DuBois' The Souls of Black Folk I am reminded of his notion of double consciousness. "One ever feels his twoness "an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body."" This "peculiar sensation- that DuBois describes at the turn of the twentieth century is also clearly expressed within Frederick Douglass' 1852 speech, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?- Within this speech Douglass confronts the highly patriotic majority with the shackled reality of enslaved Black folk. As Douglass passionately interrogates his audience, his internal dialogue is revealed. I posit that it is precisely Douglass' psychic duality that puts his inherent enslaved African connection and his undoubted American existence in contention; a battle that is fought throughout his speech.
Douglass begins his speech with visions of a better of America. Not speaking against slavery at the onset of the speech, Douglass gracefully congratulates America on its independence. He extravagantly narrates the story of the American Revolution, telling the stories of brave heroes. Douglass ironically manipulates the distaste for the British by Americans in telling the story of the Revolution and the country's need for liberty. He speaks of the horrors of British control and the dangers of oppression. "Oppression makes a wise man mad."" Douglass speaks of the importance of the revolution and the brave American forefathers who stood in the face of danger. Always in actuality speaking to the abomination of slavery, Douglass says, " they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage."" .
Douglass strengthens his rhetoric in the second half of his speech as it increases in tempo. Turning to the present from the story of the War, Douglass begins questioning the audience about the grave disparities between the liberty that Americans claim for all and the laws that they use to subjugate enslaved Africans.