Frederick Douglass’ Fourth of July Speech

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On July 5th of 1852, the Ladies Antislavery Society of Rochester requested that emancipated slave, Fredrick Douglass, speak for their celebration of the United States’ national independence. Douglass accepted this request and presented a powerful speech that explained and argued his true beliefs and feelings concerning this event. He considered their decision to request him as a speaker on that day to be a mockery of his past and of the ongoing status of blacks as slaves in America at the time. Nevertheless, Douglass skillfully constructed his speech utilizing various methods that forced his audience to take him seriously and think twice about the issue of slavery in America. His passion about the subject, his ability to captivate his audience, and his persuasive skills combine to form a clearly effective speech that continues to be studied to this day. Douglass warmed up his audience by commending the moral and patriotic excellence of their forefathers. He then delivered the argument of his speech which cleverly criticized the hypocrisy of the institution of slavery and those who tolerated or supported it. Yet, to conclude his speech, Douglass asserts that there is still hope for the young nation so as not to leave the audience completely discouraged. The way in which Douglass constructed and delivered this speech had a lasting impact and left his audience with an effectively argued point to consider. In his speech, Frederick Douglass made it clear that he believed that the continued toleration and support of slavery from both a religious and legal standpoint was utterly absurd when considering the ideals and principles advocated by America’s forefathers. He began by praising the American framers of the Constitution, an... ... middle of paper ... ...hout his speech making for a powerful argument overall. The effectiveness and excellent structure of Frederick Douglass’ Fourth of July speech is apparent. His rhetorical arguments served as powerful rebuts to opposing contentions and forced his audience to consider the undeniable error in their nation’s policy and approach regarding slavery. Douglass also compelled his audience to take his words seriously by establishing his credibility, recognizing his audience, and skillfully constructing and executing his speech. The end product of his efforts became a provocative speech at the time and a historical delivery in the future. Douglass succeeded in giving a speech that clearly and effectively argued the absurdity of the institution of slavery in America, leaving it up to his audience to consider his position and decide for themselves how to act in the future.

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