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Frederick Douglass Essay

540 words - 3 pages

On the 5th of July, 1852, Frederick Douglass gave a speech in response to being asked to speak on the 4th of July. “What to the Slave is the 4th of July,” was the title and an extraordinary speech, it was. It listed many valid criticisms of Independence Day Celebrations and America in 1852, but instilled hope that with a nation as young as America, change was inevitable.

ne of his criticisms of Independence Day was its hypocritical ideals. In his speech Douglass states, “standing with god and the crushed bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the bible, which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call question and to ...view middle of the document...

Another criticism of Independence Day celebrations in 1852 was that it mocked slaves with freedom from the joyous celebrations of their masters. Douglass states “the blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, property, and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me”. This statement was referring to Douglass’ slave status. He went on to say “the character of this nation has never looked blacker to me than on the fourth of July. In my opinions both assessments of Independence Day celebrations were undoubtedly effective simply because the logic they input could not be argued with. Frederick says “there is no man beneath the canopy of heaven, that does not know that slavery is wrong for him. What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot… where all is plain there is nothing to be argued.”

His personal criticisms had more of an agenda in the hay day of slavery but his words to a point still hold true today. Independence Day is still hypocritical in a more abstruse manner. For example not every man is given complete liberty or allowed to pursue their happiness, a staple of the constitution. At the end of the time his elucidation of Independence Day served his purpose by pointing out several flaws in American society and with the celebration of Independence Day then and even now.

Works Cited
Gates, Henry Louis., and Nellie Y. McKay. The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2004. 462-73. Print.

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