Critical Analysis Of 'An Address To The Whites'

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Elias Boudinot’s speech “An Address to the Whites” was first given in the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, in May 1826. The speech sought white American support of the Cherokees in further assimilation into white society and for aid in this endeavour, as well as making a case for coexistence in an effort to protect the Cherokee Nation. Specifically, the “Address to the Whites” was part of Boudinot’s fundraising campaign for a Cherokee assembly and newspaper. Boudinot himself was Cherokee, though he had been taken from America and educated by missionaries at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall. This upbringing gave Boudinot a unique perspective on the issue of the Cherokee position
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Again, this shows Boudinot’s potential disassociation from Cherokee popular opinion. However, given that his audience would have consisted largely – if not entirely – of white Americans, Boudinot’s emphasis on Cherokee willingness for these measures would have been a significant rhetorical tool. The audience would have been more inclined to give aid to a willing group of people; it’s unlikely that Boudinot was ignorant of the Cherokee resistance movements, and his neglect to mention them is significant. Whether or not he intended this as a persuasive method or choosing wilful ignorance is…show more content…
Boudinot draws parallels between Cherokee and Christian religion as part of his argument that Cherokees and white Americans are not as far removed from one another as the audience may have believed. He compares the Cherokee “Supreme Being” to the Christian God, and calls this Being “the God of the white, the red, and the black man.” His knowledge of these two religions comes from the aforementioned evangelical Christian conversion that Boudinot underwent at Cornwall, which lends itself as a bridge between the two cultures. He quotes the Bible frequently, and uses the translation of the New Testament into the new Cherokee writing system that he helped develop as evidence for the Cherokee’s willingness to participate in and cooperate with white society. According to Jonathan Filler, Boudinot’s conversion to Christianity and education by the missionaries led to his desire to find “spiritual salvation” for the Cherokees. The use of religion to persuade and reach common ground with his audience, given that the speech was delivered in a church, works well in Boudinot’s

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