Alfred M. Green Rhetorical Analysis

April 18, 2017 History

Ben Hash
Per. 2

On April of 1861, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Alfred Green delivered a speech to his fellow African Americans that would be remembered throughout history. In his speech, Alfred M. Green helped to unite the Union army by using various rhetorical strategies to express his arguments about why African-Americans should be allowed to enlist in the Union army. In his speech, Green makes a point that dwelling on the discrepancies of former white leaders of the past is not going to benefit the African Americans in the future, and that they must act now to improve their future status in society. Also, Green spoke with great confidence about the unfairness of the treatment of African American not only in the South but also in the North. Throughout the end of his speech, Green cleverly adds a point of view from a higher power many of the men can relate to; a prejudice-free God??™s point of view. Green??™s use of a variety of methods to persuade his fellow African-Americans to prepare for war successfully fulfills its duty, and at the same time speaks out against the treatment of the African-Americans in the North.
Green begins his speech by immediately mentioning the cornerstone of the American ideology; that American citizens believe in “freedom, and in civil and religious toleration.” By reminding the African-Americans what America is founded on, he recognizes in them the desire to go to war against anyone opposing the idea. Green then, with the same principles, reminds the whites of their unfairness in denying the African-Americans their rights. The mention of the “Immortal Washington” and “Jackson” also appeals to the patriotism in the African-Americans, in a way that magnifies the oppression of the African-American people by the white man, particularly former leaders, and asks to set aside the past and move on to improve the social standards of all blacks alike.
Through the middle of his speech, Green begins to remind the African Americans of their “oppressed brethren” in the South. He reminds them of people under a “tyrant system” and asks for their assistance in overthrowing it. He also mentions the desire of the Southern leaders to “drive back civil and religious freedom; Let us have more slave territory.” By mentioning the goals of the other side, he motivates the African-Americans to go to war by showing them the possible outcome for the future of the nation if the south wins because they did not fight. Green notes that their “very presence” in the battlefield will urge the slaves in the South to revolt, creating a brotherhood of all black men alike.
The appeal Green makes to the religious beliefs of the African-Americans is apparent throughout his speech. Because most of the African-Americans at the time were Christian, by referring to their God as “God of truth, justice, and equality to all men” Green makes his ???fellow brethrens??? feel obligated to help the cause of the Civil War. Some other of Green??™s religious appeals such as, ???Let us, then, trusting in God, who will defend the right, remembering that these are other days than those of yore; that the world today is on one side of freedom and universal political equality??? creating a feeling that the audience has the same beliefs as God, and that they must all strive together to reach a similar goal. Such an ingenious rhetorical strategy is amplified when it is presented in such a religious era, once again moving the African Americans one step closer to enlisting into the union army.
Although Green does make certain condescending arguments towards the white audience of the speech, by the end of the speech, he has “united” both African-Americans and whites by focusing them against a common enemy: the south. He does want change, but he knows that defeating the Southern slavery system is more important in the long run. Green is careful to “hope for the future” but still “improve the present” and he hopes not only the African-Americans, but also the whites will do the same.

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