David Walker’s Appeal

David Walker’s Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World, published in Boston in 1830, was one of the earliest publications by a black abolitionist, and also one of the most radical and angry. His fiery prose invokes the language of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia to make his case for the immediate abolition of slavery. Walker managed to have many copies of the pamphlet smuggled into the South, where it caused enough anxiety among slave owners to cause them to put a bounty on his head, and prompted Georgians temporarily to suspend the entry of black sailors into their ports.

But who was David Walker? He was a free black man born in Wilmington, North Carolina, to a free mother and enslaved father, in 1795 or 1796. In his early adulthood, he moved to Charleston, South Carolina, then made his way northward, first living briefly in Philadelphia, and then settling in Boston in 1825. It was there that he composed his renowned pamphlet. You can read more about Walker here (a pretty decent Wikipedia entry), as well as an interesting entry from an online encyclopedia of North Carolina history, and another good piece from the Virginia State Archives. He died not long after the publication of the pamphlet, in June 1830, the official record stating that he died of tuberculosis, although their have been many claims that he was poisoned.

In this web comment, chose one or two paragraphs from the Appeal from the excerpts here. Read them over carefully, and then in your web comment, note which paragraph you are looking at and then summarize briefly what point Walker is making in that paragraph. In addition, analyze how Walker is making his point: What strategies is he using? Is his argument persuasive? What sort of emotional response does the paragraph elicit in the reader? Your comment should be about two paragraphs in length.

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Published in: on November 25, 2011 at 11:00 pm  Comments (19)  

19 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. In the excerpt where David Walker says,that slaves were made to work in the american colonies,what it means that : when america got independence from great britain the country formed into twenty-four colonies which prohibit slavery, to be made as slaves.

    What David Walker means is that the slaves got degraded from slavery,and the whites are making the slaves buy making them human and making them work in the plantations.And what he means is that by being in the white men’s control the slavers are shown that they are inferior and because of their dark skinned they are made looked as inferior.He is saying that because he is against slavery and he is telling of the common truth that is being practiced in the states.His argument is persuasive and he is persuading the readers to come up against slavery.

  2. The paragragh–>>”Are we MEN! ! — I ask you, 0 my brethren I are we MEN? Did our Creator make us to be slaves to dust and ashes like ourselves? Are they not dying worms as well as we? Have they not to make their appearance before the tribunal of Heaven, to answer for the deeds done in the body, as well as we? Have we any other Master but Jesus Christ alone? Is he not their Master as well as ours? — What right then, have we to obey and call any other Master, but Himself? How we could be so submissive to a gang of men, whom we cannot tell whether they are as good as ourselves or not, I never could conceive. However, this is shut up with the Lord, and we cannot precisely tell — but I declare, we judge men by their works.”<<–to me means that David Walker is stating how its doesn't matter what color your skin is because to god everybody is the same. He states how we all came from the same god just as worms would as well. Once everybody dies, wouldn't they all stand before god to be judged upon the deeds they have done when they were alive. Shouldn't there only be one master named Jesus Christ and not white masters that live on earth.

    I believed the strategy David Walker used is the outside of the box view, in a sense that instead of viewing it as a white and black man world these people should view it as the eyes of the lord because in the end he is the one watching us all and shall be the one judging in the end. I believe his argument is very persuasive because he isn't viewing it as the view of the black man against the whites but as a man speaking for all unheard voices. To me the emotional response he is giving to the reader is the will to be strong, to believe in oneself, and have faith that there shall be good to come from all the hard work received.

  3. In the third to last paragraph of the excerpt, Walker tries to explain that whites and African Americans can never be friends if they keep them in slavery. He also says that although they may think it is impossible to become friends that isn’t true because anything is possible. Walker is correct because in today’s world, all races have become friends. In the last paragraph he also tries to show how America has contradicted itself in the declaration of independence “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Although America was supposed to be built upon this concept, they have enslaved African Americans.
    Walker’s excerpt is persuasive in the sense that he is using facts to back up his opinion. It was well thought out which makes it more persuasive for the reader. I also liked how he said that there was a possibility that whites and slaves can become friends because it shows how although whites have deprived African Americans and treated them badly, it can be forgiven.

