by Frederick Douglass
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.
The Declaration of Independence
- Thomas Jefferson
In “The Declaration of Independence,” representatives from the 13 American colonies declare their independence from Great Britain.Pair “The Declaration of Independence” with “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” and ask students to discuss the historical parameters for freedom. What does the Declaration of Independence promise in terms of freedom? For whom? Historically, were these promises kept and, if not, why?
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 the “Fugitive Slave Act of 1793” with “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” and ask students to discuss the history of slavery in the United States.
America the Beautiful
- Katharine Lee Bates
Considered to be one of the most popular songs in modern America, "America the Beautiful" is a ballad written by Katharine Lee Bates. This figurative languaged-filled song captures America's core democratic principles.Pair “America the Beautiful” with “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” and challenge students to compare the point of view, tone, and purpose of each text.
A Defiant Muhammad Ali Was Cherished By Black Men
- Karen Grigsby Bates
Muhammad Ali’s legacy as a symbol of courage and a challenge to the status quo is remembered in light of his passing.Pair “A Defiant Muhammad Ali Was Cherished by Black Men” with “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” and ask students to think about how the relationship between the two pieces. How does Douglass’s identification of the tension between the traditionally American values of freedom and liberty and the history of the country’s treatment of its black citizens mirror Ali’s stance on the Vietnam War? Do you see parallels between the activism of the two men? Did they differ in their means of inspiring others?
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 “Excerpts from Spirit of Laws” with “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July” and ask students to compare the passionate condemnation of slavery, analyzing how the two different genres achieve a similar critical effect.
To Those Who Keep Slaves, and Approve the Practice
- Richard Allen
In this essay, prominent African-American scholar and minister Richard Allen meditates on the inhumanity of slavery.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.
George W. Harkins to the American People
- George W. Harkins
In an open letter to the American people, Choctaw chief George W. Harkins expresses his opinion about the Indian removals.Pair “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” with “George W. Harkins to the American People” and ask students to compare the plight of African Americans and Native Americans in the 1800s. How do the authors portray or view the United States? How does the tone in both speeches compare? What role does prejudice play in each text?
Petition from the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery
- Benjamin Franklin
In this historical document from 1790, Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, argues that slavery must be abolished in the United States.Pair “Petition from the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery” with “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” and ask students to discuss the common themes in each text. How does each author support these themes? How are American values addressed in each text? Compare the tone of each text. Is the tone in one text more effective than the other? Why? Is the argument’s reasoning in either text stronger? Why or why not? Use evidence from each text to support your answers.