What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July a Rhetorical Analysis

1103 words 5 pages
In his speech, What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?, Frederick Douglass passionately argues that to the slave, and even to the freed African American, the Fourth of July is no more than a mockery of the grossest kind. Douglas uses many rhetorical strategies to convey his powerful emotions on the subject, and the end result is a very effectively argued point. Douglass begins by asking a series of rhetorical questions, not without the use of sarcasm. He refers to "that" Declaration of Independence, instead of "the" Declaration of Independence, to stress the separation between his people and those who are not oppressed. In the next paragraph, he continues to ask rhetorical questions. The purpose of all these questions is to give …show more content…

He goes into detail about each different aspect of why African Americans have the same natural right to freedom as do any other human beings. One by one, he suggests he argue about the slave being a man, that man be entitled to liberty, that it is wrong to make men "brutes", and finally, that slavery is not divine. With each, he elaborates on the fact that each argument is so basic, so implicit, that it need not be argued. It all flows back to his own argument about the holiday on which he speaks. Freedom is the natural right of all men. Arguing against it is like trying to disprove a fact of science, so arguing for it is pointless because the evidence is enough proof already. If a man is a man, then freedom is what he is entitled to, and if this can not be seen, then arguing for it will do no good. After this point is made, he makes a very powerful statement to back up this idea. "For it is not light that is needed but fire"(pg.4). The light is the obvious- the arguments for the freedom of all men, but the fire is what is missing, what is desperately needed- the drastic awakening of America to its own crimes against humanity, and the imperative of changing this, because it can not be undone, but it can only get worse. His words seem to flow with a heated fervency which could not be stopped. One could only imagine actually hearing the speech when it was given by Douglass himself. It would make sense to compare him