  4. In the second paragraph David Walker sets the idea that black people are lesser equal to whites. That may be one of the reasons why the whites make them served them, received undesire punishment, making it impossible to escape from this. The only thing the whites care about it’s to make themselves rich, make sure their families are well cared and have anything they want. Walker also argues that the blacks also have feelings, they are not animals, or weird creature, they are only simply humans like themselves. He cannot believe that a person like Jefferson, very smart and intelligent does not recognize that both the whites and blacks have strong potentials the simple difference is their skin color.

    I think the strategies he uses is a lot of camparison. He also makes a lot of true statements.

    Jenniffer Bonilla

  5. In the 6th paragraph David Walker argues that whether you are a colored man,white man or even a worm for that matter, they all have two things in common. They all have the same God and they all die the same. So what makes a worm better than a colored man, or a white man better than a colored man? Why should they call the white man their Masters when they only have one master which is God. why are they obeying everything the white “master” says if hes made of flesh just as the colored? He says “i declaire we judge men by their works”. Meaning they are all human beings, they are all just the same so they should be judged the same.

    This paragraph was very persuasive. He uses capitals and exclamation points (which caught my attention) and he starts to pick at minds. He questions Jackson, the white men and the beliefs of the colored. Not only does he speak upon feelings but he also speaks upon facts which people want to hear. I could imagine the white men reading this and their reaction. i mustve sent chills up their spine knowing that a black man can publish such a book and the fear of their slaves retaliating against them. Not only did he use facts, and opinion in the excerpt, he used religion which is a bold move to make and a very powerful one. The emotional response from this paragraph (let alone the whole excirpt) was ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! although he is a free black man, he’s standing up for those who arent, and for the future ones who will be born into this slave frenzie.

  6. in the fourth paragraph to the last of David Walker’s Appeal by Crystal Hunter about in the 1830s legislative session, the laws pass were all related to slavery. these laws restricted the slaves’ freedom. if a slave disobeyed his master, that slave will be whipped and tortured. however, if the slave offends his master in second time, the slave might be killed. slaves were also forbidden to have any access to public education such as reading and writing.
    this reminds me of the slave codes that passed by congress. it denied the slaves’ right to strike back to whites in self-defence. if slaves do fight back, they will get killed. also, the whites will not be punished or sending to jail. so, Walker used all these and many other persuasive facts and evidences to show to his audience that slaves were treated like nothing but dirt and valuelessness in order to arouse the sentiment of abolitionism.

  7. The second to last paragraph Walker begins with saying, “I count my life not dear unto me, but I am ready to be offered at any moment, for what is the use of living, when in fact I am dead”. From this line the reader could sense the utter misery, the lack of reason to live if it doesn’t offer freedom. Walker also reminds Americans particularly the white slave holders that as “miserable, wretched, degraded and abject as you have made us” in process of supporting your families, some of you will still curse the day you were born. He says that if a black man wants to he can “root some of you out of the very face of the earth” meaning they can easily kill them. He goes on to say that some whites are in denial of such a thing, because they think they have made the slaves so miserable that a thing like that is impossible.

    This paragraph was one of the most powerful one to me, because it reflects the despair of the Africans American slaves and cruelty of the whites who caused the despair. Walker says he doesn’t count his life dear to him because there is no point of it. This paragraph is different from the others because in this Walker holds a little threat to the whites saying that a man of color can root a white out of face of the earth. This is a definitely a good strategy and i think it did work to scare the white slave holders.

  8. In the first paragraph of David Walker Appeal, one of his first tactics was to explain as a African American how he feel and how he is looked at by other people. In a way you can consider the first paragraph almost a plea or request asking that what he had experienced being an African American was a tragedy and he didnt want anyone else to experience that. Some examples of his tactics was when he began to name previous events that were similar situations of slavery he went through and how it was a cycle of slavery under Christianity.

    I believe his arguement is very persuasive because it can be an eye opener to his audience, showing them that its just repeating the past which never had any long term benefits.

  9. …I must observe to my brethren that at the close of the first Revolution in this country, with Great Britain, there were but thirteen States in the Union, now there are twenty-four, most of which are slave-holding States, and the whites are dragging us around in chains and in handcuffs, to their new States and Territories to work their mines and farms, to enrich them and their children-and millions of them believing firmly that we being a little darker than they, were made by our Creator to be an inheritance to them and their children for ever-the same as a parcel of brutes.

