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In Alfred M. Green’s speech concerning the African Americans waiting to enlist in the Union Army, Green uses a variety of persuasive techniques such as historical allusions and striking, impassioned vocabulary to convince African Americans across the nation that the future will be bright and to instill hope, so as to increase the strength of the army and increase the morale of the nation.
Green starts out his speech by addressing the current events. The Civil War had just broken out, and while slaves weren’t allowed to fight with the army before his speech, Green believed that – at the time of giving his speech – their time was now. By joining the Union army and fighting the confederate troops, in essence they would be fighting for their rights, as the Confederacy was very against slaves’ rights. They would be able to prove that they too shared “the love of country, of freedom, and of civil and religious toleration.” Green mentions that slaves in general haven’t ever been recognized as citizens by even the founding fathers themselves, but regardless of citizenship, the founding fathers founded the United States of America during the enlightenment period in the 18th century, when intellectuals around the world began to agree in unalienable rights that every man had. Every man was agreed to have been created equally regardless of where he lies in regards to common ideologies; regardless of color, culture, or beliefs. The USA were founded on these very beliefs, and Green is saying that
as Americans, the African American people can’t let previous hardships prevent them from joining the army. They, too should fight against the Confederate army; the Confederacy, by believing in enslaving other people based on skin color, goes against everything that their own country was founded on, and no American, including African Americans should sit idle and watch. They should fight for their rights.
In this section, Green begins using more and more inclusive language and ties African Americans and all other northerners together as Americans. He brings out the patriotism in every African American by not separating them from others, and inspires more and more to enlist in the Union army.
He continues to acknowledge that African Americans have never had as much freedom as everyone else, and that they’ve always held the short end of the stick. They’ve had to suffer through fugitive-slave laws and segregation from first contact with Europeans, but what makes the speaker’s argument especially strong here is the way that he utilizes inclusive language; since he himself is an African American, it gives Green’s words more credibility and makes it easier for the audience to relate and support his argument. In the second half of his speech, Green talks about how even though African Americans may not be in the best position at the time of his speech, it is not the time to “cavil over past grievances.” Rather, he advises to take the opportunity that’s presented itself and use it to prove what African Americans are capable of; to prove that they’re more than just a means to and end but in fact an entire people America has failed to acknowledge. Green encourages people to look to their bright future and with a positive tone, the audience begins to feel optimistic about listening to Green, to joining the Union army and fighting for what’s theirs. He advances his argument by then taking advantage of the positive tone he’s set in the audience and introduces his final point, which is that in general, African Americans shouldn’t be afraid or pessimistic about the future, as “God will defend the right.” As long as they fight with the Union, they’ll be in the right and won’t be able to lose with God’s protection, so Green’s only question to the audience at this point is why not fight? By using Christianity as a point to fight, Green is able to allude to all but a handful of people across the entire nation since the majority of African Americans in the 19th century were Christians. At the same time, Christians believed that all men deserve freedom and equality.

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