What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July By Frederick Douglass Speech

1213 Words 5 Pages
The United States of America prides itself as being the Land of the Free, but Frederick Douglass blatantly challenges this in his speech “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”. On July 5, 1852, a mere two years after the infamous passing of the Fugitive Slave Act, Frederick Douglass delivers a scathing speech to his fellow neighbors in Rochester, New York. He establishes his credibility as a moral, honest, and educated man by alluding to his former life as a slave. Humbly standing before his audience, Douglass stuns them with his caustic words, quick wit, and biting retorts to convey his disdain for the Fourth of July celebration. Referencing America’s past fight for freedom, Douglass compares the past with the present to expose the hypocrisy of American freedom and to compel the Northerners to grant liberty and equal rights to all African Americans. Frederick’s speech closely mirrors the classical structure of the rhetoric, and in his introduction, he ensures his integrity shines through. Douglass’s neighbors already know his story and undeniably respect him enough to request he deliver the traditional Independence Day address. Even so, Douglass reiterates his ethos by briefly mentioning “the distance between this platform and the …show more content…
While flagrantly obvious to Frederick, his audience is generally unaware America’s oppression of his people echoes the British’s oppression of the colonists. To clarify the irony behind the entire situation, he heavily ridicules his Northern, white audience. They, like the British oppressors of the past, place the value of riches before people: “Whatever makes for the wealth or for the reputation of Americans, and can be had cheap! will be found by Americans.” Douglass indicates the people who had once been oppressed have mutated into oppressors; America has become

Related Documents