Compare Frederick Douglass, “Fourth of July” with either Henry Highland Garnet, “An Address to the Slaves of the United States of America” or Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (excerpt) in terms of their treatment of the question of slavery and freedom in the United States: How do the writers define slavery? How do they define freedom? What is the relationship between the two?During the nineteen century, many people have participated in the abolition of slavery. These figures of history have earned the title of heroes. They are not only because they succeeded in their protests, but also because they were among the first black people to stand up courageously and send a call to all slaves to claim their freedom and denounce the system in place. Henry HighlandGarnet and Frederick Douglass are two examples, among many, of leaders in the abolitionist movements. These two personalities are both significant because they have lived the pre and post slave period. They knew what it was to be slave and also what it was to be free. In this paper, we will focus on a comparison of their speeches: “An Address to the Slaves of the United States of America” and “Fourthof July”. We will analyze how the two writers approach the system of slavery, freedom and the relationship between them.
From a first reading of Henry Garnet’s speech an as we can obviously guess from the title, “An Address to the Slaves of the United States of America,” the author here is speaking directly to the slaves. He starts his address by setting up a link between him and the slaves,this in order to have their trust and their attention. He calls them “Brethren and fellow citizens,” then he emphasizes the relationship between them by saying “many of you are bound to us, not only by the ties of common humanity, but we are connected by the more tender relations of parents, wives, husbands and sisters and friends.” This conjures up a feeling of a shared background and origin.Frederick Douglass’s speech, in contrast primarily addressed to the white people to whom he addresses with a very particular strategy. He goes back and forth changing sides. He considers himself as part of them by using the terms “ friend” and “fellow citizens” later then, he shows the difference by letting them know that they are not similar, expressing the gap that exits between him and thosepeople, He frequently uses the world “your” which shows a demarcation from them.
The tone of the speakers is also something obvious in both speeches. Garnet speaks directly to the slaves with an upset tone, he sends a call for resistance to the slaves. He puts them right away in front of the facts at the beginning of his address. he evokes the subject of slavery with furry, giving to it severalappellations such as “unhappy condition”, “nation’s sins” or “diabolical injustice” and talks about how much the single word of slavery is synonymous of misery. He brings up the controversial topic of slavery and refers primarily to the mental aspect of slavery, he doesn’t not really focus on the physical aspect of it because he is trying to bring them to rebellion. Douglass on the other hand isvery particular with his style. He starts his speech with a humble tone. He begins with a performance of humility by saying “He who could address this audience without a quailing sensation, has stronger nerves than I have” this brings the people to whom he’s addressing to think of him as someone inferior as they have always thought of black people. later on, he switches tone by attacking thesystems in place. As Garnet, he denounces the system of slavery, which he qualifies as “the Great sin and shame of America”. He brings up the constitutions, mocking the system that he says is contradicting itself because what is said is not what is done. He uses the mask strategically, wanting them to read between the lines. He makes it obvious that he wants them to know what he is doing.
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