Critique of Frederick Douglass speech

Attached is a link to the text for Frederick Douglass’ speech “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” given on July 4, 1852, delivered in front of an audience of more than 500 in Corinthian Hall in Rochester, NY, and sponsored by the Rochester Ladies Anti-Slavery Society.

In your essay I would like you to critique the speech. You have leeway to take your critique in a direction that you feel appropriate. DO NOT use headings that list a question and then an answer. Your paper must be written in narrative form. Below are suggested angles you may want to ponder and elaborate upon.

Why do you think Douglass decided to gave such a speech?
What is the overall sense you get from the speech? How did Douglass come across: Angry? Unaffected? Timid? Matter of fact?
Do you believe Douglass’ intended to reach a mass audience with his speech or simply the audience sitting in front of him?
How do you think African Americans, free and black, might have felt about the speech at the time?
Do you think the majority of white citizens responded to the speech in one specific way or do you think their opinions varied?
Why do you believe Douglass started off his speech apologizing?
Why do you think Douglas was the person chosen to give the speech?
How do you think Douglass’ speech would go over if given today, with the title being “What to the African American (versus ‘What to the Slave’) is the 4th of July?” Do you think the speech would have any relevance?
Use topic sentences to transition from one angle to the next. If you are addressing the suggested questions above, integrate them into an essay form.

Be mindful that you are critiquing the speech. Do Not submit work that is basically three pages full of Douglass’ speech repeated back. Of course, you can make use of his words, but they should only be used to set up your analysis. When critiquing the speech keep in mind the period in which Douglass delivered it and the mood and environment in the United States at the time.

YOU are expected to read and review. I encourage you to do additional research on the speech for the background but DO NOT overly use previously published reviews, critiques found on the web, etc., in place of your own analysis. Your charge is to be original. Provide YOUR voice to this essay, not someone else’s. If you do otherwise, it will prove obvious and detrimental to your grade for this assignment.

Stay away from using the terms “we,” “us,” “our.”

If you use direct quotes from the speech, be sure to place quotation marks around them. You may use (FD) as your citation marker within your copy. You did not need a citation source page at the completion of your essay.


750-1000 words minimum MLA Style

Times Roman or Arial font * 12 point * Double Space * 1 inch margins

Open chat