Prof. Garcia | ENG 1121 - O427 | Spring 2021

Responding to Douglass

After listening to Frederick Douglass’ speech, I believe he is arguing that the Declaration of Independence does not have as much meaning to people who are facing oppression in America. In his speech, he compares the oppression of black people in America to the way that people in the American Colonies were being oppressed by the English government. He makes the argument that previously if someone were to say something negative towards the English government, they would be called dangerous men or rebels. This is similar to how people were treated if they spoke out about the oppression of black people. He feels that people need to fight back against the oppression or else there will never be change. As long as there are brave men, there is a way to fight back against the oppression and change things for the better.

Quote: “They were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. They showed forbearance; but that they knew its limits. They believed in order; but not in the order of tyranny. With them, nothing was “settled” that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were “final;” not slavery and oppression.” (5)

Paraphrase: The men that fought for the independence of America were peaceful, but they would rather revolt than submit to oppression. When it came to oppression, they were more vocal and not afraid to voice their opinions against it. They could restrain themselves, but only for so long. They valued law and order, except when it was used for tyranny. They would not stop fighting for what is right until they achieved their goal. They believed in justice, liberty, and humanity, they were not going to settle for slavery and oppression.

Response: This quote is important because it shows that people want to peacefully be free from tyranny and oppression, but they are willing to revolt to gain their freedom. I believe this means that people should not just accept oppression, people should always fight for what is right even if it means that they need to start a revolution. The quote also shows that when people revolt, it does not mean that they want to achieve the goal through violence, they do believe in law and order, but they will not accept tyranny.

1 Comment

  1. Ruth Garcia

    The key thing that you identify in your summary and quote, which is so important to his argument, is that the oppression of slaves is like the faced by the colonies from the British. This is super important to getting his audience to understand. Also, it is a way of justifying why slaves have the right to fight for their freedom. Great work!!

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