Thursday, September 22, 2011


     I really enjoyed this reading.  Douglass argues his opinion very professionally and truthfully attacking every possible reason a slave holder could give for justifying his oppression.
     In the beginning, Douglass addresses the past and goes to great lengths to express his respect for the founding fathers of our nation (all the risks they took, all the oppression they were under, etc.)  I thought it was very interesting how he used the pronoun your in paragraph four when addressing the nation.  He does not include himself in the discussion.  I think he is subtly making a point that he is not the same as all the other free, white men in the country.  I also want to point out a quote he made in paragraph nine; "Oppression makes a wise man mad."  Throughout his entire discussion of the past, Douglass is making veiled references to slavery asking the men he is addressing to reconsider the American tradition of slavery.
     In the present discussion, Douglass becomes more obvious about the argument of his speech.  I thought the biblical metaphor to Abraham and Washington in paragraph one was very powerful and shows just how much Americans respected George Washington.  The altar symbol that was introduced in Stowe's writing is reintroduced in paragraph two.  It is obvious that religion and American patriotism were closely tied together in the early years of American history.  In paragraph four he begins to point out the irony of his speaking at this particular engagement and in paragraph six makes a very bold statement: "...the great sin and shame of America!" referring to slavery.  Immediately after this he backs himself up with specific examples concerning state laws in paragraph seven.  This is something about Douglass I really admire.  Not only does he speak what is on his heart and mind, but he never fails to provide specific examples that other people can look upon and understand where he is coming from.  In paragraph twelve he introduces "scorching irony" which is what really highlights the disgraces of American slavery (or it did for me anyway!)
     The internal slave trade section reminded me of the scene that Stowe illustrated in her writing.  Here, Douglass utilizes his personal experiences to convey the hypocrisy of Americans when it comes to slavery when referring to his mistress and how she sympathized with him when it came to slave trading.  I think this is smart of Douglass because it makes his speaking more convincing.
     The conclusion of his speech addresses religion in America and how the churches around him are being hypocritical at best and doing nothing about "the great sin of America."  I think these sections are what "seal the deal" when it comes to his speech.  The majority of citizens in this time period were not going to do anything unless the church approved.  Because the church approved or did not blatantly disapprove of slavery, it was a powerful tradition that took lots of time and hard work to get rid of.  Douglass begs his readers and the leaders of churches to take some action and put into practice the words of the Bible that they revere so much.  I thought it was interesting that Douglass sees slavery as endangering the Union entirely!  We've seen that in previous readings and it is very interesting to me how people predicted the Civil War.
     I really admire how Douglass ends his speech with hope and respect for the country.  It takes a good man to say that he has hope in the country that has caused him so much pain and distress personally.  Talk about a convincing speech!

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you, about Frederick Douglass making an interesting read. I think that he why he was such an important historical figure.