Lincoln. The president was gladly accepted by the people and the reforms that he had introduced were not criticized but were accepted with open arms.
The response of Lincoln had been cordial and he had promised to help Truth in her campaigns for equality (Murphy 2011). This reveals the fact that Lincoln was a true leader and a patriot. This reaction on the part of the president further reveals his attitude towards the residents of the country.
Thus, from the above discussion, it might be concluded that all the articles that were considered for the paper dealt with the distinction that existed within the residents of the country on the basis of their color and their status within the country.
Anderson, J.Q. and Faust, D.G., 1995. Brokenburn: The Journal of Kate Stone, 1861–1868. Louisiana State University Press.
Davis, J. 1989. The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Volume 6. pp. Pp. 277-84.
Douglass, F., 1852. What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?. The Heath Anthology of American Literature, 1, pp.1818-1836.
Murphy, L.G., 2011. Sojourner Truth: A Biography. ABC-CLIO.
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