h�b```b``e`a`����π ���@q�P�>5N�����63O��ᾠ�a��F+����nQ� ����AG��!�g�6t.�@��"5� -�B`m���IL_�N��UJvXpd���52~�8_$������ H3�~n�&cb#D���5c.A�,��4k��a`,|f�0 ��:| Critical Essays The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro Frederick Douglass was a fiery orator and his speeches were often published in various abolitionist newspapers. I do not remember ever to have appeared as a speaker before any assembly No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light. They were great men, too — great enough to give frame to a great age. The far off and almost fabulous Pacific rolls in grandeur at our feet. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They that can, may; I cannot. from your Reading List will also remove any Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation's jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. . Douglass condemns the profits made from the slave trade, and, once again, he compares the treatment of slaves to that of animals. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute books are covered with enactments forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read or to write. Space is comparatively annihilated. and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us? That hour will come, to each, to all, And from his Prison-house, to thrall Go forth. %%EOF ", Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions, whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, today, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. Nobody doubts it. Similarly, he argues that while the American Declaration of Independence states that "all men are created equal," American society creates an under-class of men and women. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable. Douglass returns to his theme of American democracy and freedom. Douglass sides with those activists who believe that the founding fathers meant to eliminate slavery and that the Constitution reflects this. Douglass begins his speech by addressing "Mr. President, Friends and Fellow Citizens." The Autobiography as Genre, as Authentic Text. "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro" Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. CliffsNotes study guides are written by real teachers and professors, so no matter what you're studying, CliffsNotes can ease your homework headaches and help you score high on exams. Oceans no longer divide, but link nations together. Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? From Boston to London is now a holiday excursion. But such is not the state of the case. That year will come, and freedom's reign, To man his plundered rights again Restore. War Timeline | Among his well-known speeches is "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro," presented in Rochester, New York, on July 5, 1852, a version of which he published as a booklet. Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth. out her hand unto God." The real subject of his speech, he concedes, is American slavery. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. God speed the day when human blood Shall cease to flow! Frederick Douglass was a fiery orator and his speeches were often published in various abolitionist newspapers. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. To do so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding. As for the mildly sympathetic spectator who complains that the abolitionist fails to make a favorable impression by constantly denouncing slavery rather than making persuasive arguments, Douglass retorts by saying that there are no more arguments to be made. For him, while it professes freedom, it does not give all people that right. When from their galling chains set free, Th' oppress'd shall vilely bend the knee, And wear the yoke of tyranny Like brutes no more. "The arm of the Lord is not shortened," and the doom of slavery is certain. He believes that anti-slavery sentiments will eventually triumph over pro-slavery forces. To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. More Resources |. Jefferson's Account | There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia which, if committed by a black man (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of the same crimes will subject a white man to the like punishment. "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. He touches on the history of the American Revolutionaries' fight for freedom against their legal bondage under British rule. Here, he is likely addressing the president of the Anti-Slavery Society — not the president of the United States. A speech given at Rochester, New York, July 5, 1852. 117 0 obj <> endobj Among his well-known speeches is "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro," presented in Rochester, New York, on July 5, 1852, a version of which he published as a booklet. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory. He pushes forward his thesis: "This Fourth July [sic] is yours, not mine" [italics his]. Standing with God and the crushed and 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 in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery Ñ the great sin and shame of America! In fact, slavery was banned in the British colonies in 1834 and in the French colonies in 1848; politicians in those countries could no longer claim to support the rights of man while allowing slavery. No! Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. Declaration House | "I will not equivocate; I will not excuse"; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just. In every clime be understood, The claims of human brotherhood, And each return for evil, good, Not blow for blow; That day will come all feuds to end, And change into a faithful friend Each foe. Throughout this speech, as well as his life, Douglass advocated equal justice and rights, as well as citizenship, for blacks. There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven that does not know that slavery is wrong for him. bookmarked pages associated with this title. speaking of it relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively. The time was when such could be done. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! Douglass recalls that when he was a child, the cries of chained slaves passing his house on route to the docks in the middle of the night had a chilling, unsettling effect on him. Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? Frederick Douglass was an American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. It is often studied in literature classes today. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today? I can today take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people! — The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The Celestial Empire, the mystery of ages, is being solved. To the slave, Douglass tells the audience, "your 4th of July is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license [for enslaving blacks] . had I the ability, and could reach the nation's ear, I would, today, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. He had been invited to speak about what the Fourth of July means for America's black population, and while the first part of his speech praises what the founding fathers did for this country, his speech soon develops into a condemnation of the attitude of American society toward slavery. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. O! That which is inhuman, cannot be divine! My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is American slavery.