Frederick Douglass’s What to the Slave is the Fourth of July is a work that speaks about American pride, patriotism, slavery, and the hypocrisy of America. Douglass begins rather slowly in my opinion, building up the American fervor for liberty and patriotism. He talks about America gaining independence from Britain, highlighting and praising the forefathers of America. After building up the audience and America, Douglass then goes on to slam them. He says repeatedly that America is hypocritical because it claims to give liberty to everyone, but refuses to give it to slaves. Douglass gives multiple examples in his work. For one, he compares Americans to the children of Jacob, claiming they are living under the exemplary shadow of their forefathers much like the children of Jacob lived under the shadow of Abraham’s. He also gives multiple examples in the paragraph on page 17, including, “You are all on fire at the mention of liberty for France or Ireland; but are as cold as an iceberg at the thought of liberty for the enslaved of America.”
Douglass’s arguments reminded me of Stowe and Cartwright (I believe). Douglass reminded me of Stowe because in the Story of Two Altars, Stowe gives the same example of unjust liberty and how it is not fairly distributed. Paragraph 3 on page 15 reminds me of Cartwright because Douglass challenges the American church, saying that if the church opposed slavery, it wouldn’t exist.
The second paragraph on page 9 sticks out to me. In it, Douglass explains why blacks are equal to whites. He gives examples of all the ways black people contribute to society, including, “planting and reaping…building ships…reading, writing…moving, acting, thinking…living in families as husbands, wives and children, and…worshipping the Christian’s God…” Yet, even among all these attributes, which sound like pretty normal things, blacks are still considered inferior to whites.
One final thing I found interesting were all of the Bible verses and references to God opposing slavery. It seems like a lot of stories we’ve read have incorporated the same arguments. This time, however, it was almost as if Douglass was flipping the tactic on slaveholders. We learned that slaveholders used verses from the Bible to falsely condone slavery, while Douglass uses the tactic in opposition of slavery.