    Are we MEN! ! — I ask you, 0 my brethren I are we MEN? Did our Creator make us to be slaves to dust and ashes like ourselves? Are they not dying worms as well as we? Have they not to make their appearance before the tribunal of Heaven, to answer for the deeds done in the body, as well as we? Have we any other Master but Jesus Christ alone? Is he not their Master as well as ours? — What right then, have we to obey and call any other Master, but Himself? How we could be so submissive to a gang of men, whom we cannot tell whether they are as good as ourselves or not, I never could conceive. However, this is shut up with the Lord, and we cannot precisely tell — but I declare, we judge men by their works.

    The whites have always been an unjust, jealous, unmerciful, avaricious and blood-thirsty set of beings, always seeking after power and authority.

    _______________________________________________________

    In the above paragraphs Walker’s appeal is to his fellow African-Americans. He is trying to understand how they can allow the white man to take them over. How they can make the white seem as if he is any better than than them. How they call and answer to the white people as master when as a people they only have one master; which is Jesus Christ himself. How can another man be an inheritance to another man just because of the color of his skin. To Walker it is unfathomable for them to believe in these notions. He speaks of the issues that both races being equal have to face.

    Walker’s appeal is about the rebellion of the slaves to their ‘masters’. In the above passage he uses Jesus Christ as his principle strategy. Most slaves at the time believed in Christianity at the time although it may have been mixed with other religions. He was trying to make the slaves themselves see the comparison of how much the white man and black man has in common when the end of time comes. He wanted them to see that it was all about power and that the white man was selfish, in wanting to have it all and doing anything to get it. Walker wanted his appeal to anger the slaves into taking their lives back into their own hands. Walker’s appeal makes valid points. No man should inferior to another especially when one is caged and the other made to walk free, as Walker said.

  10. The last paragraph of David Walker’s Appeal. This paragraph is succinct and powerful. After refuting many points, held by the common whites, by using logic, Walker summarizes the appeal by shifting the listeners’ attention to the most respected document in American, the Constitution. Doing so validates all refuted points because it is a clear opposition of the basic principle of the Constitution, that “ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL” and with rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

    Strategies used in the appeal are assertion and persuasion. All paragraphs, in the excerpt of David Walker’s Appeal, balks confidence as faults in common ethics are contested, paragraph after paragraph. Although, there are some strong language, for the most part, it seems to be written in a careful way, as not to seen as a radical.

  11. Looking at the second paragraph is David Walker’s Appeal, he comes off as almost being sarcastic in comparing black slaves with the Israeli slaves in Egypt. Mixed in with the sarcasm though, he compares the similar “deplorable conditions of slaves under their feet” and the mistreatment and how even though these are different countries and different nationalities being used as slaves and slave owners, nothing seems to change as far as mistreatment and the the practice of slavery.
    David Walker also continues to refer to the whites and their ways with brutal slavery even dating back to ancient Greece as he later discusses in his appeal. He makes it very evident that he believes even the smart men, like Thomas Jefferson which he refers to throughout his appeal, fall victim to being cruel to slaves because it’s in their “nature” being white. He uses history in his appeal to try and convey this point to his readers.

  12. Walker touch many important point, specially in the last paragraph were he tells many important critics about the white society using common sense. In the last paragraph Walker also used the constitution to clarify the right of the slave as human beings that should have the same right as whites because the constitution says that all man are created equal.

  13. “Are we MEN!! I ask you, O my brethren I are we MEN? Did our creator make us to be slaves to the dust and ashes like ourselves? Are we not dying worms as well as we? Have they not to make their appearance before the tribunal of Heaven, to answer for the deeds done in the body, as well as we? Have we any other Master but Jesus Christ alone? Is he not their Master as well as ours?–What right then, have we to obey and call any other Master but Himself? How we could be so submissive to a gang of men, whom we cannot tell whether they are as good as ourselves or not, I never could conceive. However, this is shut up with the Lord and we cannot precisely tell– but I declare, we judge men by their works.”

