Frederick Douglass Essay Sample
- Word count: 988
- Category: democracy
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Frederick Douglass Essay Sample
Democracy and human freedom have too many aspects to address before it can completely be achieved. In his 4th of July speech, Frederick Douglass chose to focus on the lack of action on the part of the dominant religion and the current political structure to effect changes that would bring about justice and freedom to black people.
He starts his long speech by honoring American forefathers for being able to gain the nation’s freedom. However, his mood changes as he moves to focus on how he seems insulted to have been asked to speak before such an occasion that mocks justice for the rest of his people who are being enslaved. Despite being a guest who is supposed to celebrate the big event, he has decided to use forceful words to help his audience understand that although the U.S. glorifies in the labors of their forefathers who used the principles of democracy to gain their freedom, they have not been able to espouse its ideals because of their marginalization of black people.
He points out that although freedom was being espoused on the 4th of July, the liberty of Negroes was being trampled on. In fact, he condemns whites for not even recognizing that blacks are humans. The way slaves are purchased and sold without their consent, the way a slave is painfully abused without remorse and the way they are treated by society all lead up to the conclusion that they are mere animals and not people. They way that slaves are being treated are a mockery to human dignity even if whites pride themselves of promoting human freedom.
He also described the horrifying way that slaves are treated because of the legalization of the slave trade. He mocks the freedom being espoused by the 4th of July when many blacks weep because they are being hunted like deer in games.
He condemns the laws being enacted that allow Negroes to be hunted because this evidences how inhuman people are being treated despite the pride the American government and clergy take in saying that theirs is a nation that promotes human liberty. He further reveals how black men are simply hunted and then sentenced to crimes uncommitted because the judges get paid for their decisions. Even the religious minister witnessing the accounts do not try to stop proceedings to direct it towards justice.
He strikes against the church for allowing the government to legalize the Fugitive Slave law. He admonishes the clergy for making religion a simple worshiping activity when it should be espousing principles of active benevolence, justice, love and good will towards man. He considers the Church’s indifference to the matter as hypocritical and going against the basic principles it should be standing for.
He further attacks the Church for using its teachings to justify the unfair law instead of acting against it. He points out that the clergy preach that the relation of master and slave is ordained of God and that escaped bondmen must be sent back to their masters as a duty to Christ. He forcefully calls this blasphemy because of the way the teachings are twisted to favor the cruelty being done. He goes on to say that whenever these things happen, the clergy strip the love of God of its beauty and replace it with something horrible that is not worthy of being called religion.
He bravely injects that the Church is not merely evil in upholding slavery but is fatally guilty of being indifferent to its abolishment. He mocks those who say that he should spare the Church from his rebukes. He says that the Church cannot be spared because the ministry holds activities that espouse slavery instead of admonishing it. He further drives a strong point that because of these misdeeds, the clergy are not worthy of being Christ’s representatives on earth because they do not uphold faith and zeal in redeeming slaves from their plight. He therefore concludes that the clergy in England are better than Americans because the prior acted against the enslavement of West Indians.
He further remarks that America is very hypocritical because it even compares itself as better than other countries because of the ideals of freedom and humanity it supposedly upholds. However, the Fugitive Slave law clearly contradicts all democratic concepts because it is barbarous to hunt, arrest and even kill simply for trade and game.
America’s education may be highly esteemed but it does not mean much because it allows such a dreadful system to persist in society. Thus, it shows that America is not a pure nation because its character is deeply marred by its promotion of injustices against fellow human beings. He implies that America has no right to meddle with the wrong principles being implemented in other countries when it is upholding worse laws within its system.
He closes his speech by placing his faith in God and in the matter of how the American people will reflect on their constitution. He believes that if Americans would truly understand their constitution, they would realize the need for the abolition of slavery and learn to recognize that the Negro race should share equal rights as humans living in the same world.
Douglass’ speech is very powerful because it vividly describes how slavery can mar the character of a nation and its Church. It was a brave act to do this in front of dignitaries who are guilty of almost everything he had flung insultingly. However, the liberty he possessed to be able to share his thoughts vocally was still part of the democratic process and it is in this light that we should be thankful for people like him who know how to use the essential principles of democracy to favor the oppressed and marginalized.