Teaching “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”

Thursday, November 14, 2013
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm (EST) Enter Classroom Enter Forum


James Engell
Gurney Professor of English and Professor of Comparative Literature
Harvard University
National Humanities Center Fellow

About the Seminar

“This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” In Rochester, New York, on July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass excoriated the nation for its hypocrisy, brutality, and arrogance in an Independence Day oration that still stings. What arguments did he make? What rhetorical skills did he display? How did he indict American history, American religion, and American law? Join us for a close reading of a July Fourth speech that contains its own fireworks. A Common Core exemplar text.

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Assigned Readings

  1. "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" Speech by Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852.
  2. Read the entire America in Class® Lesson including the interactive components. "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?"

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