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Frederick Douglass(TM)s Voice for Abolition

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Matt Steiner History 141 Frederick Douglass Paper November 19, 2007 Frederick Douglass's Voice for Abolition Frederick Douglass is a former escaped slave and is one of the foremost leaders of the abolitionist movement, which fought to end slavery in the United States. Douglass had many achievements throughout his life. His life as a slave had a great impact on his writings and speeches when he achieved freedom. Douglass changed America through his accomplishment of writing simple and to the point about the "reality" of slavery in his book "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass", which told the story through the point of view himself as a slave. His experiences in slavery, religion, freedom, and work ultimately help in the writings of his speech "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July." This speech challenged this American "slave nation" and the abolition of slavery because the constitution built by the founding fathers was built on the idea of freedom of men. This paper will discuss the history of American slavery and some events that occurred in Douglass's narrative that led to and formed the famous Fourth of July speech. ...read more.


Here is where Douglass encounters many passages about freedom, liberty, democracy, virtue, religion, and much more (Douglass p.67). After he escaped to his freedom to New York on September 3, 1838, he made friends with William Lloyd Garrison. Garrison was the editor and writer for the Liberator, an abolitionist paper written to inform the public of the injustices to slaves calling for their freedom. This influenced Douglass even more and the formation of many writings and speeches to come. After the American Revolution, slavery became a more significant component in the American economy. The blacks had many struggles to gain their freedom. There were numerous laws that specifically took away slaves rights as men. The founding fathers fought during the American Revolution for freedom and liberty for humans, but limitations and what was considered human. To a slave, to be free means to be human. So since slaves do not have their freedom, they are not part of humanity. Douglass recognizes this and notes it in his speech "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July." ...read more.


He also argues strongly that the constitution is an anti-slavery document. "...the Constitution is a glorious document. Read its preamble, consider its purposes. Is slavery among them?" (Douglass p.168). Douglass uses French and European revolutionary ideas on how these countries couldn't allow slavery anymore while claiming rights of mankind. I found this speech and the narrative to be very moving. It has messages for all kinds of audiences. It's a story about a slave with ambition and a high degree of self-consciousness longing for his freedom and his chance to become his own master. Frederick Douglass understood what abolition meant and what the founding fathers were pushing for during the making of the constitution. All of this was put together to make one of the most important pieces of work in history. We can see the affects of his works in today's society. The United States seems to be a more harmonic land then before the revolution. But it is up to the generations today to teach generations of tomorrow the virtues of the great leaders of the past so to keep the ideals we live by for years to come. ...read more.

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