    I choose this paragraph because I think that the words are very powerful. I agree with David Walker a hundred percent. Although our skin color may be different we are all the same. God created us all so we should not be treated any different. The fact that he used the example that we all have to come before god and confess our sins made his argument that much stronger. If I were a slave master after reading this I would definitely stop and think to myself, what would Jesus think about all my wrong doing and they things I have done to someone he created? and how he would make me pay for these sins?. Another thing that stood out to me was the end where Walker says, “How we could be so submissive to a gang of men, whom we cannot tell whether they are as good as ourselves or not.” Black people did not know how much potential they have back then. If black people had the same opportunities as white people in those times they would definitely be a force to be recogned with.

  14. In the first paragraph David Walker brings up the very profound idea of slavery and religion and also the incredible degredation of African-Americans. He even goes to say that he thinks that they are the most degraded things in the world. He is spot on with his analysis. Because it seems not only counter-productive but also counter-intuitive to perpetuate the system of slavery and proclaim yourself and your government christian.

  15. See your Declaration Americans! ! ! Do you understand your won language? Hear your languages, proclaimed to the world, July 4th, 1776 — “We hold these truths to be self evident — that ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL! ! that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness! !” Compare your own language above, extracted from your Declaration of Independence, with your cruelties and murders inflicted by your cruel and unmerciful fathers and yourselves on our fathers and on us — men who have never given your fathers or you the least provocation! ! ! ! ! !

    I think there is a slight amount of irony/sarcasm here. He grabs the users attention by exclaiming the point. David is trying to show that most americans are a bit ignorant to the politics taking place, alot of them hop on the band wagon so to speak

  16. “…If any of us see fit to go away… The Americans say, that we are ungrateful-but I ask them for heaven’s sake, what should we be grateful to them for…”

    In this particular paragraph, i think David is speaking the truths the slaves hid for fear of being beaten or sold. I think I heard of people who said Slavery was something the African Americans should have been grateful for. And in all honest as i read the paragraph i could do nothing but shake my head and agree. Why would slaves be grateful to their masters for being beaten, nearly starved, raped and so on. I think here his blunt way of spilling the unspoken thoughts of the slaves was a way to inform people of how poorly they tried to make slavery not seem so bad. (i know that was terrible sentence structure).

    Not to mention “…They certainly think that we are a gang of fools…” there was this part. It reminded me of Frederick Douglass’s Narrative. There was a section where Mr. Auld was informing Sophia not to educate Frederick because education could spoil the best N-word. In my opinion even without any formal education anyone could tell you they were not grateful for living in constant misery and fear.

  17. Black man is trying to enlighten the face that evil of slavery is spreading continuously. It existed in thirteen states before and later it spread out to 11 additional states. Black man is asking God why he created blacks as slaves who are treated like animals in farms and mines with no mercy from their masters.
    In another paragraph black man trying to appeal to the readers for freedom by using religious teaching of God who created all humans equal and only God is to be called master. He is contrasting lives of blacks with lives of whites. He is questioning the God if he created blacks to be treated unfairly. He means to convince the audience to learn that God made everyone equally and only himself is Master of every human being. So the man has no right to be master to another race based on their color.

  18. In this paragraph “What nation under heaven, will be able to do any thing with us, unless God gives us up into its hand? But Americans. I declare to you, while you keep us and our children in bondage, and treat us like brutes, to make us support you and your families, we cannot be your friends. You do not look for it do you? Treat us then like men, and we will be your friends. And there is not a doubt in my mind, but that the whole of the past will be sunk into oblivion, and we yet, under God, will become a united and happy people. The whites may say it is impossible, but remember that nothing is impossible with God.”
    I like how in this paragraph, even though the whites treated him and his people bad he tells them that they can still be friends with them if they treated them like human beings. and all will be forgiven and the past shall be forgotten. Because of god he believes that he shouldn’t be enemies with the whites but to fine a way to make things work together and be together.And what he is trying to say can be related to Martin Luther King.

  19. In David Walker’s appeal in the line “I must observe….” He discusses how much the colonies have grown since the Revolutionary War, basically saying that blacks were American because they have been in America since the foundation of the country, he stated that most of the sates was now slave holding states. He describes slavery and how African Americans work to enrich the whites and their children, all this because African Americans have a darker complexion.
    Strategies used in the appeal are persuasion and appealing to the readers emotions in order to gain the readers empathy. The language is used in a cautious and careful manor. Using these emotions and language I think his argument is incredibly persuasive.


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