In the 1861 essay by Wendell Phillips, the author uses poignt, relevant alusions coupled with powerful selection of detail to reassure Northern Americans reluctant to allowing African Americans to join the military that the African American community is more than competent to defend their own freedom and to demonstrate to the African Americans willing to join that they are to be seen as no less than a regulation soldier.
By using allusions to European and American figures, Phillips allows the audience to draw the connection between Toussaint and these figures, aiding in Toussaint’s Ethos. Line 1, “If I stood here tonight to tell the story of Napoleon, I should take it from the lips of Frenchmen, who find no language rich enough to pain the great captain of the nineteenth century.” By then, discrediting these figures, Phillips helps to build Toussaint’s Pathos. From line 29, “I would call him Washington, but the great Virginian held slaves.” Here, Toussaint discredits Washington, who is seen as America’s finest general stating that he owned slaves, an unpopular decision in Northern American at the dawn of the civil war. By later saying that Toussant, himself, would rather die than allow the slave trade in Haiti, Phillips is showing his audience that an African American soldier may have an even higher code of ethics than a white American soldier.
In addition to allusions, Phillips uses powerful selection of detail to illustrate his point to the audiences. Line 38: “Use Washington as the bright consummate flower of our earlier civilization” or line 42 “Then, dripping her pen in the sunlight, will write in the clear blue, above them all, the name of the soldier, the statesman, the martyr, Toussaint Lovverture” By using this vivid detail, the author forces the audience to picture the African American as a soldier. By humanizing a group that at the time was seen as “less than” the audience may begin to see that the African American would be a valuable asset in...
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