Alfred M. Green | Teen Ink

Alfred M. Green

March 16, 2021
By serenapei123 PLATINUM, San Jose, California
serenapei123 PLATINUM, San Jose, California
24 articles 5 photos 0 comments

From the beginning of this country to the present, we have struggled with racism and discrimination due to the diversity among us. In 1861, Alfred M. Green delivered a speech in Philadelphia to address the role of his fellow African Americans in the Civil War. He believed that African Americans should prepare to enlist in the army despite the racial discrimination they had experienced from the white men he was calling them to fight for. Green uses unifying diction to create a sympathetic tone, an allusion to Thomas Paine to instill a sense of urgency, and repetition to create hope in order to bring African Americans together into the fight of the Civil War.

Green uses unifying diction to express his understanding of the African Americans’ concerns about joining the Civil War. He addresses them with personal pronouns as he says, “the brave deeds of our fathers,” “our injuries...are great,” and “let us take up the sword.” This emphasizes that Green is part of the African American community and realizes the pain they have suffered together. Since African Americans faced much discrimination and violence, Green knows that they will have doubts about fighting for the unity of the nation that seems to despise them in every way. Therefore, he uses personal pronouns to assure his fellow African Americans that while he realizes their struggles, it is their duty to fight. Additionally, he refers to them as his “brethren” multiple times throughout his speech. Again, Green establishes the fact that they are all one big family united because of their race, so they should unite together for a common goal to fight in the Civil War. Referring to his audience as his own family pulls on their heartstrings and makes it easier for them to hear what he has to say.

Green alludes to a quote from Thomas Paine in order to create an urgent tone. He recognizes the “difficulties of those days that tried men’s souls when he reminisces on the injuring they have faced in the past. By doing so, he establishes a common ground and at the same time also contributes a strong sense of motivation. The fact that he recognizes “those days that tried men’s souls” emotionally touches his African American audience because they are assured that Green knows the reasons for their reservations for fighting in the Civil War. However, by drawing a connection between the colonists’ fight for independence in the American Revolutionary War and their current situation, Green also connects the same sense of patriotism to his audience. This patriotism, as a love for their nation, is exactly the reason for African Americans to join the war effort. By realizing African Americans’ struggles in the past and present and making a connection with the Revolutionary War, Green effectively rallies them up to join the war to save their country.

Green uses repetition to convey hopefulness for a better future for African Americans once they fight in the war. He repeats “let us” several times in the last paragraph to list out the evil motivations of the seceding states in the South. For example, Green asserts that they hope to “drive back the advance guard of civil freedom.” By outlining the horrific goals of the South, Green creates an ardent opposition to the South among the African Americans. He highlights the seceding states as a common and obvious enemy so that the African Americans will find the motivation and purpose to fight in the Civil War. Green lists out the specific goals of the opposition in order to plant inside his fellow American Americans’ minds what exactly they are fighting against, providing a clear incentive for them. He establishes hope by hinting that if they fight and succeed, they will prevent these evil intents of the South from becoming a reality. Green effectively attempts to convince his African American audience to join the Civil War as soldiers by using unifying diction, allusion, and repetition in order to establish common ground, strengthen their morale, and give them a strong purpose to fight for the preservation of their nation. As a result of his speech, more than 200,000 African Americans chose to fight, and today, our country is united largely because of their combined efforts during the Civil War inspired by Alfred M. Green.

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