The Contributions of Frederick Douglas, William Apess, Sarah Margaret Fuller, and Sojourner Truth
As has been noted before, when we look at the authors of The Declaration of Independence, we are quite aware that the 'document' was written in the interest of the people who were there. The wealthy, white, landowners make up the Constitution to fit their needs and exclude everyone else. The people most notably left without rights are African American's, Native American's and Women. These minority groups formed a bond with each other because they were outside the dominant group. These groups of people helped gain their strength and voice through speeches and conventions with each one using the very words of the Constitution as their platform. During this time powerful voices spoke out like: Frederick Douglas, William Apess, Margaret Fuller, and Sojourner Truth, who didn't have the advantage of a formal education, but still found a way to become educated or taught themselves.
A brilliant speaker, "Abolionist, women's rights advocate,journalist and newspaper editor, social reformers and race leader, Frederick Douglas was unquestionably one of the most prominent black leaders of the nineteenth century and one of the most eloquent orators in American public life"(1751). Frederick Douglas was basically self-taught and his voice became so polished that he was in fear of losing the audience of his own race to the cause of freeing slaves because he sounded "too white". Douglas was asked to speak at a Fourth of July celebration and in his speech; What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July? ; He expresses that it is: "Your National Independence, and of your political freedom"(1819). He reaches out to his audience by showing the separation between him and his race to the dominant culture. He was obviously invited to speak and he was able to use that platform to stress his point. He goes on to explain his real life experiences. Douglas says:" Fellow citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men too-great enough to give fame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots, and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contend for, I will unite with you to honor their memory"(1822). What Douglas does here is recognize and respect these men to the crowd and make himself part of the group by honoring them together and yet he still gets his point across. "Douglas was known as an articulate antislavery speaker his speeches for the Massachusetts Antislavery Society cemented Douglas' role as an abolitionists. Douglas also worked for the Underground Railroad"(owl-eyes 1).