While drawing encouragement from the Declaration of Independence, the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. The coming into being of a nation, in any circumstances, is an interesting event. How he learned how to read, fought for what he think is right, and escaped his horrible masters. The speech is perhaps the most widely known of all of Frederick Douglass' writings save his autobiographies. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost. And it would go hard with that politician who presumed to solicit the votes of the people without inscribing this motto on his banner.
It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing, and a bye-word to a mocking earth. It carries your minds back to the day, and to the act of your great deliverance; and to the signs, and to the wonders, associated with that act, and that day. The sin of which it is guilty is one of omission as well as of commission. Senator Berrien tell us that the Constitution is the fundamental law, that which controls all others. Its future might be shrouded in gloom, and the hope of its prophets go out in sorrow.
Need I tell you that the Jews are not the only people who built the tombs of the prophets, and garnished the sepulchres of the righteous? It is a slander upon their memory, at least, so I believe. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes that would disgrace a nation of savages. I am not that man. Douglass calls for fire and thunder, because less forceful tactics have so far been useless in improving conditions for black people. Where these go, may also go the merciless slave-hunter. Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us.
The American holiday commemorates the adoption of the —next to the Constitution, the U. The iron shoe, and crippled foot of China must be seen, in contrast with nature. The minister of American justice is bound by the law to hear but one side; and that side, is the side of the oppressor. No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost. He says there is no person on earth who would be in favor of becoming a slave himself.
In the early 1850s, tensions over slavery were high across the county. But, your fathers, who had not adopted the fashionable idea of this day, of the infallibility of government, and the absolute character of its acts, presumed to differ from the home government in respect to the wisdom and the justice of some of those burdens and restraints. My business, if I have any here to-day, is with the present. This, for the purpose of this celebration, is the 4th of July. This is esteemed by some as a national trait—perhaps a national weakness. What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Great streams are not easily turned from channels, worn deep in the course of ages.
I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. They are a trouble to me; I am weary to bear them; and when ye spread forth your hands I will hide mine eyes from you. While the blind rejoice, the oppressed are driven further into sadness. There is hope in the thought, and hope is much needed, under the dark clouds which lower above the horizon. An interesting point can be brought up at this moment: his immediate audience during the delivery of this speech in July of 1852 was comprised of white abolitionists.
Throughout this speech, as well as his life, Douglass advocated equal justice and rights, as well as citizenship, for blacks. Take the American slave-trade, which, we are told by the papers, is especially prosperous just now. Their conduct was wholly unexceptionable. Their statesmanship looked beyond the passing moment, and stretched away in strength into the distant future. Douglas uses many rhetorical strategies to convey his powerful emotions on the subject, and the end result is a very effectively argued point.
Take the American slave-trade, which, we are told by the papers, is especially prosperous just now. Its future might be shrouded in gloom, and the hope of its prophets go out in sorrow. Not for thieves and robbers, enemies of society, merely, but for men guilty of no crime. Sign up for our twice-weekly. Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? They did so in the form of a resolution; and as we seldom hit upon resolutions, drawn up in our day whose transparency is at all equal to this, it may refresh your minds and help my story if I read it. He considers such a pro-slavery posture to be blasphemy because it gives cruelty a place in God's nature.
They believed in order; but not in the order of tyranny. They are a trouble to me; I am weary to bear them; and when ye spread forth your hands I will hide mine eyes from you. I take this law to be one of the grossest infringements of Christian Liberty, and, if the churches and ministers of our country were not stupidly blind, or most wickedly indifferent, they, too, would so regard it. Fully appreciating the hardship to be encountered, firmly believing in the right of their cause, honorably inviting the scrutiny of an on-looking world, reverently appealing to heaven to attest their sincerity, soundly comprehending the solemn responsibility they were about to assume, wisely measuring the terrible odds against them, your fathers, the fathers of this republic, did, most deliberately, under the inspiration of a glorious patriotism, and with a sublime faith in the great principles of justice and freedom, lay deep the corner-stone of the national superstructure, which has risen and still rises in grandeur around you. Read each part and answer the questions at the end of that part. But perhaps the biggest thing he looks at is how Douglass used emotion to connect the audience with the cause. I am glad, fellow-citizens, that your nation is so young.