What does douglas mean by stripes of death

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Journal Assignment 1-

Fredrick Douglas' "The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro"


In the early republic the annual Fourth of July oration was an important moment of commemoration, celebration, and reaffirmation in which Americans paid tribute to the heroes of the American Revolution and the ideals of American freedom and liberty. Citizens of all walks of life would gather together in their local communities to listen to orations delivered by prominent statesmen such as John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, and Horace Mann. A typical Fourth of July Oration would wax poetic about the virtues of America, often praising the Founders in grand terms and asking current Americans to live up to their illustrious role models.

Former slave Frederick Douglass' July 5, 1852 oration "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" stands in stark contrast to the typical Fourth of July Oration. Not only did Douglass look different than the typical Fourth of July orator, but his message was very different. "The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not me," Douglass told his audience. "The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes of death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn." Throughout the speech Douglass compared and contrasted what the Fourth of July means to white Americans (freedom) and what it means to African-Americans (slavery) and concluded, "What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham."

Douglass was already a famous abolitionist and speaker, but his fiery and dramatic calling out of American hypocrisy in his Fourth of July oration solidified his place as one of the greatest American orators of all time.


Answer the following questions:

1. Why did Douglas suggest by inviting him to speak on the Fourth of July the audience may have been mocking him?

2. Cite two examples of how the meaning of the Fourth of July differed for whites and African-American slaves?

3. What does Douglas mean by "stripes of death"?

4. How could Douglas have made such a speech yet still felt that the Constitution was a "glorious document" of liberty?

Journal Assignment 2-

The Seventh of March Speech


In the 1830s Daniel Webster, a senator from Massachusetts, established himself as the champion of American nationalism. Responding to Calhoun, he speaks for the "preservation of the Union," for "the restoration of quiet and harmonious harmony." This latter point is one of the major themes of his speech. Citing what he sees as the unwarranted split of the Methodist Episcopal Church into Northern and Southern branches over the question of slavery, he denounces "impatient" men who are unyielding and fanatic in their efforts to enforce their view of what is right. Such people lead the abolition movement, which, in his view, has "produced nothing good or valuable" and, indeed, has actually retarded the progress of race relations in the South. He criticizes the North for its failure to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law. Finally, he storms against "peaceable secession," marshalling practical reasons why it would not work.


Provide short answers to the following questions:

1. What, in Webster's view, holds the nation together?

2. How seriously does he take the Southern threat to secede?

3. How does Webster's vision of the Union differ from those of Clay, Calhoun, and Seward? (optional question)

4. What is his argument for preservation of the Union?

5. What, in his view, are the benefits of the Union?

Reference no: EM13734794

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