Presentation — A Rhetorical Comparison of Douglass and Weld

As part of my academic criteria, I had the pleasure to present this rhetorical collaboration (that is embedded above) with Joe Connaughton, Marisa Kipping, Eric Merriweather, and Kennedy Smith about the similarities and differences of Fredrick Douglass and Theodore Dwight Weld. In order to throughly understand the context f our presentation, I want to provide a brief introduction of each rhetorician as it leads into the ethics and values of their rhetorical choices for each of their speeches.

Fredrick Douglass

Frederick Douglass began his life as a slave. He escaped slavery in Maryland around 1818, and became an abolitionist leader, social reformer, and anti-slavery writer through the rest of the mid-nineteenth century upon his death in 1895. Although he is most famous for his speech, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” which is used as our analysis piece in our presentation, he was also well-known for his national leadership position where he used his voice and reputation to advocate on the other social and racial issues that began to grow through the roots of the abolitionist movement during that time period.

Copy of “American Slavery as it is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses” written by Theodore Weld.

Theodore Dwight Weld was born and died in the same years as Douglass but did not share the same life experiences. Weld grew up as a ministerial student, but eventually became one of the voices for the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1834. He recruited and training a large group of people to help with the cause. Although Weld was never a slave, he did a considerable amount to bring into the light about the horrible treatments and horrible standard about slavery as a whole. In his rhetoric, he became credible through the voices of all slaves he gathered to highlight their issues and to point to the [Americans] that we need to all come together to take action. We, as a group, provided a rhetorical analysis on his piece, “American Slavery as it is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses” and proved how his rhetoric tactics are deemed plausible.

Even though both rhetoricians speak on the same issues, how they approach, challenge, identify, and execute their rhetoric is different. Yet, even from coming from different background and viewpoints, they were able to [try] accomplish one thing: justice.


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