Rhetorical Strategies for Political Goals: Freedoms Journal
Freedoms Journal is an Abolitionist text, it is written during the time of Abolition for people who were Abolitionist by Abolitionists. Because of this, it is reflective of the disparities in strategy, ideology and practices among Abolitionists. Upon reading the first editorial, it is apparent that the editors are using very notable strategies with rhetoric to make their particular case of Abolition. This case would be that of immediate Abolition while pushing for racial uplift (111). These styles are an acknowledgement of targeted audience and various changing tones.
Good rhetorical strategy is when a writer can acknowledge that they are writing for two separate audiences. It is even better when this a piece is written that can also communicate two different messages to these two separate audiences. I find this strategy to be taken to a new level with Freedom’s Journal because it appears to be aware that its audience is four-fold. Its first and most apparent audience is free and enslaved Black people in the
Its second audience is going to be Abolitionist white people. The editorial is communicating that there is disparity of understanding between Black and white Abolitionist in the
The third audience will of course be either the undecided white person or the slave holder. It is reasonable to assume that pieces against slavery were read and critiqued by undecided people and proponents of slavery. Therefore, I think that there is a two reasons why religious tone is used in the journal. This is because it would likely appeal to the undecided camp of people and it would also serve as a rhetorical weapon against the Christian slave holder. According to African American studies scholar and Professor DoVeanna Fulton’s lecture on Colonization, Slavery and Abolition states that many people used biblical reasoning and rhetoric to justify the existence of slavery. She writes that Reverends Whitfield and Thomas Bacon “used the following text to justify slavery [such as] Leviticus…1 Corinthians [and books in] Genesis”.  It would make sense that the Freedom’s Journal editorial would read a lot like a sermon to counteract strategies employed by pro-slavery people who were religious. The sermon tone comes out when the editorial reads:
“We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us Too has the publik been deceived by misrepresentations, in things which concern us dearly ” (112)
More examples of religious imagery and tone are present and it is made clear that they are writing for their own and others “moral and religious improvement” (112). They are writing to people “to whom we concede all the principles of humanity and religion” and that the will “shield ourselves against the consequent evils” (112).
I would assert that its fourth audience is for the international constitutes that are struggling against slavery. This is because the struggles that the authors name such as the “recent travels of Denham and Clapperton into the interior of Africa” along with that “establishment of a republic in Hayti” along with “the advancement of liberal ideas in South America” (112). Abolition was not just a struggle in the United States- but was a global movement. These examples that the writers used are meant to make the broader connection with that movement. It would also make sense that this would serve as a rhetorical comparison when talking to people in the United States about slavery. For example, one could merely cite that other nations across the world are moving on from slavery, thus, it is about time that the United States did the same.
The abolition of slavery in the
1) Cornish, Russworm. "Freedoms Journal: First Editorial." The Radical Reader: A Documentary History of the American Radical Tradition. Ed. Timothy Partick McCarthy and John McMillian.
2) Fulton, DoVeanna. "Colonization, Slavery and Abolition."
 Fulton, DoVeanna. "Colonization, Slavery and Abolition."