Frederick Douglass was an eloquent orator whose remarks were frequently published in abolitionist publications. What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July, delivered at Rochester, New York, on July 5, 1852, is one of his most well-known lectures, which he later published as a booklet (Waxman, par. 1). However, a critical factor in this analysis is an aspect of the speech mentioned above as self-evident truths presented by Douglass. Thus, it will be possible to fully reveal the chosen concept by referring to direct quotations from the speech and drawing appropriate conclusions.
The main topic of the examination, as indicated, is self-evident truths; for this reason, it is necessary to explain in detail what the term means in the context of the speech. This case refers to the part of the Declaration of Independence affirming fundamental social, moral, and ethical standards. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are crushed equal,” reads the basic thesis of these statements (“Declaration of Independence: A Transcription.”, par. 2). Consequently, it is necessary to analyze Douglas’s speech and select direct quotations for parsing based on understanding the concept described above.
One of the essential aspects of the speech in question is the reference to the Church. “Yet you notoriously hate (and glory in your hatred) all men whose skins are not colored like your own,” Douglass states when talking about Bible (Douglass 17). From the quote above, he relied on self-evident truths and observed the behavior of religious organizations that had turned a blind eye to slavery and segregation throughout American history. Moreover, the speaker wants his listeners to understand that they are not acting according to their stated principles. He discusses how they, as Americans, are fond of their nation and religion and how they exult in the name of liberty and freedom, even though they do not provide those qualities to millions of their nation’s population. This aspect is a vital indicator of the failure of the social strata of the United States at the time.
On the other hand, the inequality of people concerning ideologies and social worldviews, in this case, related to the position of the black population in society, is also pointed out. “Your fathers were wise men, and if they did not go mad, they became restive under this treatment,” Douglass explains, apparently indicating that not all whites were comfortable with separation and slavery (Douglass 3). This speech segment points to the idea that it is not just black people who suffer from racism but all people who do not profess anti-human values. From this, one may conclude that the speaker follows the principle of self-evident truths, speaking of the suffering of all people and their equality.
In conclusion, the aspects of Douglass’ rhetoric indicated in the speech correctly interpret and apply the concept described above. By citing specific quotations and parsing their connotational meaning, it has become possible to assess how ideas about the equality of all people are integrated. Moreover, despite the title of the speech, one can assume that it was addressed to all segments of the population, describing their heartache as well. This speech became a symbol of the struggle against racism and brought about several significant changes in the future that are now positively affecting American society.
“Declaration of Independence: A Transcription.” National Archives, 2021, Web.
Waxman, Olivia. “‘What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?’: The History of Frederick Douglass’ Searing Independence Day Oration.” Time, Web.
Douglass, Frederick. What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July? Mint Editions, 2021.