Because of Jefferson Truc-Phuong Nguyen

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Because of Jefferson

Truc-Phuong Nguyen

English 101

Ms. Chocos

October 4, 201

In Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, Jefferson declares independence for the American colonist from Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence was for the independence of colonist from Great Britain; and only for the independence of colonist from Great Britain, leaving the independence of the colored and women (from those same freed colonist Thomas Jefferson declares independence to in the Declaration of Independence) for others to deal with. The Declaration of Independence affected the opinions of many abolitionists and advocates for years to come including: Sojourner Truth, William Lloyd Garrison, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and George Fitzhugh. Similar to Sojourner Truth’s Ain’t I a Woman speech where she speaks to abolish oppression of both women and blacks, William Lloyd Garrison’s Declaration of Sentiments of the American Anti-Slavery Convention was also written in hopes of gaining rights both for women and the colored. Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Declaration of Sentiments, given at the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York (regarding suffrage) was also affected by the Declaration of Independence. Unlike the three abolitionist: Truth, Stanton, and Garrison, George Fitzhugh, an advocate for slavery used the Declaration of Independence to do the opposite, he used the Declaration of Independence to support the oppression of the minority.

In 1851 Sojourner Truth gave the famous Ain’t I a woman speech after only twenty five years of freedom from slavery. Not only did Jefferson not give the rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (Declaration of Independence) to her gender, but also her race. Truth was both a woman and black, therefore given little to nothing in regards to rights. Within her short speech of about three minutes she was able to successfully state why both women and blacks should have rights, and argue against most reasons white men gave as to why women and blacks should continuously be oppressed. Men think that women need to be “helped into carriages, well ain’t I a woman?” that one line, “Ain’t I a woman” became very famous, because frankly she is, she is a woman, so why isn’t she helped into carriages? Instead she is treated more like a man than how a white man would treat another. She says that she can work and eat and even bare the lash while in slavery, if men want all of the power and rights then they should be treating the women like the queens they are. Intellect has nothing to do with ones rights; it especially had nothing to do with rights when the white men wanted their rights from Great Britain. One man said that women do not have rights because Christ was not a woman, “Where did Christ come from?” was Sojourner Truth’s response. The first woman on this earth (Eve) was able to turn this world upside down and now that woman want to turn it back around “men better let them”. Her short speech of three minutes became one of the most powerful arguments for both colored and female rights.

The model of Truth’s speech slightly resembled the Declaration of Independence. While the other two abolitionists, Garrison and Cady listed out what the white man’s wrong doings were just as Thomas Jefferson listed the wrong doings of Great Britain to the American colonists, Truth states what she had to go through as a female slave. Like Sojourner Truth, in William Lloyd Garrison’s Declaration of Sentiments of the American Anti-Slavery Convention Garrison also fights for the abolishment of inequality towards blacks and women.

In 1831 Garrison published The Liberator in Boston, an antislavery newspaper “that became the most influential abolitionists journal in the country” (William Lloyd Garrison). Garrison’s Declaration of Sentiments of the American Anti-Slavery Convention Garrison lists changes needed to be made, just like Jefferson did for the colonist towards King George in the Declaration of Independence.

Garrison believed “that slavery was the greatest national evil, the sin most in need of correction…and devoted to opposing it” (271, William Lloyd Garrison). The gradual emancipation and colonization schemes (made by the white men) were the reasons as to why “Garrison called for immediate abolition, opposing gradual emancipation and colonization skills” (271, William Lloyd Garrison). By “basing his stand on the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence” (271, William Lloyd Garrison) Garrison stated actuality did the opposite, “Their principles led them to war against their oppressors and to spill human blood like water….Their measures were physical and resistance…Their grievances, great as they were, were trifling in comparison with the wrongs” Garrison then proceeds to state what would happen if his Declaration were to succeed “ours forbid the doing of evil that good may come…ours shall be such only as the opposition or moral purity…our fathers were never slaves…never subjected to the lash of brutal taskmasters” (Garrison’s Declaration of Sentiments of the American Anti-Slavery Convention).

Garrison takes what Jefferson does in the Declaration of independence to the next level by stating what they shall do because “they suffer the pangs of hunger…for the crime of having a dark complexion…these are the prominent circumstances in the condition of more than two millions of our people…we shall organize anti-slavery societies…we shall aim at the purification of the churches” (Garrison’s Declaration of Sentiments of the American Anti-Slavery Convention). The third of the three abolitionists, Elizabeth Cady Stanton on the other hand focused mainly on womens rights.

Three years before Sojourner Truth’s speech in 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote the Declaration of Sentiments which initiated the first women’s rights suffrage movement. In the Declaration of Sentiments she changes one of the most memorable lines from the Declaration of Independence from “we hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal” to “all men and women are created equal. Just as the men who were part of the Declaration of Independence wanted to rid of Great Britain’s power, the women thought of the men, specifically the white men as the tyrant rulers. They have long abused their powers; there is no longer power to. First there was no Britain, now there is to be not just white but also not just men in general because there are “repeated injuries …of men towards women…absolute tyranny over her.” Women not only couldn’t vote but were degraded, even more than foreigners, kept from participating in the government, considered “civilly dead” if married, taken property from “even with wages she earned”, not given custody power, ect. A woman’s rights were taken whether they were single or married, there was no wining. Opposing all that Truth, Garrison, and Cady fought for came George Fitzhugh.

George Fitzhugh, a white theorist advocates for slavery in The universal Law of Slavery. Fitzhugh starts off his theory with the line “he the negro is but a grown up child, and must be governed as a child, not as a lunatic or criminal” (The universal Law of Slavery). Fitzhugh is but an evil genius. By comparing a child to a lunatic or criminal the child is obviously the better choice. Those that read the line think positively, he is not being a bad man because he isn’t calling blacks lunatics or criminals, he is instead calling them children forgetting that what he is referring to are human beings, sometimes adult human beings. He belittles blacks by making people think that they must be cared for and are helpless. Instead of thinking of slavery as a negative for the enslaved he actually states that slavery is something good for them, “the negro slaves of the South are the happiest, and, in some sense, the freest people in the world” (Fitzhugh). Instead of forcing everyone to believe slavery is good he makes those uncertain for slavery think that they are helping their slaves, basically he makes those feeling guilty in regards to slavery feel un-guilty. Unlike the three abolitionists of slavery who use Declaration of Independence to abolish slavery, Fitzhugh uses it to gain believers. His theory is that slavery is good, this so called document that everyone must follow, the Declaration of Independence does not ever state that there should be rights for blacks. If people live by that document then there may be truth behind that Fitzhugh says.

The Declaration of Independence was written in 1776, it may have worked for the white colonists but it wasn’t enough for a simple document to help gain rights for women and the colored. By modeling the writing format and using methods that Thomas Jefferson used in the Declaration of Independence Truth, Garrison, and Stanton attempted to gain the same rights colonist received due to the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain for those oppressed. Whereas to those advocates of slavery such as Fitzhugh used the Declaration of Independence to their advantage.

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