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Many copies of one section of it, beginning in para. While referring to the celebrations of the Independence Day in the United States the day before, the speech explores the constitutional and values-based arguments against the continued existence of Slavery in the United States. As well, Douglass referred not only to the captivity of enslaved people, but to the merciless exploitation and the cruelty and torture that slaves were subjected to in the United States.
Heath and D. Waymer called this topic the "paradox of the positive" because it highlights how something positive and meant to be positive can also exclude individuals. Douglass said that slaves owed nothing to and had no positive feelings towards the founding of the United States:. What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us?
What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. Douglass also stresses the view that slaves and free Americans are equal in nature. He expresses his belief in the speech that he and other slaves are fighting the same fight in terms of wishing to be free that White Americansthe ancestors of the white people he is addressing, fought seventy years earlier.
They were statesmen, patriots, and heroes, and…with them, justice, liberty, and humanity were final; not slavery and oppression. Douglass also says that if the residents of America believe that slaves are "men",  : they should be treated as such. True Christiansaccording to Douglass, should not stand idly by while the rights and liberty of others are stripped away. Christianity is of importance in Douglass's speech. He does not speak against religion in general, but rather how religion deals with slavery, specifically in America. He is outraged by the lack of responsibility and indifference towards slavery that many sects have taken around the nation.
He says that, if anything, many churches actually stand behind slavery and support the continued existence of the institution.
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Douglass equates this to being worse than many other things that are banned, in particular, books and plays that are banned for infidelity. They convert the very name of religion into an engine of tyranny and barbarous cruelty, and serve to confirm more infidels, in this age, than all the infidel writings of Thomas PaineVoltaireand Bolingbroke put together have done.
Nevertheless, Douglass claims that this can change. The United States does not have to stay the way it is. The country can progress like it has before, transforming from being a colony of a far-away king to an independent nation. Great Britainand many other countries of that time, had already abolished slavery from its territories. The British accomplished this through religion or more specifically, the church. Because the church stood behind the decision to abolish the selling and buying of human people, so did the rest of the country.
Douglass argues that religion is the center of the problem but also the main solution to it. Douglass believed that slavery could be eliminated with the support of the church, and also with the reexamination of what the Bible was actually saying.
You profess to believe, "that, of one blood, God made all nations of men to dwell on the face of all the earth," and hath commanded all men everywhere to love one another; yet you notoriously hate and glory in your hatred all men whose skins are not colored like your own. Douglass wants his audience to realize that they are not living up to their proclaimed beliefs.
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He talks about how they, being Americans, are proud of their country and their religion and how they rejoice in the name of freedom and liberty and yet they do not offer those things to millions of their country's residents. He employs irony to do a lot of this work. Douglass spends time celebrating the efforts of the founding fathers of America for fighting back against the tyranny of England when he says .
Oppression makes a wise man mad. Your fathers were wise men, and if they did not go mad, they became restive under this treatment. They felt themselves the victims of grievous wrongs, wholly incurable in their colonial capacity.
With brave men there is always a remedy for oppression. Just here, the idea of a total separation of the colonies from the crown was born! It was a startling idea, much more so, than we, at this distance of time, regard it.
The timid and the prudent as has been intimated of that day, were, of course, shocked and alarmed by it. Douglass details the hardships past Americans once endured when they were members of British colonies and validates their feelings of ill treatment. He does all this to show the irony of their inability to sympathize with the Black people they oppressed in cruel ways that the forefathers they valorized never experienced.
He validates the feelings of injustice the Founders felt then juxtaposes their experiences with vivid descriptions of the harshness of slavery when he says: . The crack you heard, was the sound of the slave-whip; the scream you heard, was from the woman you saw with the babe. Her speed had faltered under the weight of her child and her chains! Follow the drove to New Orleans.
Attend the auction; see men examined like horses; see the forms of women rudely and brutally exposed to the shocking gaze of American slave-buyers. See this drove sold and separated forever; and never forget the deep, sad sobs that arose from that scattered multitude. Yet this is but a glance at the American slave-trade, as it exists, at this moment, in the ruling part of the United States.
Essentially, Douglass criticizes his audience's pride for a nation that claims to value freedom though it is composed of people who continuously commit atrocities against Blacks. It is said that America is built on the idea of liberty and freedom, but Douglass tells his audience that more than anything, it is built on inconsistencies and hypocrisies that have been overlooked for so long they appear to be truths.
According to Douglass, these inconsistencies have made the United States the object of mockery and often contempt among the various nations of the world. Read its preamble, consider its purposes. Is slavery among them?
Is it at the gateway? It is neither. In this respect, Douglass' views converged with that of Abraham Lincoln 's  in that those politicians who were saying that the Constitution was a justification for their beliefs in regard to slavery were doing so dishonestly. However, if slavery were abolished and equal rights given to all, that would no longer be the case.
In the end, Douglass wants to keep his hope and faith in humanity high. Douglass declares that true freedom can not exist in America if Black people are still enslaved there and is adamant that the end of slavery is near.
Knowledge is becoming more readily available, Douglass said, and soon the American people will open their eyes to the atrocities they have been inflicting on their fellow Americans. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. During the Civil War, Douglass said that since Massachusetts had been the first state to the Patriot cause during the American Revolutionary Warblack men should go to Massachusetts to enlist in the Union Army.
In the United States, the speech is widely taught in history and English classes in high school and college. Bibby argues that because many of the editions produced for educational use are abridged, they often misrepresent Douglass's original through omission or editorial focus.
A statue of Douglass erected in Rochester in was torn down on July 5, —the th anniversary of the speech. Speech by Frederick Douglass. The 4th of July Address, delivered in Corinthian Hall, by Frederick Douglass, is published on good paper, and makes a neat pamphlet of forty s.
The 'Address' may be had at this office, price ten cents, a single copy, or six dollars per hundred. What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July? A recording of the speech made for LibriVox.
July 2, Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 13, Blassingame, John W. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN American Philosophies: An Anthology.
Malden, Mass. Teaching American History. Retrieved March 24, Frederick Douglass and the Fourth of July. Martin's Publishing Group. Los Angeles Times.
December 13, Princeton University Press. She was first in the War of Independence; first to break the chains of her slaves; first to make the black man equal before the law; first to admit colored children to her common schools, and she was first to answer with her blood the alarm cry of the nation, when its capital was menaced by rebels. Autobiographiesp.
July 6, Archived from the original on July 7, Retrieved July 7, The Washington Post. The Guardian.
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Directed by Tara Garver Mikhael. Brooklyn Public Library. Frederick Douglass.