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FREDERICK DOUGLASSS POWERS OF APPEAL After his escape from slavery Frederick Douglass chose to promote the abolition of slavery by speaking about the actions and effects that result from that institution In an excerpt from a July 5 1852 speech at Rochester New York Douglass asks the question What to the slave is the Fourth of July This question is a bold one and it demands attention The effectiveness of his oration is derived from the personal appeals in which he engages the listener At once in this speech Douglass appeals to his listeners religious tendencies He asks his audience am I therefore called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar 441 Religious appeal is so important because the majority of his audience is Christian and he implies that Christianity in its ostensible purity allows the mishandling of human life to the degree of slavery By relating Christianity directly to slavery his listeners must question the validity of their Christian doctrines in relation to the institution of slavery In doing so they must eliminate their acceptance of one of these traditions the odds are that Christianity holds a much more loyal following than slavery in which case slavery will be given up as a practice Douglass also quotes from Psalms 1371-6 and the ludicrous concept that slaveholders expect their slaves to be joyous in their state of bondage is the essential meaning of the passage he chooses as it relates to the comparable situation of the Babylonians captives 442 His persuasive appeal in this case is the notion that any pious Christian would have sympathy for the lamenting captives and contempt for the captors in the Psalms passage If this assumption is correct then the same pious Christians surely should realize the situation of the slaves on this day and every other Additionally in asking this question he asserts immediately that the meaning of the Fourth of July is entirely
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