by Richard Allen
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
Fugitive Slave Act of 1793
- The United States Congress
The Fugitive Slave Act was enacted by the United States Congress in 1793, and then later renewed in 1850. This act guaranteed slave owners the right to recover run-away slaves. When the Thirteenth Amendment was passed, abolishing slavery, the Fugitive Slave Act lost its power.Pair “To Those Who Keep Slaves, and Approve the Practice” with “Fugitive Slave Act of 1793” and have students re-consider the speech through the lens of the Fugitive Slave Act. How does reading the Act advance their understanding of the codification of slavery as an American institution? How do students think this contributed to the difficulty faced by abolitionists in convincing people to fight against the existence of slavery? How does Allen deal with and respond to the issues presented in the Fugitive Slave Act?
What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?
- Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was an African American social reformer, orator, writer, former slave, and leading abolitionist. In this speech delivered to a crowd of abolitionists in New York, Douglass reminds his audience of the inherent hypocrisy of an "Independence Day" for people enslaved.Pair “To Those Who Keep Slaves, and Approve the Practice” with “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” and ask students to think about how the latter text builds upon the ideas presented in the former. How does Douglass’ speech add another angle to the argument against the continuation of the institution of slavery? How would you characterize the arguments presented in each text? Compare and contrast the ways in which each text addresses what it means to be a good American citizen.
Speech on Slavery
- Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was well known for his opposition to slavery, believing that it went against the core principles of the nation’s Founding Fathers. In this text, Lincoln contrasts slavery with its better counterpart, free labor, and aligns it with the necessity of equality in society.Pair “To Those Who Keep Slaves, and Approve the Practice” with “Speech on Slavery” and ask students to discuss how the argument against slavery develops between Allen’s speech written in 1794, and Lincoln’s speech in 1854. What has changed for the plight of slaves? What has changed in America? What are the central arguments for abolition in the two separate texts? Which one appeals more to students and why?
Excerpt from Spirit of Laws
- Charles-Louis de Secondat Montesquieu
In these excerpts from Montesquieu’s political theory, the philosopher reflects on the origins of slavery and inequality using both logical reasoning and satire.Pair “To Those Who Keep Slaves, and Approve the Practice” with “Excerpt from Spirit of Laws” and ask students to compare the arguments of the two anti-slavery texts, as well as contrast the rhetorical tools and tones of the two pieces. Which tone do students find more effective: Allen’s rational emotional appeal or Montesquieu’s satiric stance?